History of Ashford University
In 1890, the Sisters of St. Francis fled poverty in Kentucky and were accepted into the Diocese of Dubuque, Iowa. Soon after, they settled for good in Clinton, Iowa where the school at which they had been hired to teach has remained.
In 1893 the Sisters purchased the Judge Chase property, where they collocated their secondary school for woman with the Mount St. Clare Academy, a boarding high school for girls. As enrollment grew, they moved (with their St. Bernard) to the elegant Corbin House, which they converted into a school that eventually became Ashford University’s residential campus.
The Sisters added junior college collegiate work, becoming Mt. St. Clare College (MSC).
Mt. St. Clare College held its first formal commencement in 1930 and from 1932-1954, the College’s teacher education program prepared 62 percent of all teachers who worked in the schools of Clinton County.
The College was first accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and maintained it until being accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) in 2013.
Construction of a spacious two-story library building was completed. The St. Francis Auditorium-Gymnasium was built, construction of Durham Hall, a residence hall, was completed in 1962, and the Science Building was built in 1965.
In 1967, 37 years after it awarded its first associate degree, Mt. St. Clare College chose to become more inclusive and open its doors to men.
Mt. St. Clare College received approval to award baccalaureate degrees. The first degree offered was in business administration.
The first student to complete coursework for a Bachelor of Arts degree did so in December 1980. The first baccalaureate degree was conferred during graduation in May 1981.
Graduate coursework was added to the college’s offerings.
The Durgin Educational Center building on campus was completed in April. The first commencement ceremony was held in the Center the following month, and it was officially dedicated in September.
In December 2002, Mt. St. Clare College became The Franciscan University. In May 2004, the University conferred its first master’s degrees. Later that year, the name changed again to The Franciscan University of the Prairies.
The Sisters of St. Francis sold the university to Bridgepoint Education, Inc., a higher education organization, and its name was changed to Ashford University.
While the residential campus maintained enrollment, the Ashford Online Center in Clinton, Iowa opened, making Ashford’s academic programs available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Ashford University partnered with the Clinton LumberKings (Midwest League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners) to rename historic Riverview Stadium as “Ashford University Field.”
Ashford University acquired a new logo, the badge of achievement. The spring commencement ceremony took place at the iWireless Center in Moline, IL.
In July, Ashford University became accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). In November, the College of Business and Professional Studies became the Forbes School of Business® due to the alliance formed between Ashford University and Forbes Media.
San Diego, California hosted the fall commencement ceremony for the first time at the San Diego Convention Center.
Both spring and fall commencement ceremonies were held in San Diego at the Viejas Arena with a celebration day at the San Diego campus the day before commencement. The campus in Clinton, Iowa began its transition from the N. Bluff Blvd. location to the 19th Ave. location at the former Ashford Online Center. The Forbes School of Business announced their new name, the Forbes School of Business & Technology™, reflecting the University’s commitment to and incorporation of technology into its academic programs.
The Ashford Online Center became the Ashford University Clinton Campus, offering business administration degrees at both the bachelor’s and master’s level in a hybrid format. A Student Veteran Center also opened to provide additional access and support to the region’s military population.
In March, the University announced its plan to merge with University of the Rockies to become one institution and to separate from Bridgepoint Education. As a combined institution, Ashford University will return to an independent, non-profit university. In May, a Student Veterans Center and Online Student Services facility was opened in Tempe, Arizona.
In August, to honor and celebrate the University’s 100-year presence in Clinton, Iowa, the Clinton Chamber of Commerce presented Ashford University leadership with a Progress Award, and Mayor Vulich read the official Ashford University Week proclamation.