NDNU 150:  Charter Celebration

Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is celebrating the milestone 150th year of the charter received from the State of California throughout 2018 to honor our history and hear the stories of the early founders, students, and educators.

What is the charter?

The Academy of Notre Dame was founded as a school for female students in San Jose in 1851 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In 1868, the Sisters received from the State of California a charter that accredited degrees from the school, which then changed its name to the College of Notre Dame. This made the college the first school in California to be chartered to grant the baccalaureate degree to women.

Brief History

The Academy of Notre Dame, established in 1851 in San Jose, grew quickly in the first two decades after its founding. The sisters were aware that having a charter from the State of California would be an important step, both in terms of providing legitimacy for the degrees they had already begun to award on their own, and to create financial stability for the college. California granted their request for a charter on June 20, 1868, making the school then called the College of Notre Dame the first institution in the state to confer the baccalaureate degree on women.

The sisters quickly moved in the next couple of months to incorporate the college. This gave the institution legal status as a corporation, allowing the sisters greater leeway in fundraising, since they were now an entity that could borrow from lending institutions, not just from sympathetic supporters.

The sisters who founded the institution that became Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) in 2001 were resourceful, extremely hardworking, farsighted, and highly intelligent. Inspired by their faith and by their calling to provide quality instruction, they built the foundation for women’s higher education in California and for Notre Dame de Namur University.

The campus moved from its original location in San Jose to Belmont, and we are now working to revive Ralston Hall as the heart of the university. Concurrently, Ralston Hall Mansion is also celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.





Yesterday and Today: Celebrating 150th year of the charter

The magazine of Notre Dame de Namur University, winter 2018 edition. Stories include the 2017 year in review, a feature history of the university foundresses, alumni class notes and more!

#NDNU150 Flashback

Did You Know: Some of the university’s first students were from Hawaii?  This photo of Anita Purdy, Marion Dowsett, Helen Rowland, Louise Bradley, and Abigail Campbell taken at their graduation in 1900 was featured 50 years later in the society page of the Honolulu Star Bulletin.