About Avila University

Founded on the principles instilled by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Avila University has continued their tradition in its mission and through its values.
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Inspiration Meets Tradition

Since its beginning as a two-year college for women in 1916, Avila University has prioritized serving first-generation and other under-served populations in the Catholic intellectual traditions. Founded and inspired by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ), Avila is a vibrant, four-year university providing liberal arts, professional, undergraduate, and graduate education. A values-based community of learning, social justice, and the charism of the CSJ are at the foundation of the institution. Today, Avila prepares students for responsible, lifelong contributions to the global community through its rigorous academic programs both on campus and online.

Avila’s mission

Avila University, a Catholic university founded and inspired by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, provides undergraduate and graduate education in the liberal arts and professional studies, preparing lifelong learners who make meaningful contributions to the global community.

Avila’s core values

  • The worth, dignity and potential of each human being
  • Excellence in teaching and learning
  • Service with the dear neighbor
  • Diversity and its expression
  • The development of the whole person
  • Right relationships with God, self, others and creation

Avila’s history

The road to today’s modern institution of higher learning began in 1836, when the first Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in Missouri from the order’s home in the Lyons region of France. In 1866, Mother Francis Joseph Ivory came to Kansas City to staff a small school that incorporated as St. Teresa’s Academy (in honor of St. Teresa of Avila) shortly after her arrival. For more than 25 years, St. Teresa’s was the only Catholic school providing more than an elementary education for girls in Kansas City.

St. Teresa’s College, a two-year college for women, was launched separately in 1916. The school’s faculty of 15 sisters initially outnumbered the students. Five years later, in 1921, the University of Missouri accredited St. Teresa College. In 1930, the school became affiliated with St. Joseph Hospital’s School of Nursing, a professional emphasis that continues today at Avila.

In 1940, while celebrating the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Kansas City, the school became a four-year institution named College of St. Teresa. Six years later, it received accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

With enrollment increasing, the modern era of Avila began in 1963 when construction began on a much larger new campus in South Kansas City. With the new location came a new name, Avila College.

In 1965, Avila welcomed its first on-campus residents with the completion of Carondelet Hall. Another major milestone occurred in 1969, when the university became fully coeducational. The college’s official nickname was changed to the Eagles in 1990.

The college became Avila University in 2002. Today, Avila continues to grow as a Catholic university and expand as it continues to offer faith and values-based academic excellence in the spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

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