A Holistic Approach to Education — the Mind, Body, Spirit

The connection between mind, body, and spirit is something especially important to human development and flourishing. At Saint Mary’s, we have seen countless examples of how an emphasis on educating the whole person benefits not only individuals but the community.

Beyond the knowledge gained in the classroom, Saint Mary’s women find opportunities on campus and beyond for social, physical, and spiritual growth, which are equally important to realizing their full potential.

Care of the Mind

“The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart,” is a guiding principle and commonly quoted phrase in the Saint Mary’s community. Here, faculty and staff care about the whole student. They know that what is happening in the classroom is just part of a student’s experience and life on campus. For that reason, Saint Mary’s has always valued balancing the curriculum. In the early 1900s, philosophy, religious instruction, and Latin were all extremely valuable for a holistic education; it was equally valuable to possess skills that could be applied in the work-a-day world, such as typing. The current Sophia Program provides the liberal arts foundation for a Saint Mary’s education today, but the principle lives on.

Care of the Body

physical culture class at Saint Mary's Saint Angela Hall was dedicated in May 1892 and served as the first campus gymnasium. Students participated in “physical culture” courses that included “such sports as fencing, basketball, calisthenics, athletic dancing, and dumbells,” according to a College history written by Amanda Divine ’96 and Colin Pier-Silver ’96. Always with a holistic lens, the benefits of the physical culture courses were seen then as preventative to the students “being completely worn out at the close of the year from the pressures of studying and the confinement of the winter months.”

Providing a space to care for the body is critical. The original Saint Angela Hall was razed in 1975 and rebuilt as Angela Athletic Facility on the north side of campus. Renovated and expanded to 103,000 square feet, the new Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex opened in January 2018 to include the Mary Lee Sheftic Health and Counseling Center. 

Care of the Spirit

Support is key to student success and at Saint Mary’s, our holistic approach provides an environment for students to thrive. Interim President Nekvasil has emphasized academic and personal success for students by increasing funding for student-faculty research; providing support by establishing an Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; looking critically at which academic programs are beneficial for today’s students; providing emergency support for students in need; and establishing a program for first-generation students. These strategic priorities will benefit generations of students to come.

In 2017, alumna Kristine Anderson Trustey ’86 gift established the Kristine Anderson Trustey Wellness Program, which is housed in the Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex. The program is designed for the student body and will help our students develop a lifelong appreciation of one's mind, body, and spiritual, emotional, and financial well-being through fitness offerings and developing healthy habits.

Ultimately, it is the legacy of Father Moreau’s belief that lives on in the Saint Mary’s community to care for the mind, body, and spirit.