Welcome to 

St. Mary's College of Maryland

We are so excited that you are here! Be sure to check out our campus resources and community resources!

Founded on the site of Maryland’s first capital, the College stands as a living legacy to the ideals of freedom and inclusiveness. Our beautiful residential campus on the banks of the St. Mary’s River inspires our work, our play and our commitment to the environment. SMCM employs about 400 employees (~ 80 non-exempt staff, 184 administrative staff and 126 faculty members). No matter the position on campus, our mission is to serve and support the students. Take pride in your work, supporting the students and the wider campus community.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we are learning, working and gathering today is the ancestral home of the Yacocomico and Piscataway Peoples. We also acknowledge that St. Mary’s City was partly built and sustained by enslaved people of African descent. Through this acknowledgment, we recognize these communities and all those who have been displaced and enslaved through colonization.

Given the unique importance of the land on which we sit and given the unique educational mission of St. Mary’s College of Maryland as The National Public Honors College, we pledge to continue to unearth and understand these historic realities so that they inform all of our work. We also pledge to work tirelessly in making our institution more accessible, inclusive and equitable, especially for those populations most affected by societal inequities. We do this with the understanding that by supporting and learning from all of our diverse communities, we build a more sustainable future for all.


St. Mary’s College of Maryland is Maryland’s honors college, a selective, public liberal arts college-a vibrant community of scholars and learners. We foster a rigorous and innovative curriculum; experiential learning; scholarship and creativity; close mentoring relationships; and a community dedicated to honesty, civility, and integrity. We are committed to diversity, access, and affordability. Our students, faculty and staff serve local, national, and global communities and cultivate and promote social responsibility. 


St. Mary’s College of Maryland will increasingly serve as the liberal arts college of choice for intellectually ambitious students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds, attracted by a rigorous, innovative, and distinctive curriculum that integrates theory and practice; a talented, professionally engaged, and student­ centered faculty and staff; and a strong infrastructure. Students will be part of a collaborative learning community that embraces intellectual curiosity and innovation, the power of diversity, and the College’s unique environment. Our graduates will thrive as responsible and thoughtful global citizens and leaders.

Core Values

The St. Mary's Way

SMCM is a close-knit community and we expect all faculty, staff and students to know and adhere to ‘The St. Mary’s Way’:

St. Mary's College of Maryland lies in a setting of natural beauty and historic meaning which enhances our ability to reflect on our lives in an increasingly complex, technological, and interdependent world. As a member of St. Mary's College of Maryland, I accept the St. Mary's Way and agree to join in working with others to develop this College as a community:

Welcome to St. Mary’s.

By choosing to join this community, I accept the responsibility of helping to build on its past heritage, living its ideals, and contributing to its future.

History of the College

The land now occupied by the campus of St. Mary’s College has played an important role in the evolution of the community and in the history of Maryland. The campus, lying on a broad bend of the St. Mary’s River, was the home of the Yaocomaco people during the 1600s. English colonists arrived aboard the Ark and Dove in 1634, determined to establish a settlement under a charter from King Charles I, authorizing them to take dominion of the lands surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. Led by Leonard Calvert, second son of Lord Baltimore, they came ashore within sight of where the College stands today, signed a treaty of peaceful coexistence with the Yaocomaco, and named their town St. Mary’s City. Though the settlement had ceased to flourish by the end of the 17th century, it was the capital of Maryland for 61 years (until 1695) and saw the beginnings of civil rights and representative government on this continent.

From the very beginning, St. Mary’s College of Maryland embraced the ideal of making an excellent education affordable. In 1846, the first board of trustees designed tuition and living costs to be substantially lower than those at similar schools. After 1868, when the General Assembly began giving the school annual appropriations, the seminary frequently educated up to half of its students—representing every county of the state and each legislative district of Baltimore City—free of charge. Although it struggled for survival in its first two decades, the seminary enjoyed a successful half-century following the Civil War, benefiting from state funding, popular approval, and conscientious trustees, many of whom served for as long as 30 years. During the 20th century, the school expanded its campus and enriched the quality of instruction to serve the growing numbers of young women, and eventually men, who desired a fine education. Adding to the stability of St. Mary’s was the fact that it had only 11 principals/presidents between 1900 and 2013.

Twice in the 20th century—in 1924 and 1947—crises threatened to destroy the school. Each time, the people of the county and the state rallied to save their “monument school” and to improve it. In January 1924, during a freezing blizzard, fire gutted the majestic 80-year-old Main Building, despite the valiant efforts of local residents. Trustees, state officials, and hundreds of alumnae and friends quickly rebuilt the school as students lived in temporary quarters. In 1927, their efforts were rewarded when St. Mary’s became Maryland’s first junior college, affording students the unique opportunity to complete four years of high school and two years of college at the same institution.

In 1947, the Maryland Commission on Higher Education slated St. Mary’s Female Seminary-Junior College for dissolution, although it was fully accredited and had begun admitting male students. Before the governor could act, a large public outcry, prompted by tireless alumnae, not only saved the school from extinction, but created the momentum for removing the word “Female” and renaming it St. Mary’s Seminary Junior College (1949), and its eventual evolution into a four-year baccalaureate college (1967). In 1992, the Maryland legislature designated it the state’s public honors college.

Under the leadership of seven presidents—M. Adele France (1923-1948), A. May Russell (1948-1969), J. Renwick Jackson, Jr. (1969-1982), Edward T. Lewis (1983-1996), Jane Margaret O’Brien (1996-2009),  Joseph R. Urgo (2010-2013), and Tuajuanda C. Jordan (2014 – )—St. Mary’s College of Maryland has developed into the National Public Honors College. In the past decade, the College has received national acclaim for the quality of its programs, the excellence of its faculty and students, and the magnificence of its waterfront campus.

Strategic Plan