Mission & History
Service to Others
At Maria College, our mission is simple: to serve others. In the classroom and outside it, in our hallways and throughout the community, Maria students experience the difference of an education that is not only about acquiring knowledge but about giving of oneself.
The Maria Mission
Our curriculum is grounded in the humanities, seeking to instill in its graduates respect for the dignity of each person and the ability to transform learned skills into caring service. The ideal of “service to others” is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition and the ideals of the Sisters of Mercy, who founded and sponsor the College. The intent of the College is to deliver these programs with high academic standards, convenient scheduling formats for students of any age who will benefit from small classes and a warm, encouraging environment.
Maria has enjoyed more than five decades of growth, due in great part to the success of its graduates, but underlying this success is the delicate balance the College has maintained between its commitment to the liberal arts and the highly contemporary, career-oriented degrees it offers. This balance breathes life into an educational philosophy that seeks to instill in its graduates respect for the dignity of the individual, as well as the ability to transform learned skills into vehicles of service. The College, a nonprofit, independent, coeducational institution, serves nearly 1,000 students from across the Capital Region each year, and offers a bachelor’s degree program, as well as a variety of associate degree and certificate programs. Students can currently pursue the following degrees: RN Baccalaureate Completion Program, Associate in Applied Science (Management, Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant, and Paralegal); Associate in Arts (Liberal Arts – Concentrations in English, Psychology and Religious Studies/Philosophy); and Associate in Science (General Studies).
Because a Maria education has from its founding been grounded in the liberal arts, Maria’s degrees qualify for transfer to four-year institutions — a cost effective benefit that increasing numbers of its graduates elect. The wide range of associate degree programs is therefore both a gateway to a professional career and preparation for further education. Professional Certificate programs, which are especially attractive to students already in the workforce who wish to advance their careers, are available in the following: Bereavement Studies, Gerontology, Practical Nurse (LPN Training) and Paralegal.
Maria’s commitment to the needs of the individual student is nowhere more evident than in its guidance and counseling programs: academic guidance through a faculty advisor assigned each student; personal counseling through the Counseling Center; spiritual guidance through the Campus Ministry Office; and career guidance through the College’s Career Services Office, a service that is available to alumnae/i as well. A student/faculty ratio of 14:1 ensures personal attention and meaningful interaction with staff.
In 1958, the Religious Sisters of Mercy founded Maria as a Sister Formation and Liberal Arts college with a student body of 52. Today we serve just over 1,000 students, men and women, who attend our day, evening and weekend classes, and are enrolled in our online course offerings. From its founding, the mission of the College has been to educate for service — service to the greater Capital Region and to the communities in which its graduates live and work. Although Maria was established to educate the sisters of Mercy, the vision soon broadened with the College’s first degree program with enrollment open to the community: Early Childhood Education. All degree programs were opened to coeducational enrollment in 1971, and today male enrollment accounts for more than 20% of Maria’s student body.
To demonstrate its conviction that the opportunity to learn should be available to all serious students, Maria established innovative flexible scheduling formats. These formats serve those who want to learn—from recent high school graduates and those seeking to advance or change careers, to older students returning to school from the home—and whose personal schedules have excluded them from further education. In 1971, the College established an active Evening Division, which offers degrees in a three-year sequence. In 1981, Maria announced the first Weekend College in Northeastern New York, with classes every other weekend. The Weekend College, which makes it possible to earn an associate’s degree in a two-year time frame, best serves the needs of the mature student who must coordinate family and career responsibilities with educational opportunity.
The Learning Resource Center, which was created in 1982 and has become a major support service for Maria students, has two goals. The first is to provide tutorials for development/remediation in math computation and concepts, study skills and language arts; the second is to provide the general student body with supplemental learning materials. The center’s resources include computers and audiovisual equipment, and it is staffed and available to students in all divisions.
The College’s intimate campus helps create an academic atmosphere that embraces both the timeless and the contemporary: timeless, because of the commitment to humanities-based learning, and contemporary, because of the modern environment in which these classic convictions of the human spirit are nurtured.
Maria’s Main Building was constructed in 1959, and today houses classrooms, computer and information processing laboratories, multimedia and learning resource centers, administrative and faculty offices, and a working library with more than 60,000 volumes and on- and off-campus Internet access.
The cloistered convent of a Dominican order was purchased from the Catholic Diocese of Albany in 1970 to house Maria’s health care programs, and in 1984, was transformed into a state-of-the-art allied health facility. The convent—renamed Marian Hall—had been renovated to preserve architectural integrity and in 1986, was designated an historic building by the Historic Albany Foundation.
The Maria College tagline was created to embody Maria’s core values and goals. The three words chosen: “Aspire”, “Achieve” and “Become” were carefully strung together not solely on sound, but because of their meaning. The word “aspire” represents the dreams and goals of students, focusing on what they intend to do and why they choose to enroll at Maria College.
“Achieve” suggests success in the completion or accomplishment of these dreams. Students will take classes, study and ultimately complete their studies at Maria College, achieving a higher level of both education and personal growth.
Finally, the word “Become” represents not only that Maria’s students have changed and are now prepared to be all that they aspire to, but additionally represents an ongoing action to carry into the future. Become, now and down the line, a better, happier, productive person. This word was chosen to represent the transformative value of Maria.
The beautiful arches in the “A’s” of the logo type are representative of the architecture throughout Marian Hall and the stained glass windows which lend a contemporary yet historical perspective to the logo.
- respond to suffering with sensitivity and loving care.
- learn to observe with the eyes and ears of the heart.
- reach out to others in need.
- are kind and considerate.
- seek to forgive rather than harbor grudges.
- are not judgmental.
- seek to translate learned skills into competent and caring service.
- cultivate awareness and sensitivity to persons in need, particularly the poor and disenfranchised.
- use our personal and professional gifts for life enhancement.
- deepen and assimilate more conscious practices of peace, justice and nonviolence.
- strive for academic excellence.
- nurture a reverence for learning.
- maintain high standards of scholarship and academic integrity.
- develop intellectual curiosity and the practice of critical thinking.
- recognize education as an ongoing process.
- advocate the fostering of meaningful relationships.
- stand in solidarity with others, both in suffering and in celebration.
- are hospitable to all persons, lifestyles and ideas.
- seek out possibilities of creative connections.
- create opportunities for communication and communion.
- manifest values of complementarity, collaboration and interdependence.
- develop a global perspective.
- seek to develop congruence in word and deed.
- take responsibility for our own choices.
- are mindful of the connectedness of body, mind, soul and spirit.
- strive for honesty in all spheres of life and work.
- are impeccable with our word.
- reverence the dignity of all persons and the beauty of creation.
- practice reverence.
- maintain a spirit of openness to persons, ideas, and new ways of thinking and being.
- increase our awareness of the sacredness of the earth and work more effectively toward the sustainability of life and the dignity of all persons.