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English Language and Literature | Higher Education


Sr. Emmanuel Renner, OSB


Underlying student development at St. John's over its first century (1857- 1955), the University's mission was to help its students become educated, principled, and virtuous men whose experiences at St. John's would be an integral part of their adult lives. Within that century, however, there was a shift in St. John's approach to student development. From 1857 to 1920, the University concentrated more on the students' external discipline. Students were to pattern their livelihood on a series of rules and regulations. They also were under constant supervision, while at class, at church, in study hall, on their dorm floor, or at play outside. Mail was regularly monitored for morally questionable material, and students were not often given permission to leave campus. After 1921, St. John's shifted its emphasis from expecting external discipline to encouraging the students to internalize proper behavior for its own sake. Some of the more strict parental rules were also lessened: the work day was shortened, giving students more leisure time while the University moved away from using such measures that exacted a specific type of obedience.