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Historical Background

Growth of Allentown College

At the request of Bishop Joseph McShea, the founding bishop of the diocese of Allentown, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales agreed to assume the responsibility for establishing a Catholic liberal arts college to serve the higher educational needs in the new diocese. The charter for Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, with full power to award the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, was granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on May 27, 1964. Formal accreditation of the academic program was first granted by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools during the 1969-70 academic year, and the College has since been re-accredited for the period, 1999-2009.

Since its humble beginnings, the College has expanded its operation in significant ways. A continuing education program (ACCESS) was added in 1977; this program was extended to a separate campus in Easton (PA) in 1988. Five Master's level programs have been introduced from 1984 to 1997; one of these, the MBA program, is also offered on the campus of Gwynedd-Mercy College (PA) and via distance learning in Harrisburg (PA).

Among the nine buildings constructed on the 300+ acre campus are the Trexler Library (designed to accommodate some 160,000 volumes), the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts (with a 450-seat main stage and arena theatres), the Iacocca Studios (for television and film), and Campbell Hall (with a state-of-the-art distance learning center). In the Spring of 1999 ground will be broken for the construction of a new Science facility.

Establishing the Salesian Center for Faith and Culture represents another significant step in the development of the institution. This new venture intends to be the means by which to draw together the growing number of academic programs in keeping with our mission as an institution of Catholic higher education.

Mission & Accomplishment

Throughout its history, DeSales University, then Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, has maintained as its purpose to share the benefits of higher learning with qualified students in order that they may enjoy and contribute to the achievements of civilization. Specifically, the mission of DeSales University is "to provide men and women with a liberal education in the Catholic and the Salesian traditions, emphasizing academic excellence, individual attention, a community experience, mutual concern, and preparation for careers." 

In keeping with its mission and philosophy, the university sets forth among its objectives the integration of faith and culture in a manner appropriate to the differing levels of education. Among the objectives for the undergraduate programs, the first is to enable students "to reflect upon the meaning and value of the Catholic faith, to live in a manner consistent with Catholic teaching and tradition, and, in the light of that faith and teaching, to evaluate human action and decision, to make moral choices, and to accept responsibility." In the graduate programs, a prime objective is to enable students "to enhance the formation of a Christian conscience as it applies to the ethical problems of their fields of interest." 

To these ends, DeSales University has achieved a relatively high measure of success in its brief but storied history. Its faculty have been recognized as leaders in a variety of fields associated with Catholic higher education. Its graduates have gone on to successful careers in the world, bringing to bear upon our culture the riches of the Salesian Christian Humanism which they have learned.

The Salesian Center for Faith & Culture seeks to capitalize on the accomplishment of faculty and alumni and to build for future success by providing them with the means to facilitate work in the area of integrating faith and culture.