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University of Dubuque

The University of Dubuque is a Presbyterian university located in Dubuque, in the U.S. state of Iowa, with a general attendance of approximately 1,600 students. The school offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


2000 University Ave
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Total Undergrad enrollment
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Additional Information

College Type
Religious Affiliation
Presbyterian Church
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Mission Statement
White Royal Blue
Iowa Intercollegiate

College History


The University of Dubuque has had a long history in Dubuque since its founding in 1852. It has gone through many changes over the years and has recently experienced a controversial, but prosperous rebirth. Early years The institution currently known as the University of Dubuque was founded by the Rev. Adrian Van Vliet, who was pastor of the German Presbyterian Church, now known as the First Presbyterian Church of Dubuque, in 1852 to train ministers to serve the influx of immigrants to the upper midwest. Van Vliet believed the large number of immigrants � particularly German farmers and miners � would need ministers of the gospel for the communities they were establishing. He began by training two young men, conducting classes in his home. Although Van Vliet was Dutch, until 1896 all classes were conducted in German. Initially the school was Van Vliet's independent endeavor. In 1864 the Presbytery of Dubuque assumed control of the institution, and it became known as The German Theological School of The North West. In 1870 the Presbyterian Church of the United States took control of the school. In 1871, following the death of Van Vliet, Jacob Conzett was selected to lead the school. In 1872 the school moved to a brick building on the north side of 17th street, where it would remain for the next 35 years. In 1901 Cornelius Martin Steffens came on board as financial secretary. He proved to be an outstanding fund raiser. He also helped the school expand its curriculum. A liberal arts college and academy were added to the school, and the first college degrees were granted in 1906. It was Steffens's idea to move the school to larger quarters. Property on the western edge of the city was acquired in 1905 for that purpose. Steffens served as school president from 1908 to 1924. The school moved to its present location on University Avenue in 1907. The first buildings constructed at this new location were the Administration Building (1907, later renamed Steffens Hall), Severance Hall (1911), the University Bookstore (1912), McCormick Gymnasium (1915), Peters Commons (1916), and Van Vliet Hall (1926). All except Steffens Hall are still standing. Steffens Hall was demolished in 1980 and replaced with Blades Hall, but the some of its archways were preserved and can be seen today. In 1911 the college became coeducational. In 1916 the school, then known as the Dubuque German College and Seminary, dropped the word "German" from its name, due in part to anti-German sentiment inflamed by the First World War, and became known as Dubuque College. However, present-day Loras College, located just down the street, also wanted to call itself Dubuque College. In the end, neither school kept that name. The Roman Catholic school took the name of Mathias Loras, first archbishop of Dubuque, while the Presbyterian school became the University of Dubuque.

College Specialty


The University of Dubuque is a small, private university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) offering undergraduate, graduate, and theological seminary programs. The University is comprised of individuals from the region, the nation, and the world. As a community, the University practicesits Christian faith by educating students andpursuing excellence in scholarship. Therefore,the University of Dubuque is committed



Notable graduates of the University of Dubuque include Edward Solomon "Sol" Butler, a track star who set national and world records, competed in the 1920s Olympics and was one of the first black players in the National Football League as well as an early actor in Hollywood films. 1926 graduate of the University, Nemesio Rodriguez, an exchange student from Lima, Peru, later went on to become the prime minister of education for the country of Peru (he also married classmate of '26, Florence Parker), actor Tony Danza, a star of the TV sitcoms Taxi and Who's the Boss?; and novelist Eckhard Gerdes, author of ten published novels, including My Landlady the Lobotomist and Hugh Moore. George O'Leary, current football coach at the University of Central Florida played football at the university in the 1960s but did not graduate. O'Leary gained notoriety when he was hired then dropped as Notre Dame head coach when it was discovered that he fabricated his resume. Jim Leavitt, former head coach of the University of South Florida from 1997-2009 and currently the linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers, was an assistant football coach at the University of Dubuque in the early eighties.