After years of educating their members within the walls of the motherhouse on Convent Avenue in Rutland, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rutland purchased the campus of Rutland Junior College to establish a training center for their young novices and continue their education in the sisters’ normal school. In 1956, a core group of courageous women lead by Sister Mary Matthew McDevitt, the College’s first president, formed St. Joseph’s Teacher’s College. To foster the growth of the fledging College, she formed an affiliation with Catholic University of America.
In 1960, the College was approved by the State of Vermont to confer the Bachelor of Science in education and the name of the College was changed to College of St. Joseph the Provider. That year the first graduation was held, and three sisters received their Bachelor of Science degrees in education.
For years, the College served only members of the congregation. In 1962, because of a teacher shortage, the congregation decided to admit lay women interested in Elementary Education. Nine brave lay women enrolled in the fall of 1962. A double trailer was purchased in 1964 and placed near the school building as a residence hall for 8 freshmen. In May of 1965, the first lay students, Michelle Anne Ford and Marita Lillian Peters, graduated from the College.
In the fall of 1965, Sister Mary Imelda Welch became the second president of the College. The rapid growth of the College resulted in a critical need for both dormitory and classroom space. In 1967 the first dormitory, Roncalli Hall, was completed. The following year, St. Joseph Hall was completed with 8 classrooms, 2 science laboratories, a language laboratory and an auditorium/gymnasium. Continued growth resulted in the need for a second dormitory, and in 1969 Medaille Hall was completed. In the late sixties, the College attained candidacy in the New England Association of Schools and College, Inc., New England’s regional accrediting body.
Under Sr. Imelda’s administration, the College became co-ed in the fall of 1971 and enrolled six male students. She also introduced men’s basketball to student services in 1972 and moved the educational programs forward to include programs in special education, early childhood education, library science and the master’s degree in education. In 1972, CSJP became a full member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
On June 1, 1974, Sr. Mary Polworth, a Burlington, Vermont native and former executive vice-president of CSJP, became the third president. Her focus was on promoting the college within the community to increase its visibility. Under her administration, academic programs in business administration, human services, and liberal studies were added to the CSJP curriculum. In addition, the women’s basketball team, called the Saintinettes made its official debut in November of 1974. By fall of 1976, about half of the faculty were Sisters of St. Joseph, half were lay faculty, and there were two priests on the staff.
In 1983, the board of trustees appointed the first lay president in the history of the College, Frank Miglorie. Miglorie served as a full-time faculty member at the College for nine years and as its Academic Dean for four years under Sr. Mary Polworth. Under Miglorie’s leadership, the curriculum expanded to 32 majors, with special emphasis on programs for adult learners and graduate students. Miglorie retired in 2012 after 28 years as president.
In 2008, the College formed an alliance with Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and the Vermont Department for Children and Families to offer a unique program to assist foster youth in the transition to college. The CSJ STEPS program (Students Taking an Effective Path to Success) provides year-round housing and support services for foster youth wanting to complete their college education at CSJ. This program is unique in New England and one of a very few in the U.S. that seeks to make a higher education possible for former foster children.