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College of the Holy Cross

College of the Holy Cross
Latin: Collegium Sanctae Crucis
MottoIn hoc signo vinces (Latin)
TypePrivate liberal arts college
EstablishedOctober 1843; 180 years ago (October 1843)
FounderBenedict Joseph Fenwick
Thomas F. Mulledy
Religious affiliation
Catholic (Jesuit)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$1.273 billion (2022)[1]
PresidentVincent Rougeau
Academic staff
Location, ,

42°14′21″N 71°48′30″W / 42.23917°N 71.80833°W / 42.23917; -71.80833
CampusSuburban, 174 acres
(70 ha)
Colors Purple  and  White 
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I
upright=.8 College of the Holy Cross U.S. National Register of Historic Places Location Fenwick and O'Kane Halls, surrounding landscaping Area 2.6 acres (1.1 ha) Built 1843 Architect Lamb, Capt. Edward, et al. Architectural style Classical Revival, Gothic, Second Empire MPS Worcester MRA NRHP reference No. 80000491[4] Added to NRHP March 5, 1980

The College of the Holy Cross is a private Jesuit liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was founded by educators Benedict Joseph Fenwick and Thomas F. Mulledy in 1843 under the auspices of the Society of Jesus. Holy Cross was the first Catholic college in New England and is among the oldest Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

Holy Cross is a four-year residential undergraduate institution with approximately 3,000 students. Students choose from 64 academic programs, including interdisciplinary and self-designed majors in liberal arts disciplines. The college is situated on a hill overlooking the Blackstone River and Worcester; its 174-acre (70 ha) campus is located approximately 45 miles west from Boston.

Admissions to Holy Cross are selective, with 21% of applicants being admitted in the 2023 academic year for the class of 2027.[5] The college has one of the largest endowments of any liberal arts college in the United States, and is one of the academically competitive Hidden Ivies. In 1986, Holy Cross joined the Patriot League, where its athletic teams compete as the Crusaders in NCAA Division I.

Notable graduates of Holy Cross include recipients of Emmy, Grammy, Academy, and Tony awards; 5 Rhodes Scholars,[6] 5 Marshall Scholars,[7] 6 Truman Scholars,[8] Goldwater Scholars and Watson Fellows; Pulitzer Prize winners, a Nobel Prize laureate,[a] U.S. Senators,[b] and Olympic athletes. Other notable alumni include Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The college is a top producer of Fulbright scholars, having graduated 182 grantees.[10]



The College of the Holy Cross was founded by Benedict Joseph Fenwick, second Bishop of Boston, as the first Catholic college in New England.[11][12] Its establishment followed Fenwick's efforts to create a Catholic college in Boston which had been thwarted by the city's Protestant civic leaders.[13] From the beginning of his tenure as bishop, Fenwick intended to establish a Catholic college within the boundaries of his diocese; a new influx of immigrants after 1830, consisting mostly of Catholic Irish Americans, prompted the need for a Jesuit educational institution.[14] He petitioned the Society of Jesus to seek their approval in establishing an institution in Worcester and they sent Thomas F. Mulledy to prepare a report regarding Fenwick's proposal.[15] Mulledy's favorable report secured the Society's approval in August 1843.[16]

Relations with Boston's civic leaders worsened such that, when a Jesuit faculty was finally secured in 1843, Fenwick decided to leave the Boston school and instead opened the College of the Holy Cross 45 miles (72 km) west of the city in central Massachusetts, where he felt the Jesuits could operate with greater autonomy.[15] The bishop's letters record his enthusiasm for the project as well as for its location:

Next May I shall lay the foundation of a splendid College in Worcester ... It is calculated to contain 100 boys and I shall take them for $125 per an. & supply them with everything but clothes. Will not this be a bold undertaking? Nevertheless I will try it. It will stand on a beautiful eminence & will command the view of the whole town of Worcester.[15]

The site of the college, Mount Saint James, was originally occupied by a Roman Catholic boarding school run by James Fitton, with his lay collaborator Joseph Brigden. On February 2, 1843, Fitton sold the land to Fenwick and the Diocese of Boston to be used to found the Roman Catholic college that the bishop had wanted in Boston.[13] Fenwick gave the college the name of his cathedral church, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Fenwick Hall, named after Benedict Joseph Fenwick, was one of Holy Cross' inaugural structures. The building's cornerstone was laid on June 21, 1843[17]


Bishop Benedict Joseph Fenwick, founder of Holy Cross

The school opened in October 1843 with Jesuit Thomas F. Mulledy, former president of Georgetown University, as its first president, and on the second day of November, with six students aged 9 to 19, the first classes were held.[13] Within three years, the enrollment had increased to 100 students. Initially the education was more at the elementary and high school level; later it became a higher level institution.

Since its founding, Holy Cross has produced the fifth most members of the Catholic clergy out of all American Catholic colleges. The first class graduated in 1849, led by the valedictorian James Augustine Healy, the mixed-race son of an Irish planter in Georgia and his common-law wife, a mulatto former slave. Healy is now recognized as the first African-American bishop in the United States, but at the time he identified as white Irish Catholic.[18] His father sent all his sons north for their education at Holy Cross College; two other sons became priests, and three daughters also made careers in the Catholic Church.[13]

Fenwick Hall, the school's main building, was completely destroyed by fire in 1852. Funds were raised to rebuild the college, and in 1853 it opened for the second time.[15]

Petitions to secure a charter for the college from the state legislature were denied in 1847 for a variety of reasons, including anti-Catholicism on the part of some legislators. The increased rate of immigration from Ireland during the famine years roused resistance from some residents of Massachusetts.[13] Initially, Holy Cross diplomas were signed by the president of Georgetown University. After repeated denials, a charter was finally granted on March 24, 1865, by Governor John Albion Andrew.[15]

Modern history

Éamon de Valera, President of Ireland, was conferred an honorary degree in 1920

During World War II, College of the Holy Cross was one of 131 colleges and universities that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[19]

In 1998, Holy Cross initiated an eight-year capital campaign, "Lift High the Cross", with a three-year quiet period. The campaign for Holy Cross ended in fiscal 2006 with $216.3 million raised, surpassing its original goal of $175 million.[20] The funds allowed Holy Cross to establish an additional 12 new faculty positions, along with more than 75 newly endowed scholarships for students. During the campaign, the college's endowment grew to more than $544 million.[21]

On July 1, 2000, Michael C. McFarland became the president of the college. In 2011, Philip L. Boroughs, the Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Georgetown University, was named McFarland's successor.[22] In 2021, he was succeeded by Vincent D. Rougeau, Dean of the Boston College Law School. Rougeau is the first lay and first black president in the history of the college.[23]

In early 2018, the college began publicly exploring the possibility of changing its "Crusader" mascot and associated imagery. The college's leadership ultimately decided to keep the mascot, distinguishing its use of the nickname from the historical associations with the Crusades.[24]

In 2019, the college ended its need-blind admissions policy.[25]


Fenwick Hall, named after Benedict Joseph Fenwick, is the college's flagship building
Alumni Hall
Right Wing of Fenwick
O'Kane Hall, originally constructed as an extension of Fenwick Hall, opened in 1895

Holy Cross is located on one of seven hills in the city outskirts of Worcester, Massachusetts.[26] Its 175-acre (0.71 km2) campus is a registered arboretum and is marked by an irregular layout situated on the northern slope of the Mount Saint James hill, where a panoramic view of the city of Worcester is visible. The Princeton Review ranked the campus as #5 most beautiful campus in the nation in 2010 and consistently ranks the campus in the top 15. The design and landscape is ingrained into many themes and nicknames for the school which is collectively known as "The Hill".[26]

The 37 college buildings include residential housing and academic buildings in the middle sections of the campus and athletic and practice facilities on the outskirts on its northern and southern ends. Holy Cross also owns six non-campus properties.[27]

Anchoring the traditional campus gateway of Linden Lane are Stein and O'Kane Halls, the latter of which is marked by a clock tower. The oldest part of campus lies in this area with O'Kane is connected to Fenwick Hall, the first building designed in 1843. It also houses the admissions offices and the Brooks Concert Hall. This area includes on the hillside three bronze statues by Enzo Plazzotta, Georg Klobe, and Welrick. The area around Fenwick and O'Kane Halls is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[28]

Notable buildings west of this area are Dinand Library; Smith Hall, the Hogan Campus Center; the Anthony S. Fauci Integrated Science Complex housing O'Neil, Swords, and Haberlin Halls; and Beaven Hall, a former dormitory which is home to an assortment of academic departments. The science complex was renamed for Dr. Anthony Fauci in 2022.[29][30] Smith Hall, which opened in 2001, was financed in large part by Holy Cross alumnus Park B. Smith, notable for being built into a hillside of the campus.[31] Smith Hall connects lower campus, where much of the academic life occurs, and the upper campus, where much of the social and residential life takes place on campus, due to its design which incorporates Fenwick Hall.[32] A plaza outside Smith Hall, named Memorial Plaza, commemorates seven Holy Cross alumni who perished in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

To the eastern end of campus lies Millard Art Center, St. Joseph Memorial Chapel, the Chaplains' Office (Campion House), and Loyola Hall, which served as the Jesuit residence in the past, but has since been converted into another hall for student housing.[33] The most recent former Jesuit residence, Ciampi Hall, which has been converted to dormitories along with the new townhouse style senior housing buildings, lie on the southwest side of campus. The Joanne Chouinard-Luth Recreation and Wellness Center is one of the college's athletic centers, having finished construction in 2020 to replace the former Field House.[34]

The Prior Performing Arts Center, completed in 2022, houses the Cantor Art Gallery[35]

The newest Jesuit housing is located on Kendig Street near the Luth Athletic Complex.[36][37] The Prior Performing Arts Center is located near the Hogan Campus center, slightly north of the crest of Mount Saint James. The $110 million 84,000 square foot facility opened in 2022 to provide a center for the arts on campus.[38] Its construction continued the general trend of expanding upper campus with new construction.[39]

In 2015, Holy Cross announced the construction of a $22 million facility in West Boylston, Massachusetts, comprising 52 acres and a complex to provide a retreat for students.[40] It was opened in September 2016 as the Thomas P. Joyce '59 Contemplative Center.[41]


The Holy Cross Library System is composed of four libraries centrally located within the campus grounds. Including its affiliation with the Central Massachusetts Regional Library System, a collaborative formed in 2003 by more than 20 academic, public, and special libraries with research collections in the central Massachusetts area, Holy Cross students have access to a combined total of approximately 3.8 million volumes and more than 23,000 journal, magazine, and newspaper subscriptions held among the 20-plus regional institutions.[42]

Dinand Library
Dinand Library

Dinand Library serves as the college's main library. It holds an estimated 601,930 books, serials, and periodicals. Originally opened in 1927, it expanded in 1978 with two new wings dedicated to the memory of Joshua and Leah Hiatt and victims of the Nazi Holocaust. The reading room of Dinand is also the scene of college gatherings, among them the Presidential Awards Ceremony, first-year orientation presentations, and concerts.[43]

Constructed in the 1920s, the room's ceiling is sectioned in a grid-like pattern and embellished with gold, painted trim, and carvings along the top of the interior walls. Large wooden candelabra are suspended from the ceiling, and Ionic columns – echoing those on the Library's exterior – anchor three sides of the room. The main reference collection of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and bibliographies are found within Dinand as well as the on-line catalog, and a staffed reference desk.[43]

Fenwick, O'Callahan, Rehm, Visual Resources, and Worcester Art Museum libraries
O'Kane Hall and clock tower, view from northern end of campus.

The five smaller libraries are Fenwick Music Library, O'Callahan Science Library, the Rehm Library, the Visual Resources Library, and the Worcester Art Museum Library.

The Fenwick Music Library was founded in 1978. The Music Library houses collections of scores and recordings of 20th-century composers, world music recordings, and composer biographies. The Music Library owns many of the authoritative editions of significant composers' collected works, such as Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.[44]

The O'Callahan Science Library, named in honor of Joseph T. O'Callahan, houses over 95,000 volumes of works and periodicals serving the college's biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics departments and the more neuroscientific side of psychology.[45]

The Rehm Library, dedicated in September 2001, is housed within Smith Hall. It serves as the primary public space for the Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture and other departments with offices within Smith Hall. Rehm Library houses a non-circulating collection of primary texts from an array of religious traditions. It was named in honor of alumnus Jack Rehm '54 and his family.

College Archives

Dinand Library also houses the College Archives which collects, preserves, and arranges records of permanent value from the college's foundation in 1843 to the present. The archives contain complete runs of all college publications including yearbooks, the college catalog, The Crusader, its predecessor The Tomahawk, the literary magazine The Purple, newsletters, pamphlets, and similar material. An extensive photograph collection documents administrators, staff, faculty, students, alumni, athletic teams, student activities, the built environment, and college life in general.[46]

There is also an extensive collection of audiovisual material documenting theatrical plays, lectures, and sporting and other events. The College Archives also hold a Special Collections section which consists of a Rare Book Collection and the Jesuitana Collection (material by and about Jesuits). Noted collections include the papers of James Michael Curley, David I. Walsh, Louise Imogen Guiney, and Joseph J. Williams. There are also collections of material by and about Jesuits, college alumni, and friends of the college. The papers and medals of the first naval chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor, Joseph T. O'Callahan, are kept in the college archives. The archives also hold research material about Catholic New England, the education of deaf Catholics, the Holocaust, and New England history.[47]

Environmental sustainability

Joanne Chouinard-Luth Recreation and Wellness Center

In 2007, citing the college's commitment to Jesuit values, President Michael C. McFarland signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.[48] The college's plan required the institution to reduce its carbon emissions by 20% before 2015.[49] As an ultimate goal, Holy Cross aims to be carbon neutral by 2040.[50] Holy Cross has taken numerous steps toward environmental sustainability, which has led to the reduction of the institution's carbon emissions by 46.8 percent between 2007 and 2017 according to the latest data.[51]

The college entered a contract with Zipcar to operate four cars to reduce the need for individually owned cars on campus.[52] Weather permitting, public safety officers operate battery powered cars and bicycles.[52] Additionally, Kimball dining hall, the main dining hall of the college, went trayless in 2009.[53]


Smith Hall houses the philosophy and religious study departments

Holy Cross is noted for its departments in political science, economics, chemistry, classics,[c] and literature.[54] Programs in sociology, psychology, and mathematics are also popular among students, as are concentrations in philosophy and religious studies which relate to Jesuit focuses.[55]

Holy Cross has 328 faculty members who teach 3,142 undergraduate students.[56] It offers 28 majors mainly focused on a liberal arts curriculum, each of which leads to the completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree; the college is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.[57]

All B.A. candidates must successfully complete 32 semester courses in eight semesters of full-time study to graduate. Common requirements include one course each in arts, literature, religion, philosophy, history, and cross-cultural studies; and two courses each in language studies, social science, and natural and mathematical sciences.[58] Its most popular majors, by 2021 graduates, were: Economics (131), Psychology (102), Political Science & Government (88), English Language and Literature (54), Biology/Biological Sciences (52), History (46).[59]

Social justice and volunteerism

Henry M. Hogan Campus Center

In 2010, Holy Cross obtained the highest rank of the 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities in the percentage of its graduates who go on to serve in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.[60]

Holy Cross has embraced sometimes controversial schools of theological thought, including liberation theology and social justice. As a result, in 1974, Time magazine referred to Holy Cross as the "cradle of the Catholic Left" because it educated Philip Berrigan and socialist leader Michael Harrington, author of the influential book on poverty, The Other America.[61]

Holy Cross, similar to the religious order of the Jesuits as a whole, has been criticized by some parties for being overly liberal and deviating substantially from official Church teaching and papal directives, especially on such issues as abortion, homosexuality,[62] liberation theology, and in its sponsorship of events such as the Vagina Monologues.[63] Since 2000, the college has hosted a conference allowing seminars from Planned Parenthood and NARAL. In 2007, Robert Joseph McManus, the diocese's bishop, wrote the college asking McFarland to cancel the event, and threatened to remove the Catholic status of the college if the conference was not cancelled.[64]

In 2001, Holy Cross was one of 28 colleges and universities in the country to receive a grant from the Lilly Endowment in the amount of $2 million.[65] With the grant, the school launched a five-year program to "make theological and spiritual resources available to students as they discern their life work, including consideration of vocations of ministerial service within religious denominations". The grant has also been used to fund internships within the city of Worcester and Worcester County for students considering career opportunities in ministry, government, and social service agencies.[65]

Rankings and reputation

Academic rankings
Liberal arts
U.S. News & World Report[66]27
Washington Monthly[67]18
WSJ/College Pulse[69]60

U.S. News & World Report ranked Holy Cross tied for 27th in the U.S. among liberal arts colleges for 2023,[70] 41st for best undergraduate education, 89th in "Best Value Schools", and tied for 59th in "Top Performers on Social Mobility".[71] Holy Cross is the highest ranking Catholic college among the top 30 liberal arts schools on the U.S. News list. The college is a top producer of Fulbright scholars,[10] of which it has graduated 182 recipients as of 2023.[72][73]

Money ranked Holy Cross as the 5th best liberal arts college in the U.S. as of 2022.[74] In 2019, Forbes ranked Holy Cross 77th among all colleges and universities in its "America's Top Colleges" list and 33rd among liberal arts colleges.[75] In 2020, Washington Monthly ranked Holy Cross 18th among liberal arts colleges in the U.S. based on its contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.[76]

Kiplinger's Personal Finance places Holy Cross at 15th in its 2019 ranking of 149 best value liberal arts colleges in the United States.[77] In PayScale's 2019–20 study, Holy Cross ranked 17th in the nation among liberal arts colleges for mid-career salary potential.[78]

In the 2023 Times Higher Education ranking of top Catholic colleges and universities published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Holy Cross placed fourth nationally.[79] In the WSJ and College Pulse 2024 rankings, Holy Cross was the seventh best college in Massachusetts and the 60th best college nationally.[80]


Admissions statistics
2023 entering
class[81]Change vs.

Admit rate21%
(Neutral decrease −18)
Yield rate45%
(Increase +13.8)
Test scores middle 50%
SAT EBRW680–730
SAT Math660–720
ACT Composite29–33
High school GPA[i]
Top 10%61%
Top 25%86%
  1. ^ Among students whose school ranked

Admissions to Holy Cross is considered "more selective" by U.S News & World Report.[83] In 2023, the school reported its lowest admissions rate in its history—21 percent—among the largest applicant pool.[5] Holy Cross has traditionally drawn many of its students from a pool of historical Catholic high schools and private boarding schools, though a majority of current undergraduates come from public schools.[56]

In 2022, the middle 50% SAT score range for those who submitted a score was 1260–1430 out of 1600; the middle 50% ACT composite score range was 28–32.[84] Holy Cross admitted its first women students in 1972, and its student population is currently majority female.[56] Holy Cross was described as one of the Hidden Ivies for its academics and admissions process which are comparable to the Ivy League in the guide The Hidden Ivies, 3rd Edition: 63 of America's Top Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities, published in 2016.[85]

In May 2005, Holy Cross announced that it would no longer make standardized test scores an admissions requirement. College officials said this policy would reduce the importance of admissions tests and place greater weight on the academic experience of a candidate as demonstrated through the high school transcript and recommendations.[86] Tuition for full-time students for the 2022–23 academic year is $57,600.[87]

Student life

Residential life

St. Joseph Memorial Chapel is Holy Cross' primary spiritual building, constructed as a memorial to alumni who perished in WWI[88]

Upperclassmen students can choose, depending on the results of the housing lottery held in the Spring, between the Easy Street residence halls, minus Hanselman, or the upperclass residence halls in the lower portion of campus: Alumni, Carlin, and Loyola. Additionally, seniors have the options of Williams Hall, formerly known as "The Senior Apartments", Figge Hall and the townhouses.[89]

The apartments in Williams Hall, Figge Hall and the senior townhouses are the most sought after living arrangements on campus. For Williams and Figge Halls, each apartment houses four students and is equipped with a bathroom with separate shower, kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. Williams Hall was completed in 2003 and rededicated in honor of Edward Bennett Williams on April 26, 2008.[89] In 2011, the college dedicated Figge Hall, located on the upper campus closer to the Easy Street halls.[90]

Second-year to fourth-year students also have the option of living off-campus but only a small percentage do so, as the school has built additional housing in recent years and the number of desirable apartments near campus is limited.[89]

Student groups

Wheeler Hall, opened in January 1940, was the college's first fully integrated dorm[91]
Memorial Plaza
Beaven Hall
Kimball Hall, completed in 1935, houses the college's dining hall

A large number of student organizations are associated with the college. With its relative distance from a major city, and without a Greek life at Holy Cross, undergraduate social life revolves around a number of school-sponsored groups, events, and off-campus houses on nearby city streets (notably Boyden, Cambridge, Caro, Chelsea, Clay, College, and Southbridge streets) which are open to upperclassmen.

The college also features a variety of student journals, media, and newspapers including The Fenwick Review, a journal of conservative thought; The Advocate, a journal based in liberal principles; and The Spire, the weekly newspaper published by Holy Cross students for the college community.[92]

Holy Cross has a student-run radio station, WCHC-FM 88.1. WCHC is a non-profit radio station that broadcasts commercial-free year round. The athletics department carries live broadcasts of many of the school's football, basketball, and hockey games. Holy Cross also has a law journal, The Holy Cross Journal of Law & Public Policy, which is published annually by undergraduate students. The Campus Activities Board (CAB), a student-run organization, runs several committees that oversee campus-wide activities and student services with a focus on evening and weekend programming. The Student Government Association (SGA) charters and provides most of the funding for these programs, and represents students' interests when dealing with the administration.[93]

The largest student organization at Holy Cross, Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD), is a community service organization sponsored by the college Chaplains' Office consisting of over 45 different outreach programs and over 600 active members.[94] Other volunteer and social justice programs offered by Holy Cross include Pax Christi, the Appalachia Service Project, Oxfam America (formerly Student Coalition on Hunger and Homelessness (SCOHAH), and the Arrupe Immersion Program, named in honor of Pedro Arrupe, which Holy Cross describes as "a faith based program responding to the call to work for peace and justice in the world".[95]

The Holy Cross Knights of Columbus council is the third oldest college council in the order having been established in 1929.[96]

Formed in 1845, the Holy Cross Goodtime Marching Band is one of the oldest organizations at the college, and one of the oldest college bands in the United States.[97] They are joined at athletic events by the Holy Cross Cheer Team.[98]

Insignia and representations of Holy Cross


The school color is purple. There are two theories of how Holy Cross chose purple as its official color. One suggests it was derived from the royal purple used by Constantine the Great (born about 275 A.D., died in 337 A.D.) as displayed on his labarum (military standard) and on those of later Christian emperors of Rome.[99]

College seal

The seal of the College of the Holy Cross is described as follows:

The outer circle states in Latin "College of the Holy Cross, Society of Jesus, Worcester, Massachusetts".

The inner shield contains an open book (symbol of learning) and a cross of gold (symbol of Christian faith). Written in the book is the college's motto, In Hoc Signo Vinces, which translates as, "By this sign thou shalt conquer". The phrase is credited to Constantine the Great.

The cross divides the lower part of the shield into quarters, which are alternately red and sable, the colors on the ancient shield of Worcester, England. The upper part of the shield has in its center the emblem of the Society of Jesus, a blazing sun with the letters IHS, the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek. On either side is a martlet, reminiscent of those on the ancestral crest of Bishop Fenwick.[100]


Holy Cross's athletic teams for both men and women are known as the Crusaders. It is reported that the name "Crusader" was first associated with Holy Cross in 1884 at an alumni banquet in Boston, where an engraved Crusader mounted on an armored horse appeared at the head of the menu.[99] In 2018, the college decided to phase out of using the Knight imagery, retiring the Holy Cross mascot Iggy T. Crusader. Holy Cross opted instead for the secondary (now primary) logo of a purple shield with an interlocking "HC".


The Crusaders men's lacrosse team plays a game against the Colgate Raiders in 2015

Holy Cross sponsors 27 varsity sports, all of which compete at the NCAA Division I level (FCS for football). The Crusaders are members of the Patriot League, the Atlantic Hockey Association for men's ice hockey, and Hockey East Association in women's ice hockey. Of its 27 varsity teams, Holy Cross supports 13 men's and 14 women's sports. The carrying of 26 Division I varsity programs gives Holy Cross the largest ratio of teams-per-enrollment in the country.

The college is a founding member of the Patriot League, and claims that one-quarter of its student body participates in its varsity athletic programs. The league began allowing schools to offer athletic scholarships for all sports except football in 2001, after American University joined the league, and in 2012 league members were authorized to offer football scholarships as well.[101]

Principal athletic facilities include the Fitton Field football stadium (capacity 23,500), Hart Recreation Center's basketball court (3,600), the Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field (3,000), Hart Ice Rink (1,600), Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium (1,320), and Smith Wellness Center located inside the Hart Center. The Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium opened in the fall of 2006.

Holy Cross is one of eight schools[102] to have won an NCAA championship in both baseball and basketball, having won the 1952 College World Series and the 1947 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. The college has also won the 1954 National Invitation Tournament and participated in the 1946 Orange Bowl. Since electing to focus more on academics than athletics, the college has had several notable moments on the national stage. In 2006, the Holy Cross men's ice hockey team upset the No. 1 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers in the 2006 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. In 2016, the Holy Cross men's basketball team qualified for the NCAA tournament, earning its first tournament win since 1953.[103]


As of November 2021, Holy Cross had more than 38,000 alumni. There are currently 25 active alumni clubs in the U.S. and 1 international club.[104] Holy Cross alumni have made significant contributions in the fields of government, law, academia, business, arts, journalism, and athletics, among others. Alumni of the college are particularly overrepresented in the U.S. Congress, where Holy Cross has one of the highest ratios of members of Congress to students.[105]

Clarence Thomas, United States Supreme Court Justice; Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and NBC's The Chris Matthews Show; and Basketball Hall of Fame members and Boston Celtics immortals Bob Cousy and Tom Heinsohn are among the college's most famous alumni. LSD pioneer Timothy Leary was a student at Holy Cross, though he withdrew after two years. Michael Harrington, author of The Other America and an influential figure in initiating the 1960s War on Poverty, was a graduate of the college, as was the famed pacifist leader Phillip Berrigan. Wendell Arthur Garrity, United States federal judge famous for issuing the 1974 order that Boston schools be desegregated by means of busing, is also an alumnus. Alumnus Thomas G. Kelley received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War. Washington, D.C., lawyer Edward Bennett Williams was also a graduate. In addition to his legal career, Williams owned the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles.

Bob Casey, Sr., Pennsylvania governor, Bob Casey, Jr., his son, Pennsylvania treasurer and U.S. Senator, and Edward D. DiPrete, Governor of Rhode Island are among the most notable alumni with involvement in politics. Jon Favreau, Director of Speechwriting for President Barack Obama and co-creator of Pod Save America. Mark Kennedy Shriver, member of the Kennedy political family and Vice President and managing director of U.S. Programs for the charity Save the Children, graduated from Holy Cross in 1986. In 2003, an honorary degree and public platform was given to pro-choice Holy Cross alumnus Chris Matthews despite pro-life alumni objections. College President Michael McFarland defended the invitation and degree, despite clear direction from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop policies and Catholic Church policies never to give a public platform to those at odds with central holdings of the Church, such as the teachings on abortion. McFarland along with the majority of the current Holy Cross community continue to defend this, stating that while Matthews is pro-choice, that is not his defining characteristic and he did not talk purely about abortion in his speech.[106]

Several alumni have held top positions in the world of business and finance: Bob Wright, Chairman & CEO, NBC Universal, and Vice Chairman, General Electric; James David Power III, J.D. Power and Associates founder; William J. McDonough, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Vice Chairman of Merrill Lynch.

In media and the arts, Holy Cross has several distinguished alumni: Ann Dowd, Emmy-winning actress best known for her roles in The Handmaid's Tale and The Leftovers;[107] Neil Hopkins, actor best known for his roles in Lost and Nip/Tuck; Bill Simmons, sports columnist and head of The Ringer, Channel 33, and the Bill Simmons Podcast Network; Dan Shaughnessy, sports columnist for The Boston Globe; Bartlett Sher, Tony Award-winning Broadway director; Joe McGinniss, bestselling author of The Selling of the President, Fatal Vision, and other books; Edward P. Jones, 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner in fiction for writing The Known World; Billy Collins, 2001–03 Poet Laureate of the United States; Dave Anderson, The New York Times sports columnist, 1981 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary; Jack Higgins, editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Sun-Times, 1989 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning; and Kevin O'Connor, the host of TV's This Old House. In art and architecture, Vito Acconci.

In the sciences, Holy Cross also has several notable alumni, including Joseph Murray, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Medicine; immunologist Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical advisor to the president; and MacArthur Foundation "genius" bioengineer Jim Collins.

See also


  1. ^ Joseph E. Murray, a 1940 graduate of Holy Cross, won the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with E. Donnall Thomas for performing the world's first organ transplant.[9]
  2. ^ Incumbent U.S. Senators Peter Welch (Vermont) and Bob Casey Jr. (Pennsylvania) graduated from Holy Cross in 1969 and 1982, respectively.
  3. ^ The college houses one of the largest departments in the country dedicated to the classics.[54]


  1. ^ "Holy Cross at a Glance". College of the Holy Cross. Archived from the original on April 17, 2019. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  2. ^ "College of the Holy Cross Common Data Set 2022–2023" (PDF). 2022. Retrieved May 14, 2023.
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