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University of Albuquerque Records

Identifier: MSS-507-BC

Scope and Content

Upon the closing of the University of Albuquerque (1986), the institutional archive was transferred to the University of New Mexico Libraries Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections. The archive consists of administrative records--annual and miscellaneous other reports; files related to departments and academic programs; Board of Trustee and Faculty Senate reports; and correspondence. It also comprises publications and other printed material such as catalogs, bulletins, brochures, schedules, programs, handbooks, directories, newspapers, newsletters, and yearbooks; and miscellaneous materials such as scrapbooks. All photographs have been transferred to the Photoarchives.


  • 1940-1986


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Institutional History

The University of Albuquerque, a co-educational liberal arts college located on Albuquerque's west side, was founded in 1920 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Lafayette, Indiana. The University, which closed its doors in 1986, was also formerly known as the College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande (from 1947 to 1965), and Catholic Teachers' College of New Mexico (from 1940 to 1947).

The Sisters of St. Francis, an order known throughout the West for the building of hospitals and orphanages, had been teaching in the mission schools of New Mexico since 1904. In response to the growing need for continuing education for all teaching Sisters in New Mexico, the Sisters established the St. Francis Summer College in 1920. Courses were conducted as an extension of St. Bonaventure College in New York, with Father Albert O'Brien, a professor of philosophy, serving as President until his death in 1937. Classes were held at the St. Anthony Home for Boys (located at Indian School Road and 12th Street), a school founded in 1913 by the Sisters of St. Francis.

In 1940, in order to meet increasing needs, the summer college was chartered as a full-time teachers college. Known as the Catholic Teachers College of New Mexico, it was accredited through affiliation with the Catholic University of America. In 1946, after the archdiocese acquired the property of the former Lourdes Seminary of the Fathers of St. Joseph, about five miles south of Albuquerque, the college was relocated from St. Anthony's to that site.

Mother M. Basilia Kugler, who had a reputation as a builder, was appointed president of the college in the fall of 1949. Soon the institution would be reestablished as a liberal arts college, and with great prospects of expansion. After the donation by three land owners (William A. and Loretta B. Keleher, Mildred L. and Fred White, and E.H. and Maxine Sloan) of a 60-acre site on the West Mesa (1950), ground was broken for the new $1,500,000 facility, the College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande. (The name became official in 1957.) The cornerstone was laid in 1951, and that year's graduating class donated a ten-foot, 3500-pound marble statue of St. Joseph carved in Piestrasanta, Italy, to be erected on the new campus. Sister Viatora Schuller succeeded Mother Basilia as President in 1953. In 1960, the College received accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

Five years later, the Board of Trustees embarked on a wide-scale structural reorganization and institutional planning project. The Faculty Senate was granted a constitution in 1966 and the student body in 1967. Along with new expansion plans, a new name would provide greater visibility and a geographical identity with the city of Albuquerque. The name of the institution was officially changed on January 1, 1966 to the University of Albuquerque.

From 1966 to its closing in 1986, the administration underwent frequent changes. A succession of short-term presidents headed the administration, and in its final years, the University of Albuquerque, experiencing serious organizational and financial instability, was continually immersed in controversy. In 1983 the institution was transferred to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe "in the hope that local Catholic governance and sponsorship would restore and enhance the Mission which the Sisters of St. Francis had maintained for 63 years." But after the Summer Session of 1986, the University of Albuquerque closed its doors, thus ending its 66-year history.

The College of St. Joseph/University of Albuquerque was noted for its programs tailored to meet the educational needs of the community. Among these were the Adult Degree Program, the Nursing and Law Enforcement programs, and the University Scholars Program, as well as the Drama Department directed by Jim Morley [see also MSS BC 508]. Among the notable alumni of the University of Albuquerque is Senator Pete V. Domenici, at one time President of the Student Senate. He later graduated from the University of New Mexico.


25 boxes (25 cu. ft.), plus 2 ledgers, 1 oversize folder

Related Material

University of Albuquerque Theatre Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

All photographs have been transferred to the University of Albuquerque Photograph Collection.

Tape of U of A production, "Christopher Columbus" (conducted by George DeFoe on May 14, 1969) transferred to Kettering Collection, Fine Arts Library.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Buddecke, Martha. "How the University of Albuquerque Can Make the Grade." Albuquerque Magazine, May 1977.
  • Cordova, R. Rudy. The Golden Years: The History of the University of Albuquerque as Reflected in its Athletic Program, 1947-1969. 1981.
  • Gabriel, Sister M. "History of St. Francis Summer College: Events That Led to its Founding 1904-1923; Events During its Existence, 1923-1940." Unpublished Manuscript.
  • Meyer, Connie. "Report: the University of Albuquerque Crisis."Century Magazine, July 21, 1982.
  • "University of Albuquerque 60th/30th Anniversary." Special Supplement to The Observer, 1980.


Contact Information

  1. Center for Southwest Research
  2. Zimmerman Library
  3. University of New Mexico
  4. Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-1466
  5. Phone: 505-277-6451
  6. Fax: 505-277-0530
  7. Email:
  8. URL:

Processing Information

An April 2021 addition to the collection of seven unprocessed boxes is shelved on B3-4B.
Finding Aid of the University of Albuquerque Records, 1940-1986
Processed by CSWR staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 507 BC::University of Albuquerque Records)//EN" "nmu1mss507bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131