Fontbonne University takes its name from Mother St. John Fontbonne, who, in 1808 after the French Revolution, refounded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ). More than a century and a half before, in 1650, the Sisters of St. Joseph had been founded in LePuy, France. During the French Revolution, the sisters were forced to return to their homes and the community was dispersed. Some 28 years after the refounding, six Sisters of St. Joseph came to the United States in 1836 and established American roots at Carondelet, a small community in south St. Louis, Missouri. Five years later, in 1841, they opened St. Joseph’s Academy for girls. The Sisters would eventually establish a college to provide access to higher education for women — a need in the early decades of the 20th century. Fontbonne College’s first classes were held in 1923, at Carondelet in South St. Louis, and then two years later, the school moved to its current Clayton campus. The CSJ heritage of strength and stability stems from values found in the order’s original documents and repeated in other records through the succeeding centuries. At least eight values can be identified throughout this long CSJ history: quality, respect, diversity, community, justice, service, faith, and Catholic presence. It is on the tradition of service and based on the values of the Congregation of St. Joseph, that Fontbonne University was founded. A devotion to the tradition continues to move Fontbonne forward into the future.
Fontbonne affirms its identity as a Catholic university. Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, it is founded on the beliefs that all creation reveals God, that the ministry of Jesus began a process of redemption that extends to this day, and that the Holy Spirit continues to impart grace through the daily experiences of women and men. Among the many signs of God’s grace are teaching and learning, which at Fontbonne are pursued by people sharing a variety of religious beliefs and an understanding of the importance of education.
College is about discovering who you are … and where you want to go. It’s about learning how the world works and the role you can play in making it a better place. At Fontbonne University, you’ll find an environment where you can explore and grow - a place where you can achieve your personal potential.
Fontbonne is close-knit campus community of some 3,000 students. Being part of the "Fontbonne Family" is not just a term - it’s a way of life here. Located in a tree-lined suburb in the heart of St. Louis, Fontbonne is a university that readily embraces diversity, inclusion, open communication and personal concern.
A Catholic coeducational university established in 1923 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Fontbonne has a longstanding tradition of high quality academic programs offered in a values-based environment. Fontbonne offers 34 majors, 25 minors and 16 master’s degree programs in a wide range of areas — from a nationally known deaf education major to expanding programs such as business and sports management to new majors such as advertising, applied sociology and biotechnology. These relevant, challenging programs give students the foundation to succeed in a career … and in life.