Belmont Abbey College

Belmont Abbey College

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Belmont Abbey College is a private
Private school
Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory...

  liberal-arts Catholic college located in Belmont, North Carolina
Belmont, North Carolina
Belmont is a small suburban city in Gaston County, North Carolina, United States, located about west of uptown Charlotte, North Carolina and east of Gastonia. The population was 8,705 at the 2000 census. Once known as Garibaldi, the city named in honor of August Belmont, a prominent New York banker...

United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 15 miles (24.1 km) west of Uptown Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte is the largest city in the U.S. state of North Carolina and the seat of Mecklenburg County. In 2010, Charlotte's population according to the US Census Bureau was 731,424, making it the 17th largest city in the United States based on population. The Charlotte metropolitan area had a 2009...

. It was founded in 1876 by the Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 monks of Belmont Abbey
Belmont Abbey, North Carolina
Mary Help of Christians Abbey, better known as Belmont Abbey, is a small community of Benedictine monks in the town of Belmont, North Carolina, outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, in the United States. Founded by Bishop Leo Haid in 1876, it is the daughter abbey to St. Vincent's Abbey in Latrobe,...

. The school is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and the Order of Saint Benedict
Order of Saint Benedict
The Order of Saint Benedict is a Roman Catholic religious order of independent monastic communities that observe the Rule of St. Benedict. Within the order, each individual community maintains its own autonomy, while the organization as a whole exists to represent their mutual interests...


Offering an undergraduate education, the college enrolls students from diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds.


Belmont Abbey College was founded in 1876 as St. Mary’s College by Benedictine monks from Saint Vincent Archabbey
Saint Vincent Archabbey
Saint Vincent Archabbey, was founded in 1846 by Father Boniface Wimmer, OSB, and is the oldest Benedictine monastery in the United States.The Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey operate and teach at Saint Vincent College and Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, located ...

 in Pennsylvania. Father Jeremiah O’Connell purchased Caldwell farm and donated the land to the Benedictines hoping the community would found a Catholic educational institution in the Carolinas. On April 21, 1876, Father Herman Wolfe from St. Vincent’s arrived with two students to take possession of the property and begin classes. In 1878, the college held its first commencement exercises. Katharine Drexel
Katharine Drexel
Saint Katharine Drexel, S.B.S., was an American Religious Sister, heiress, philanthropist and educator, later canonized as a Roman Catholic saint.-Life and religious work:...

, a benefactor of the monastery and college, visited Belmont Abbey in 1904. The present name of the college was adopted in 1913.
In 1967 John Oetgen, college president and Benedictine priest, conferred an honorary degree on the Protestant evangelist Billy Graham
Billy Graham
William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. is an American evangelical Christian evangelist. As of April 25, 2010, when he met with Barack Obama, Graham has spent personal time with twelve United States Presidents dating back to Harry S. Truman, and is number seven on Gallup's list of admired people for...

, marking what was at the time seen as a bold ecumenical gesture. Originally a college for young men, Belmont Abbey became a coeducational institution in 1972. In 1987, Sacred Heart College for women merged with the Abbey and its campus began to host a variety of Abbey classes and programs.


The campus can be perceived as divided in half by Tex's Creek, a drainage system stretching widthwise from one side of the campus to the other. Maurus Hall is centrally located on campus and houses a student lounge, grill, and the Holy Grounds coffee shop. Across from Maurus Hall is the Haid, which serves as a student and community theater. The Haid was originally built as a gymnasium. The Abbey Players now perform there. Along Abbey Lane, towards the far end of the campus, are the Vincent Abbot Taylor Library and the William Gaston Science Hall. Administrative offices are located in Robert Stowe Hall, with classrooms on the second and third floors. St. Leo’s Hall, built in the American Benedictine style, houses the Campus Book Store and Catholic Shop on the first floor. Professorial offices are located in St. Leo’s hall and Grace Auditorium is located on the third floor.

The quad
Quadrangle (architecture)
In architecture, a quadrangle is a space or courtyard, usually rectangular in plan, the sides of which are entirely or mainly occupied by parts of a large building. The word is probably most closely associated with college or university campus architecture, but quadrangles may be found in other...

 is located between the Poellath and O’Connell residence halls, both constructed in the early 1960s. Raphael Arthur Hall, constructed in 1967, offers students individual rooms and sits on the hill above Poellath, near Campus Police. The St. Joseph's Eucharistic Adoration chapel, dedicated in 2008, is across from Campus Police. Wheeler Athletic Center, completed in 1970, is located behind Poellath Hall. At the back of the campus are the four Cuthbert Allen Apartment buildings, built in 1989. The Student Commons, located in front of the athletic fields, includes the cafeteria and Student Life offices. The Lourdes Grotto, an official pilgrimage shrine, is situated behind O’Connell Hall.

The Abbey’s mailroom is located across the walkway and garden left of the Basilica.

Mary Help of Christians Abbey Basilica

The Abbey Church, the most prominent building on the college’s campus, was completed in 1894 under the supervision of Abbot Leo Haid. Drexel made significant donations to the completion of the structure, which served as North Carolina’s first and only cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 prior to the erection of the Diocese of Raleigh in 1924. The church is constructed in the gothic-revival style
Gothic Revival architecture
The Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the 1740s in England...

 out of brick and granite, built in the shape of a Latin cross
Cruciform means having the shape of a cross or Christian cross.- Cruciform architectural plan :This is a common description of Christian churches. In Early Christian, Byzantine and other Eastern Orthodox forms of church architecture this is more likely to mean a tetraconch plan, a Greek cross,...

. The towers of the church, named Ora (the taller) and Labora (the smaller), can be seen from most of the college campus. The taller of the two towers holds bells which ring to signal the celebration of the Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 and the Liturgy of the Hours
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...

. The monastic community continues to hold daily services which are open to the student body and the public. Following the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

, the interior of the Abbey Church was renovated in a modernist
Mid-century modern
Mid-Century modern is an architectural, interior and product design form that generally describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture, and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965...

 style in order to facilitate the liturgical reforms of the era. In 1975, Belmont Abbey lost its territorial status and cathedral rank to the newly created Diocese of Charlotte. In 1998 Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 named the Abbey Church a minor basilica
Minor basilica
Minor basilica is a title given to some Roman Catholic churches. By canon law no Catholic church can be honoured with the title of basilica unless by apostolic grant or from immemorial custom....

 in recognition of the historic and aesthetic significance of the structure.

Sacred Heart Campus

The Sisters of Mercy of Belmont reside at Sacred Heart Campus, in downtown Belmont. In the early 1900s the sisters began a finishing school for girls that eventually became Sacred Heart College. Sacred Heart College closed in 1987 and the campus is now owned by Belmont Abbey; classes are offered at Sacred Heart for both traditional and adult degree students. Belmont Abbey continues to offer alumnae services to graduates from Sacred Heart College.


Plans were proposed by the President of the college in 2008 to construct a new residence hall on campus in order to facilitate increased enrollment.


The Abbey is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is one of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation...

 and approved by the American Medical Association
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association , founded in 1847 and incorporated in 1897, is the largest association of medical doctors and medical students in the United States.-Scope and operations:...

. More than 80 percent of the faculty at Belmont Abbey hold doctoral degrees in their subjects. After completing a core curriculum, students declare a major and concentrate within their chosen areas of study.

The college's First Year Symposium, required for incoming freshmen, seeks to acclimate new students to college life. Taught by professors from various fields, this course explains the theories of a liberal education
Liberal education
A Liberal education is a system or course of education suitable for the cultivation of a free human being. It is based on the medieval concept of the liberal arts or, more commonly now, the liberalism of the Age of Enlightenment...

 and introduces students to the Rule of St. Benedict and the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Rankings and reputation

In 2006 the Abbey was ranked as one of the best colleges in the Southeast by U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is an American news magazine published from Washington, D.C. Along with Time and Newsweek it was for many years a leading news weekly, focusing more than its counterparts on political, economic, health and education stories...

and The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review is an American-based standardized test preparation and admissions consulting company. The Princeton Review operates in 41 states and 22 countries across the globe. It offers test preparation for standardized aptitude tests such as the SAT and advice regarding college...

. The Abbey was likewise ranked first in North Carolina – and second in the Southeast – for class size by the U.S. News & World Report.

Scholarship opportunities

Over 90% of students attending Belmont Abbey College receive some form of financial aid. Students admitted to the Honors Fellowship receive a scholarship of up to $20,000 – inclusive of all other financial aid. The Felix Hintemeyer Catholic Leadership Scholarship is awarded to those incoming students who apply and are dedicated to the practice of the Catholic faith and service to the college community. The Benedictine Scholarship (with a value of up to $12,000 and renewable for four years) in addition various awards and grants are automatically given to students who are eligible.


The Belmont Abbey Crusaders participate in the NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

's Division II program. The Crusaders are members of Conference Carolinas
Conference Carolinas
Conference Carolinas, formerly known as the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference , is an intercollegiate athletic conference affiliated with the NCAA’s Division II. Conference Carolinas reached its modern incarnation in 1994. Member institutions are located in the southeastern United States in...

. Men's and women's lacrosse
Lacrosse is a team sport of Native American origin played using a small rubber ball and a long-handled stick called a crosse or lacrosse stick, mainly played in the United States and Canada. It is a contact sport which requires padding. The head of the lacrosse stick is strung with loose mesh...

, women's golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

. Men's and women's tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 and men's and women's track and field
Track and field
Track and field is a sport comprising various competitive athletic contests based around the activities of running, jumping and throwing. The name of the sport derives from the venue for the competitions: a stadium which features an oval running track surrounding a grassy area...

 have been added for the 2009 season. Al McGuire
Al McGuire
Al McGuire was the head coach of the Marquette University men's basketball team from 1964 to 1977. He compiled impressive numbers throughout his coaching career, resulting in his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, and was also well known for his colorful personality.-Early life:He...

 coached Basketball for the Crusaders from 1957 to 1964. During his tenure the team had 5 post-season tournament appearances.

Student life

Organizations and Greek Life

The Abbey has over 40 student organizations, an active Student Government Association, and many Greek organizations belonging to the college's Greek Council. Phi Kappa Theta
Phi Kappa Theta
Phi Kappa Theta is a national social fraternity with over 50 chapters and colonies at universities across the United States. "Phi Kaps", as they are commonly referred to colloquially, are known for diversity among their brothers and a dedication to service.-History:Phi Kappa Theta was established...

, Sigma Alpha, and Kappa Sigma
Kappa Sigma
Kappa Sigma , commonly nicknamed Kappa Sig, is an international fraternity with currently 282 active chapters and colonies in North America. Kappa Sigma has initiated more than 240,000 men on college campuses throughout the United States and Canada. Today, the Fraternity has over 175,000 living...

 are active fraternities on campus, while active sororities are: Tau Kappa Delta, Epsilon Sigma Alpha
Epsilon Sigma Alpha
Epsilon Sigma Alpha International is a collegiate and service organization for women and men ages 18 and older. The organization states that its purpose "is to inspire leadership and service by bringing good people together to pursue programs and projects that make a positive difference locally,...

, Alpha Sigma Pi, and Delta Psi Theta.


The campus cafeteria is at The Student Commons. Maurus Hall contains a grill and Holy Grounds coffee shop.


Incoming freshmen are required to live in either Poellath or O’Connell; two-story single-sex residence halls. Raphael Arthur Hall provides residents the choice to live in individual rooms. In addition to the three residence halls on campus, upperclassmen are eligible to live in either one of the four on campus Cuthbert Allen apartment buildings or the Cloisters, off-campus apartments in nearby Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mount Holly is a small suburban city in northeastern Gaston County, North Carolina, United States. The city is situated on the western bank of the Catawba River in the Southern Piedmont area of North Carolina, north of Interstate 85, south of North Carolina State Highway 16, and west of Charlotte....


Notable alumni

  • Patrick McHenry - U.S. Representative from North Carolina
    North Carolina
    North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

  • Winder R. Harris
    Winder R. Harris
    Winder Russell Harris was a U.S. Representative from Virginia.Born in Wake County , North Carolina, Harris attended the public schools and St...

     - U.S. Representative from Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

  • Robert G. Marshall
    Robert G. Marshall
    Robert G. "Bob" Marshall is a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 13th District, currently serving his 7th term. His district includes portions of Prince William and Loudoun counties.In 2008, Marshall was a candidate for the United States Senate seat being...

     - Virginia House of Delegates
    Virginia House of Delegates
    The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

  • Joseph Cryan
    Joseph Cryan
    Joseph Cryan is an American Democratic Party politician, who has served in the New Jersey General Assembly since 2002, where he represents the 20th Legislative District...

     - New Jersey General Assembly
    New Jersey General Assembly
    The New Jersey General Assembly is the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature.Since the election of 1967 , the Assembly has consisted of 80 members. Two members are elected from each of New Jersey's 40 legislative districts for a term of two years, each representing districts with average...

     Majority Leader
  • David Brumbaugh
    David Brumbaugh
    This article is about Oklahoma State Representative David Brumbaugh. For the U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, see D. Emmert Brumbaugh.David Brumbaugh is an American businessman and Republican politician from Oklahoma...

     - Oklahoma House of Representatives
    Oklahoma House of Representatives
    The Oklahoma House of Representatives is the lower house of the Oklahoma Legislature, the legislative body of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Its members are responsible for introducing and voting on bills and resolutions, providing legislative oversight for state agencies, and helping to craft the...

  • Tony Suarez
    Tony Suarez
    Antonio Jose "Tony" Suarez was a Cuban-American soccer forward. He played professionally in the American Soccer League and Major Indoor Soccer League and was the 1981 American Soccer League Rookie of the Year.-Youth:...

     - Professional Soccer player for Carolina Lightnin'
    Carolina Lightnin'
    The Carolina Lightnin was an American soccer club based in Charlotte, North Carolina that was a member of the American Soccer League. The Lightnin' played home matches at American Legion Memorial Stadium. Attendance at home games averaged 6,000 spectators...

  • Franklin Lawson
    Franklin Lawson
    Franklin Lawson is a retired American soccer player.Lawson graduated from Cedar Ridge High School. He then attended Belmont Abbey College where he graduated in 1977. He turned professional in 1981 with the Nashville Diamonds of the American Soccer League. He played for the Pennsylvania Stoners...

     - Retired Professional Soccer player & soccer coach for Georgia Perimeter College
    Georgia Perimeter College
    Georgia Perimeter College is a two-year associate degree-granting unit of the University System of Georgia. In May 2011, the state Board of Regents approved two bachelor's programs: a Bachelor of Arts in Sign Language Interpreting and a Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics...

  • Joseph Lennox Federal
    Joseph Lennox Federal
    Joseph Lennox Federal was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Salt Lake City from 1960 to 1980....

     - Prelate of the Roman Catholic Church
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

     who served as Bishop of Salt Lake City
    Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City
    The Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, officially in Latin Dioecesis Civitatis Lacus Salsi, is a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It comprises the entire state of Utah. Also known as the Utah Catholic Church or the See of Salt Lake City, its mother church is the...

     from 1960 to 1980.
  • Nikki Hornsby
    Nikki Hornsby
    Nikki Hornsby is an American pop, Americana, country and blues singer-songwriter and guitarist.-Teenage years:...

     - Grammy voting singer songwriter guitarist recording artist & CEO of CJP-NHRecords, Inc.
  • Hal Haid
    Hal Haid
    Harold Augustine "Hal" Haid was a former professional baseball player. He was a right-handed pitcher over parts of six seasons with the St. Louis Browns, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Braves and Chicago White Sox...

     - MLB Baseball Player
  • Alex Pledger
    Alex Pledger
    Alex Pledger is a New Zealand professional basketball player. He is a 7 ft 0 in tall, 249 pound center...

     - Professional Basketball player for New Zealand Breakers
    New Zealand Breakers
    The New Zealand Breakers are a professional basketball team competing in the Australasian National Basketball League. The Breakers joined the NBL for the 2003/04 season as one of two expansion clubs. The club is based in the city of Auckland, New Zealand and play their home games at the North...

  • Patti Wheeler
    Patti Wheeler
    Patti Wheeler, is the president and owner of Wheeler Television, Inc., a television production company specializing in motorsports for national broadcast and cable networks. Wheeler is an Executive Member of Cannon School Trustee board and a member of the board of the Lake Norman YMCA.-Early...

     - President and Owner of Wheeler Television Inc.
  • Vincent Stanislaus Waters
    Vincent Stanislaus Waters
    Vincent Stanislaus Waters was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Raleigh from 1945 until his death in 1974.-Biography:...

     - Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh
    Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh
    The Diocese of Raleigh is a Roman Catholic diocese that covers the eastern half of the U.S. state of North Carolina. The bishop is seated at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh, North Carolina.- Establishment :...

Faculty health care coverage controversy

In 2007 the college’s administration removed healthcare coverage for “abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, contraception
Contraception is the prevention of the fusion of gametes during or after sexual activity. The term contraception is a contraction of contra, which means against, and the word conception, meaning fertilization...

, and voluntary sterilization” after discovering that these were covered by the college’s healthcare policy. Eight faculty members responded by filing complaints to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an independent federal law enforcement agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, perceived intelligence,...

, and the National Women's Law Center
National Women's Law Center
The National Women's Law Center is a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization founded in 1972. Through litigation and policy initiatives, the Center strives to improve the lives of women and their families in the areas of health, employment, family economic security, and education...

. The latter threatened a lawsuit on behalf of the eight faculty members.

The college’s administration have received statements of support from Catholic news sources and other organizations, and the administration has stated that they have no intention of reinstating those portions of the healthcare plan that are contrary to the Catholic identity of the college.

After the student newspaper, The Crusader, published an article in May 2008 pointing out that the Abbey profits from the sale of contraceptives at two stores on its land, the Abbot responded by stating that: “"[They] are preponderantly good operations, i.e. 99 percent or more of their business is not problematic, and the employment generation and economic stimulation they provide for the community of Belmont are worth tolerating a small amount of evil. The Abbey is not willing to lease to them because they sell contraceptives, but despite it."

Lawsuit against the Obama Administration over its contraceptive health care coverage mandate

According to a November 11, 2011 online news story by Patricia L. Guilfoyle of Catholic News Service
Catholic News Service
Catholic News Service is an American news agency covering the Roman Catholic Church. CNS was established in 1920 and is a leading source of news for Catholic print and broadcast media throughout the world....

,: "Belmont Abbey College is suing the federal government over a new regulation that requires employer health insurance plans to provide free coverage of contraceptives and sterilization, even if it may be contrary to their religious beliefs."

External links