Viterbo University Information

Mission| Vision/Goal| Statement of Educational Philosophy| Statement of Purpose| Institutional Goals| Strategic Priorities| History| Reputation| Campus Facilities

Pending Board of Directors approval October 2007.


Viterbo, a Catholic, Franciscan, ecumenical University prepares students for leadership and service by providing a student-centered, values-based, learning-focused liberal arts education rooted in the values of human dignity and respect for the world. 


The University and its graduates will lead and serve with faith, wisdom and courage in contributing to the common good.

Core Values

In keeping with the tradition of our Franciscan founders, we hold the following core values:

  • Contemplation: as we reflect upon the presence of God in our lives and work
  • Hospitality: as we welcome everyone we encounter as an honored guest
  • Integrity: as we strive for honesty in everything we say and do
  • Stewardship: as we practice prudent and responsible use of all resources in our trust
  • Service: as we work for the common good in the spirit of humility and joy.

Institutional Priorities
The strategic plan focuses on four institutional priorities

  • Academic distinction
  • Catholic and Franciscan identity
  • Access, affordability and success
  • Enrollment growth

Statement of Educational Philosophy (Prior to 1993)

The educational philosophy of Viterbo University is expressed in the following beliefs about higher education, our college community, our students, and our programs. 

We believe:

  • that higher education facilitates the integration of knowledge and values with the whole of life and
  • that this integration should result in a perspective embracing realism, idealism, and faith.
  • that higher education fosters the development of self-knowledge, personal competence and values, wholesome relationships, community involvement, and global awareness.
  • that higher education is a dynamic and life long process through which students of all ages achieve self-actualization.

We believe:

  • that Viterbo University makes a unique contribution to individual students, the La Crosse area, and the larger society of which it is a part, as a small, independent, coeducational Catholic liberal arts university.
  • that the Franciscan education offered by our university flourishes in an aesthetic environment and in a believing, caring and supporting community committed to Christian values.
  • that our university gives institutional presence to the Catholic church while it serves students of diverse religious beliefs.

We believe:

  • that our students have a God-given dignity and worth, are uniquely endowed with gifts of intellect, imagination, and sensitivity, and are called to develop their potential to the fullest.
  • that heterogeneity in our student body, with respect to race, ethnicity, age, religion, and socio-cultural background, enriches our teaching and learning environment.

We believe:

  • that our liberal arts program frees one in the quest for truth, leads one to develop creativity, and challenges one to growth in pursuit of the good and appreciation of the beautiful.
  • that our educational programs prepare our students for careers of service through professional competency in a variety of disciplines and for leadership roles in social and religious organizations.

Statement of Purpose (Revised and approved April 20, 1998)

The university’s primary purposes are:

  1. To offer baccalaureate liberal arts degree programs along with career and professional opportunities on both a full and part-time basis.
  2. To offer opportunities for life-long learning through degree completion programs, specialized professional degree programs, continuing education as well as selected master degree programs.
  3. To develop a total program of studies, adapted to the needs and interests of the students, which will stimulate the fullest possible growth of the intellectual and creative powers of each student.
  4. To create an educational environment which will stimulate free inquiry, a search for truth, aesthetic appreciation, intellectual integrity and leadership potential.
  5. To foster the integration of knowledge with religious and ethical values.
  6. To deepen in the students an appreciation of one’s own cultural heritage and traditions, as well as those of others.
  7. To facilitate the formation of a Christian community which offers opportunities for religious dialogue, experience and worship, and which manifests mutual care, honesty, respect and love.
  8. To maintain a Christian orientation and a fidelity to the continuance of the traditions of the Catholic Church and the spirit of Franciscanism.
  9. To provide a milieu which fosters growth in self-actualization, emotional maturity, religious convictions, and a dedication to the ideals of service.
  10. To facilitate integration of the living and learning aspects of students development.

Institutional Goals (June 1996)

  1. To uphold, represent, and share the faith needed to bring learning, morality, and values into effective relationships.
  2. To build community through self-acceptance, intellectual development, creative expression, personal relationships, and religious integration.
  3. To affirm Viterbo University as a Catholic, Christian, independent, small, liberal arts, coeducational university which is of unique value and service to its students and the La Crosse community and is worthy of support from public and private sources.
  4. To promote academic excellence and an intellectual climate through competent instruction, enriching campus activities, and a healthy learning environment.
  5. To improve and develop academic programs which meet the needs of both traditional and nontraditional students and are in harmony with the institution's mission.
  6. To integrate program planning and facilities planning with budget planning so that departmental objectives contribute directly to the attainment of institutional goals.

History (Updated Summer 2007)

Viterbo University was founded in 1890 in La Crosse, Wisconsin, by the Franciscan

Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA).  The university is named Viterbo, after its namesake city located in Italy which is home to 13th century Franciscan, Saint Rose of Viterbo, the patron of the FSPA.

Over the years the university has evolved from a normal training school for the FSPA, to a fully developed liberal arts university offering programs at the undergraduate as ell as graduate level.       

The transformation was gradual. College level courses were first introduced in 1923 and eventually steps were taken toward the development of a regular four-year college program. By 1931-1932, St. Rose Junior College had been formally established and approved by the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Further development followed, and by 1939, the college was approved as a four-year, degree-granting institution for the preparation of teachers for elementary schools.

In 1937, as plans were being made at St. Rose for the construction of a free standing college building, located across the street from the convent, the name was changed from St. Rose College to Viterbo College. (One final name change was to occur in 2001 when Viterbo changed its status from college to university.)  Laywomen were admitted in 1943; in 1970 men were admitted.

In the 1950s, Viterbo expanded its program in the liberal arts and in the preparation of teachers for secondary schools. In 1952, this program received the approval of the University of Wisconsin Committee on College Accreditation.

With its status as a four-year liberal arts college achieved, Viterbo sought accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Both were attained in 1954.  Accreditation by both associations has regularly been re-confirmed.

In 1987, Viterbo introduced its first graduate degree, a Master of Arts in Education  graduating its first 41 students in 1990. Today, that same program graduates nearly 500 students, constituting one of the largest programs of its kind in the U.S. A principalship licensure program was added to the Master of Arts in Education program during the 2002-03 school year. A Master of Science in Nursing program was introduced at Viterbo in 1998; in 2001, the first 16 students received a Master of Science in Nursing degree.  In 2001 a Master of Art in Servant Leadership program was approved for Viterbo University; 26 students enrolled in the program. A Master of Business Administration program was introduced at Viterbo University in 2003.

Meanwhile, Viterbo continued to broaden its influence in other ways by creating unique programs and expanding its campus to accommodate enrollments which grew rapidly throughout the 90s and well into the new millennium.

The D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership was established in 1999 for the purpose of promoting leadership and ethics in courses, conferences, workshops, and public forums.

In 2003, the D.B. and Marge Reinhart Center for Ethics, Science and Technology opened complete with new laboratories and state of the art equipment for study in chemistry, biology and the natural sciences. It also houses the president’s office and the ethics center.

The Amie L. Mathy Center for Recreation and Education opened in 2005.  The Center is the first joint project between a Boys and Girls Club and a university in the United States.  Over 58,000 square feet contain three regulation-size gyms, training room, computer lab, art room, jogging track, cardiovascular fitness room, conference space and more.

Throughout it all, Viterbo University has balanced continuity and change with consistent ability. As the university met the challenges, seized the opportunities of the latter 19th century through the 20th century, so it will continue in the 21st century. The heritage of the sisters, combined with the dedication of its current stewards, assures Viterbo a viable future in meeting the intellectual, spiritual, and developmental needs of its students.

And while new facilities were being added to the expanding campus, the existing infrastructure was in the process of constant renewal. Most recently, Viterbo completed a major renovation of its dining facility, the bookstore, library, and fine arts center recital hall.

Mindful of its mission and cognizant of the need to be adaptive in an ever-changing higher education environment, Viterbo, a Catholic, Franciscan, independent university, continues to provide a unique, values-based education for students who will graduate and go on to serve and lead for generations to come.

Reputation (Updated Summer 2005)

Viterbo University has a history of continuity and change; that history rightfully should continue into the new century so that this Catholic, Franciscan, independent, ecumenical university can meet the educational and developmental needs of students who are in search of a meaningful education — an education for life, for life’s work, for leadership, and for service.

Viterbo will have a regional reputation for having developed distinctive educational curricula emphasizing moral, ethical, and global issues; the concept of “across-the-curriculum” will be implemented for writing, ethics, liberal arts, and technology.  The university also will be known for having a dynamic curricula of career majors that attract and retain students.  A distinguishing characteristic of Viterbo will be its continuing ability to review and revise its academic programs so as to maintain its mission and liberal arts tradition while being responsive to the ever-changing educational expectations of students and the ever-evolving needs of society.

As Viterbo continues the commitment, dedication, and charism of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, its sponsor, the university will be able to meet the challenges that lie ahead.  If the university community has the will and the courage to fulfill its mission by transforming itself, then:

Viterbo University aspires to be premier institution among independent universities in the upper Midwest that is person-centered, values-based, residential, and learning-focused; the university will continue to be committed to the liberal arts and to a viable stewardship of resources.

The University of Opportunity (Vision 2015) envisions Viterbo as a premier university that is innovative, creative and flexible as well as progressive, collaborative and ever-evolving with its foundation deeply embedded in Franciscan values.

Campus Facilities (Updated Summer 2007)

Viterbo University Campus (1890), located at 900 Viterbo Drive, La Crosse, WI, consists of 16 acres roughly between Jackson Street and Market Street, and between tenth street and eighth street where the main campus buildings and residence halls are located.  There are an additional 56 acres about five miles east on Highway 16 where Viterbo’s Athletic Complex is situated.

The W. Leo Murphy Center (1941), the main building, provides classrooms and laboratories, offices for the administration and faculty, and services for students. It also houses the Library, the Learning Center and Computer Laboratories. 

      The Fine Arts Center (1971, renovated in 1998) provides outstanding facilities for the creative activity of art, music, and theatre arts departments. The academic wing contains classrooms, studios, practice rooms, laboratories, and faculty offices as well as a fine arts library, a music recital hall, a dance studio, a digital media studio, a choral and orchestra rehearsal room, an art gallery for students, and outside visitors, and professional artist exhibits. The theatre wing contains the Black Box, an experimental studio theatre, and the Main Theatre, a performing theatre unique to the Midwest which can accommodate drama, concert, and opera by adjustment of size and sound.  The Zoeller Music Resource Center, located on the fourth floor of the Fine Arts Center, consists of a collection of records, tapes, music scores, A-V materials, reference and general books, and periodicals. 

The John Brophy Nursing Center (Opened in 1970) houses laboratories, lecture halls, demonstration and seminar rooms, and faculty offices. 

The San Damiano Chapel (1979), located on the corner of 10th and Winnebago, is the center of worship at Viterbo.  Francis courtyard is adjacent to the Chapel with the famous Dancing Francis bronze statue. 

The Student Development Center (1996) was formerly the chaplain’s quarters, then housed the offices of Campus Ministry and Global Education.  During the 1994 school year it also accommodated students while additional residence halls were being completed.  The Center now is home to the Vice President of Student Affairs, the school nurse, school counselor and the alcohol and drug coordinator.

     The Todd Wehr Memorial Library (1991, 2006) Located on the first and second floors of Murphy Center, provides a welcoming environment for research and active learning activities.  Forty-four computer stations are available throughout the library for use by students, faculty and administrators.  The library’s collection of almost 100,000 titles consists of art works, video recordings, sound recordings, archival materials, scores, reference works, electronic books, paperback and hardbound books.  The library subscribes to 466 periodicals and newspapers, and has access to over 11,000 books and 14,500 periodicals through electronic resources.  To supplement the resources available, the library participates in cooperative resource sharing through local, regional and national interlibrary loan systems.  Extensive renovation and expansion of the library began in the summer of 2006.  Plans include a 24/7 café with computer access, and additional study spaces.

The Academic Computing Labs/Classrooms (May 2006) serve the campus: 1) as a resource for the integration of technology into the curriculum, 2) as a tool for academic research, and 3) in the application of technology for the completion of class projects. More 290 IBM-compatible and Macintosh computers are available for use by students and faculty throughout five main labs in Murphy Center, the Fine Arts Center and the Nursing Center, as well as numerous computers located in the Todd Wehr Memorial Library. All resident hall rooms are wired for computer access, as well as several outdoor sites.  The entire campus is being converted to a wireless system.  All student accessible computers are connected to the internal campus network and provide high-speed access to the external resources of the Internet. The campus is standardized on the Microsoft Office Professional Suite to facilitate the sharing of electronic documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases with professors and with other students. Additional discipline specific software is available based on the requirements of the various academic departments. All students are issued web-based electronic mail accounts for the duration of their enrollment at the university. These accounts are accessible from all networked computers on campus and from any computer in the world that has web-based access to the Internet.  All classrooms are equipped with updated podiums to enhance classroom presentations.

The Marian Hall (1957) offers residence, recreational, and dining facilities (1966) for students. Three apartment complexes: McDonald Terrace (1975), Treacy House (1975), and Rose Terrace (1997), offer apartment style living for students.  There are also several theme houses located on campus for students.

The Varsity Athletics’ Center (1987) is a multi-use facility which houses basketball and volleyball courts, training and fitness rooms for varsity athletes. The R.W. Beggs, Sr. Gymnasium is used for “V-Hawk” practices and regular games.

The Student Union (1989), part of  Marian and Bonaventure complex, provides a place for socializing and studying. It contains a games area, large screen TV and lounge and eating areas. The Crossroads Snack Bar and the University Bookstore are located in the Student Union.  Mug Shots coffee shop is located in the Student Union.  During the 2005-2006 school year extensive work was done remodeling parts of the union, especially the bookstore, recreational and dining areas.

The Outdoor Athletic Complex (1999) is home to Viterbo University’s men's and women's soccer, men's baseball, and women's fast-pitch softball. The outdoor athletic complex comprises over 50 acres and includes one of the finest baseball fields in the Midwest, outstanding soccer and softball fields, and a large practice area.  It is conveniently located on U.S. Highway 16, just 3.5 miles south of Interstate 90.

The Viterbo Physical Plant ( 2003) facility serves as the headquarters for all the maintenance and physical plant needs. Working as partners with the Viterbo community they provide flexible, comprehensive, custodial facilities, maintenance, and security systems.

The D.B. and Marge Reinhart Center for Ethics, Science, & Technology (2003) houses the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership as well as offices for the university’s president, communication, and admissions, 24 state of the art science labs, computer labs and classrooms, large multi-purpose board room and modern equipped distance education facilities.

The Amie L. Mathy Center for Recreation and Education (2005).  The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse and Viterbo University joined together in a $7.5 million project to promote the physical, recreational, and educational development of students of all ages.  This is the first partnership of its kind in the United States.  The center contains three regulation-size gymnasiums, training rooms, an art room, computer lab, kitchen facilities, a game room, a walking/jogging track and a multipurpose room.


Amie Mathy Center (AMC)

811 8th Street South

Brophy Nursing Center (BNC)

816 10th Street South

Fine Arts Center (FAC)

929 Jackson Street

Murphy Center (MRC)

815 Viterbo Court

Outdoor Sports Complex (OSC)

N3175 State Road 16

Physical Plant (PLT)

727 Winnebago Street

Reinhart Center (RCE)

900 Viterbo Drive

San Damiano Chapel (CHP)

940 Franciscan Way

Varsity Athletic Center (VAC)

814 Viterbo Court

Student Development Center (SDC)

936 Franciscan Way

Student Union Building (SUB)

702 Franciscan Way



Bonaventure Hall (BONH)

700 Franciscan Way

Marian Hall South (MAHS)

704 Franciscan Way

McDonald Terrace (MCDT)

715 8th Street South

Rose Terrace (ROSE)

801 V-Hawk Court

Treacy House (TREH)

825 Market Street

712 House (H712)

712 8th Street South

810 House (H810)

810 Viterbo Drive

812 House (H812)

812 Viterbo Drive

903 House (H903)

903 8th Street South

909 House (H909)

909 8th Street South