|Though its name is carved in stone on McMahon Hall, the School of Philosophy is now housed in Aquinas Hall.|
The School of Philosophy of The Catholic University of America was opened formally on Oct. 1, 1895. For many years before, the idea of the school had existed in the minds of the American Catholic hierarchy at the urging of Pope Leo XIII, who had repeatedly expressed his interest in its establishment.
Originally, the date of Oct. 2, 1894 had been set for the opening but the postponement until 1895 gave added time for more complete arrangements. A preliminary meeting of the new faculty was held Dec. 23, 1894 to discuss the division of courses into scientific departments. The original programs had two sections for undergraduates, one conducted in Latin, mainly for seminarians and a second in English.
In 1906, the School of Philosophy expanded to three branches: the School of Philosophy proper, the School of Letters, and the School of Sciences, each with its own faculty. Later merged, for a short time with the School of Arts and Sciences, it was re-established as a distinct unit in 1936 and given Pontifical approval on March 7, 1937.
The growth of the School of Philosophy has mirrored the development of the University. Today the School of Philosophy has an enrollment of 212 and has accepted over 400 doctoral dissertations.
The School of Philosophy celebrated Catholic University’s 125th anniversary by sponsoring a lecture by Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., president of Providence College of Rhode Island, titled “Saint Thomas Aquinas: Companion and Patron.” The lecture was held on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, in Aquinas Hall Auditorium.