In Veritatis Amore
A Concise History of Bellarmine University in Louisville
Edited by Clyde F. Crews
Bellarmine University Press
“While Bellarmine is young, it has had a long history.” In his 1990 inaugural address, Bellarmine University’s third president Dr. Joseph “Jay” McGowan pointed to a key paradox at the heart of this venerable academic Louisville institution. Although opened at mid-century in 1950, Bellarmine rose with roots much deeper into the past. No one was more conscious of this truth than the leaders of the Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville who called it into existence, and its founding president, the youthful Fr. Alfred F. Horrigan.
Two predecessor institutions in Kentucky, St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s Colleges took their rise in the 1820s; both were deeply impacted by the Civil War; and both produced an impressive list of graduates from throughout the South, many of whom were destined for high civic positions. The very land on which Bellarmine would be built had itself already been home to seven institutions: a plantation, a Civil War hospital, a bishop’s home, two seminaries and two orphanages. Additionally, a special educational partner, Louisville’s Ursuline College, tracing its own roots to the 1920s, has its own vivid and worthy history to report. Ursuline and Bellarmine would merge in 1968, becoming co-educational, with a Board of Trustees that added a significant number of lay and interfaith members.
This volume, In Veritatis Amore—In the Love of Truth, invoking the institution’s founding motto—sets out to give a concise rendering of key elements of this storied past as well as major developments and personalities in Bellarmine’s nearly seventy years of academic and community life. It seeks to evoke the values and ethos that make Bellarmine, to so many of its 23,000 alums, a singular home. Here is the saga of an infant college with a single structure that barely survived its first year, through its new status of university in 2000. Moving into the 21st century, Bellarmine emerged into a regional scholastic center with international range and nearly 4,000 students. All that story is reported here, along with a chapter on Bellarmine sports, and with a wealth of photographic detail.