graduate business graduation

History and Mission

The history of Manhattanville is, in many ways, rooted in social and educational change. 

Beginning as a women’s boarding school founded in 1841 by the Society of the Sacred Heart in New York City, we evolved into a women’s Catholic college. We later developed into a non-denominational, co-ed institution.

A belief in education as a pathway to progress, equality, and transformation has remained the same for nearly two hundred years. Our first graduates in 1918 represented a commitment to women’s education that later expanded to include and uplift a diverse student body. Manhattanville University students were active participants in many social justice movements of our time, including the Civil Rights Movement. They continue to change the world through independent thinking, creativity, and a well-rounded liberal arts education. 

Manhattanville Timeline

History of Our University

Our Mission

To educate ethical and socially responsible leaders in a global community.”


At Manhattanville, it is our declared mission to show deep commitment to:

Ensuring the intellectual, ethical, and social development of each student with a community of engaged scholars and teachers;

Encouraging each student to develop as an independent and creative thinker in pursuing career and personal goals; and

Providing a diverse, inclusive, and nurturing environment which develops in each student a commitment to service and leadership within a global community.

Roots in Activism

First Graduates from the College of the Sacred Heart

Education for Women

In 1918, Madeleine Smith and Claire Brassil became the first graduates of what would later become Manhattanville College. As a women’s college, we empowered generations of female students to embrace their roles as leaders and actively shape a more just world. In 1969, we expanded to include male students.

Manhattanville University of the Sacred Heart 1937

Manhattanville Resolutions

A landmark moment for Manhattanville occurred in 1933 when students came together to write The Manhattanville Resolutions. This document advocated for racial integration, equal access, and active participation in the fight against discrimination. The eight resolutions galvanized other Catholic colleges to push for desegregation.

Black students looking out window of Brownson Hall

Brownson Takeover

The sixties represented a time of immense change for Manhattanville, which became a non-denominational college against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement. In 1969, eighteen students occupied Brownson Hall to demand increased representation and greater scholarship opportunities for minority students. Their action pushed the administration to address racial justice issues on campus. 


Notable Alumni Over the Years

For centuries, students have used our academic excellence and proximity to New York as the launching pad for their professional dreams. As a result, we were named the #1 private, non-profit college in New York for Social Mobility by the U.S. News and World Report, with alums reaching the upper echelons of fields like government, advocacy, business, media, and the arts. 

Since 1900, the Manhattanville Alumni Association has helped Valiants stay connected to our community.  Some of our most notable alumns include:

Dalmazio Santini: Innovative Italian orchestral composer

Eleanor Byrne: Former Manhattanville University president who led faculty and students to participate in the March on Washington

Jamaal Bowman: United States Congressman in the 16th district of New York

Maria Elena Lagomasino: Former director of The Coca-Cola Company, former CEO of JP Morgan Private Bank

Mary T. Clark: Scholar in philosophical history and civil rights advocate

Mary Hamilton: Freedom Rider and field secretary of the Congress of Racial Equality

Mindy Grossman: CEO of the Home Shopping Network (HSN)

Patricia Nell Warren: Novelist and LGBT rights activist

Sila Calderón: Former Governor of Puerto Rico

Ethel Kennedy: Human Rights Advocate

Where We Are Today

president move in

Manhattanville presidents have included prominent civil rights activists, forward-thinking educators, and renowned academics. A strong commitment to equal access and opportunity in education defines our University leadership. Learn more about how Dr. Frank D. Sánchez, our fifteenth president, continues that tradition. 


Diversity, equity, and inclusion have always occupied a central space in our community. 

Students, faculty, and leadership have participated in demonstrations and advocated for legislation addressing racial equality, poverty, substance abuse, and apartheid in South Africa. Today, we continue to push for a better future as a designated Hispanic Serving Institution through the Clark Center for Religion and Social Justice and other DEI initiatives.


How many countries are represented in the Manhattanville student body? What are the most popular programs? Do most students live on or off campus? Learn the facts and figures of our college.


Get to Know Us More

Discover what living the Valiant life is all about and explore our 125+ arts, sciences, fine arts, education, nursing, and health sciences programs. Reach out to find out more about our transformative educational experience. 

Become a Part of Our History

We are proud of our history as a university where students can find their voice, empower their peers, and lead actions that push for a more just and equal society. To become a part of it, learn more about our admissions process and see what sets us apart with a campus visit