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SVC History: Breaking down the bond between Bearcats and Griffins

By Irina Rusanova

In the past, Seton Hill College, now University, and Saint Vincent College, were bonded through academics and activities. Nowadays, though a program exists to allow students from either school to attend classes not available at their own college, the bond is not as strong.

Early on, the two Catholic institutes were separated by gender. Seton Hill was an all-female college while Saint Vincent was an all-male college. According to Setonian Online staff writer Bridget Malley’s article, “Brother and Sister: A journey into the joint histories of SHC (SHU) & SVC,” Seton Hill students would cheerlead for Saint Vincent’s football players back in the 50s. Other activities, such as theater events and dances, were also shared by the schools.

In the 60s and early 70s, when the institutions first began building an academic bond, students took buses that ran into Greensburg or hitchhiked until buses were scheduled to pass between the colleges a few times a day to transport students of either school to classes or activities at the other. Students were given the opportunity to transfer credits from either school to their degree.

Saint Vincent would attract more students from Seton Hill academically, as more courses were available to take and the business program at SVC was appealing. The tuition imbalance, however, was handled by both schools.

Rev. Dr. William Hisker Ph.D., a business administration professor at SVC and a 1969 graduate from the college, explained his view of the connection.

“Seton Hill has always had a well-developed arts school,” Hisker said. “Saint Vincent was always a very successful business program. Both schools had a pretty good science program.

For this reason, Saint Vincent boys interested in the fine arts would go to Seton Hill for courses in the discipline, while Seton Hill girls interested in the business sphere would go over to Saint Vincent for courses not available at their college.

The constant contact maintained between the two institutions allowed students to enjoy the company of those opposite gender. Many Saint Vincent men dated Seton Hill women, and a good amount of marriages resulted from these relationships, including the one between Hisker and his wife.

The tight bond between the schools, however, began to fade when Saint Vincent became co-educational in 1983. The SVC faculty had been vouching for a shift to a co-educational environment for a lengthy time before the change actually occurred. One issue with making such changes, for instance, was the misconception that women would have hardships with gaining leadership in a dual-gender school.

Seton Hill seemed to change immensely as the two institutions began to move apart, while Saint Vincent remained more or less consistent over the years.

“Seton Hill essentially re-invented themselves as a college and a university,” said Hisker. “I think it worked out well for them.”

Because Seton Hill began to rely less and less on its bond with Saint Vincent College, it was able to grow and attain a position of leadership it hadn’t assumed in the past. The institution eventually also presented itself as a co-educational school in 2002.

Despite the subsiding relations between the two institutions, a program continues to exist to connect them academically. The Seton Hill Cross-Registration program at Saint Vincent College allows students to take courses at SHU not available at SVC. Hadley Ware, a freshman integrated science major at SVC, is currently taking part in this opportunity.

As a student who attends dance courses at Seton Hill three times a week, he has just enough time to make the 22-minute drive to SHU between his class at SVC and the beginning of the ballet class.

“I would recommend allowing yourself a little more time if it’s a class where you need to change, like ballet, because sometimes I feel very rushed,” Ware said.

Even so, this program remains a good opportunity for students to take classes which are not available at Saint Vincent.

“[…] [Seton Hill] is a close place that you could just throw in your schedule,” Ware said. “And it is great to get off campus sometimes, too!”

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