St. Bonaventure University

St. Bonaventure University
Former names
St. Bonaventure's College
Motto Becoming Extraordinary
Type Private
Established 1858
Affiliation Catholic Church (Franciscan)
Endowment $60 million (2015)
President Dr. Andrew Roth (interim)
Administrative staff
Undergraduates ~1,771
Postgraduates ~500
Location Allegany, New York, United States
Campus Small town/rural, 500 acres (2 km²)
Colors Brown and white         
Athletics NCAA Division IAtlantic 10
Sports 14 varsity teams
(7 men's & 7 women's)
Nickname Bonnies
Mascot The Bona Wolf[1]
Affiliations ACCU

St. Bonaventure University is a private, Franciscan Catholic university in Allegany, Cattaraugus County, New York, United States, within the Diocese of Buffalo. It has roughly 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students. The Franciscan Brothers established the university in 1858. Its president is currently Dr. Andrew Roth, who is serving in an interim position following the retirement of the university's 20th president, Sister Margaret Carney, OSF, STD, the first religious sister to hold the position full-time.

In athletics, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies play NCAA Division I sports in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Students and alumni often refer to the university as Bona's, derived from the school's original name, St. Bonaventure's College.


The college was founded by Utica financier Nicholas Devereux, one of the first to gain land grants in newly surveyed Cattaraugus County from the Holland Land Company. Devereux founded the town of Allegany on the grant, hoping to build a new city. He believed the city would need religious instruction, so Devereux approached John Timon, the bishop of Buffalo, for assistance. The two invited the Franciscan order to Western New York, and a small group under Father Pamfilo da Magliano, OFM, arrived in 1856. This was the first group of Franciscan brothers to settle in the United States. The school graduated its first class in 1858. St. Bonaventure's College was granted university status by New York State in 1950. The largest residence hall on campus, Devereux Hall, is named for the founder.

Once one of the nation's most prominent Catholic colleges, St. Bonaventure ran into financial difficulties in the early 1990s, and nearly declared bankruptcy in 1994. In February 1994, the arrival of the school's nineteenth president Dr. Robert J. Wickenheiser marked a beginning of changes at the university. Under the new President, the school's enrollment numbers increased significantly, and further investments were made throughout the campus. After a few years, St. Bonaventure came out of debt and saw large increases in its enrollment and endowment. Since the late 1990s, the school has been put on a more solid financial footing and has seen record growth and campus improvements in the past five years. Under the university's twentieth president Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, the campus has undergone millions of dollars in renovations and seen tremendous growth in the areas of the School of Business and its Medical Program co-ops with many big name universities, notably the George Washington University and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. The school continues to be a vital part of the Western Southern Tier Region of Western New York.

Thomas Merton, the religious writer, taught English at St. Bonaventure for a year just at the start of World War II. It was at this school that Merton finally gave into his vocation and decided to join the Trappists. He entered the monastery in Kentucky in 1941. A heart-shaped clearing on a mountain in view of campus is linked to Merton in campus myth. Some students call it "Merton's Heart" and claim that Merton visited the place often and that the trees fell when he died. In reality, the hillside had been cleared for oil drilling in the 1920s and trees have since regrown, leaving the bald patch.[2]


The campus sits on 500 acres (2.0 km2) in the town of Allegany, just over the line from the city of Olean (total pop.: 15,000), at Exit 24 of Interstate 86. The university has its own U.S. Post Office and is listed as a separate census-designated place by the Census Bureau. The university's postal address is Saint Bonaventure, NY 14778.

Many campus buildings are designed in red brick with Italianate roofs, to reflect the architecture of St. Francis' native Italy. The campus proper has several residence halls, townhouses/apartments and academic buildings. Its expansive front lawn has been cited as the largest front lawn in America.

Starting in the mid-2000s, the campus has seen several campus improvements, including a new $6 million recreation center, a new Starbucks-product coffee café, and completely renovated dining hall and residence hall. The state-of-the-art William F. Walsh Science Center (2008) and William E. and Ann L. Swan Business Center (2013) are the newest academic facilities.

The university is a large landowner in the Allegany area, as part of the original Devereux grant, and offers much to appreciators of nature. The south edge of campus lies on the Allegheny River. A small portion of the campus is wooded. Across the street from campus, the university owns a cemetery, nine-hole golf course, and restaurant.

About 25 miles (40 km) from the main campus, the university also offers the opportunity to experience the Franciscan eremitical tradition in the Allegheny Mountain foothills in western Clarksville, New York, at a community called Mount Irenaeus. "The Mountain", as it is referred to by students, faculty and alumni, provides a retreat for students. While not owned by the university, Mount Irenaeus has a shared mission with the university and primarily serves its population.

St. Bonaventure also has a second graduate studies center in Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo, on the campus of Hilbert College. Most graduate programs are taught there, set up on a Friday night/Saturday morning schedule. The Hilbert College library, bookstore, cafeteria, athletic facilities and computer lab are available to St. Bonaventure graduate students during the week, including evenings, and on weekends. Hilbert College has a computer lab linked to the St. Bonaventure network.

The Franciscan connection

The university is named after St. Bonaventure (1221–74), born John of Fidenza, who became a cardinal and Doctor of the Church. A theologian and contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Paris, he became head of the Franciscan order and did much to institutionalize that order. His most famous work is Itinerarium mentis in deum, or The Soul's Journey to God. Bonaventure was canonized in 1482 by Sixtus IV.

The Franciscan friars at the St. Bonaventure Friary belong to the Holy Name Province and are members of the Order of Friars Minor, OFM, one of the orders of Franciscans.

The Bonaventure friars are involved in a number of activities in the greater Olean community, besides ministry on campus. They administer St. Bonaventure's Parish in Allegany, called "Little Bona's". There is a strong Franciscan presence at Olean General Hospital, and the university operates the Warming House, an area soup kitchen believed to be the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the United States. Also adjacent to campus is the Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, a group of Franciscan religious sisters.

The university is also home to the Franciscan Institute. Founded in 1939 by Fr. Thomas Plassmann, O.F.M., then president of St. Bonaventure's College, and led by its first Director, Fr. Philotheus Boehner, O.F.M., the Franciscan Institute stands as the preeminent center in North America of teaching, research and publication on the history, spirituality and intellectual life of the Franciscan movement.

The university today

The school is well known in New York state and the mid-Atlantic region for its journalism programs, having produced six Pulitzer Prize–winning writers. The school is also known for its accredited business and education schools.

The university has more than 50 academic programs. These include combined degree health care programs guarantee admission to medical school for more than 30 students annually, preparing students for careers in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy or pharmacy.

St. Bonaventure is accredited by the Middle States Association, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts hosts several art galleries and a 321-seat theater.

St. Bonaventure is home to the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Its campus newspaper, The Bona Venture, has been published continuously since 1926. Known on campus as The BV, the newspaper has earned The Pacemaker Award numerous times from the Associated Collegiate Press, the last time in 1994. The school is also home to The Laurel, the nation's oldest continuously published college literary magazine. The school's student radio station, WSBU 88.3 The Buzz, is ranked No. 4 nationally by The Princeton Review and has been ranked in the top 5—and No. 1 on more than one occasion—for more than a decade.

The school has many student organizations including Mountain Community Leaders, which holds retreats for students at the Franciscan Mountain Retreat Centre at Mount Irenaeus. Other on-campus organizations include BonaResponds—which sent nearly 300 people to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and continues to perform relief work at home and across the county—and SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), which has established successful business and education programs in the Bahamas.

St. Bonaventure is strongly identified with the Western New York region. A notable proportion of the student body are from the Buffalo and Rochester metro areas, and references to Buffalo and Rochester—and their Catholic high schools—are common even among students not from those areas. However, the university has students from 33 states and nearly 20 countries.


St. Bonaventure is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference and offers 14 varsity athletic programs. The school's programs are known as the Bonnies, and colors are brown and white. Men's basketball and, more recently, women's basketball have been the university's most prominent athletic teams. The men reached the NCAA Final Four in 1970, won the NIT in 1977, and won their first Atlantic 10 title in 2012, defeating Xavier to reach their first NCAA Tournament in 12 years. The women climbed as high as 16th in the national polls in 2012, going 31-4 and reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Four St. Bonaventure alumni have been elected to professional halls of fame: Baseball legends Hughie Jennings and John McGraw, for whom the university's athletic fields are named, are in the Baseball Hall of Fame; Bob Lanier, '70, who led St. Bonaventure Brown Indians to the NCAA Final Four, is in the Basketball Hall of Fame; and Jack Butler, '51, who had a stellar career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1950s, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

At St. Bonaventure, several Division I sports, as well as club sports are offered for students' participation.

Division I sports

  • Baseball
  • Basketball, Men's & Women's
  • Cross Country, Men's & Women's
  • Golf
  • Lacrosse, Women's
  • Soccer, Men's & Women's
  • Softball
  • Swimming & Diving, Men's & Women's
  • Tennis, Men's & Women's

Club sports

  • Downhill Skiing
  • Ice Hockey, Men's
  • Field Hockey
  • Lacrosse, Men's & Women's
  • Rugby, Men's & Women's
  • Running, Men's & Women's
  • Volleyball, Men's & Women's

Degree programs and graduate program offerings

Dual admissions program

These programs are available for high school students who are looking for careers in health care. To be admitted to these programs, students must have suitable credentials and are expected to maintain a specific level of academic performance while at SBU.


Graduate programs

  • MSED Counselor Education—Community Mental Health
  • MSED Counselor Education—Rehabilitation
  • MSED Counselor Education—School
  • MSED Adolescent Literacy
  • MSED Childhood Literacy
  • MSED Adolescence Education
  • MSED Advanced Inclusive Processes
  • MSED Educational Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Masters of Business Administration
  • Masters of Strategic Leadership (online only)
  • Master of Arts in English

Notable alumni

Well-known graduates

There are many notable alumni of St. Bonaventure University.

Pulitzer Prize winning alumni

The school boasts six Pulitzer Prize winners as alumni.

Alumni who have served as Congress Members

Five Members of the United States Congress attended St. Bonaventure.


  1. The Symbols of St. Bonaventure University — The Bona Wolf
  2. Merton's heart, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY, Undated, Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  4. Walsh, James T., Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Washington, DC, Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  5. Jim Walsh remembered: Herald American profile from 1988, The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Media Group, Repost 21 January 2008 by Carlic, S., Original 30 October 1988 by Kane, D., & Bramstedt, C., Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  6. Biographical profile for James T. Walsh, Vote NY, Reston, VA: Vote USA, Undated, Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  7. Walsh, William Francis, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Washington, DC: US Congress, Undated, Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  8. William F. Walsh, former Syracuse mayor and congressman, dies at 98, The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Media Group, 8 January 2011, Weiner, M., Retrieved 21 January 2014.
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Coordinates: 42°04′41″N 78°28′53″W / 42.078094°N 78.481307°W / 42.078094; -78.481307

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