Pit Stop #48: Salve Regina University

On the heels of visiting St. Michael’s College in Vermont, I traveled south to another of NECHE’s liberal arts campuses, Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. One couldn’t ask for a more majestic setting for a college, as Salve’s 80-acre campus is literally perched on the cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean.

In fact, the world-famous 3.5-mile Cliff Walk (part of which collapsed in March 2022) provides a spectacular buffer between the campus and the ocean, as it winds its way between 64 of Newport’s finest Gilded Age mansions and the Atlantic Ocean. What a neighborhood!  

Salve just celebrated the 75th anniversary of its founding, and my meeting with the ebullient and always enthusiastic President Kelli Armstrong took place in her office in Ochre Court. Ochre is just one of the 21 historically significant buildings that are part of seven contiguous 19th-century estates which comprise the campus. In a word, the campus is extraordinary (and utterly beautiful and wildly unique … okay, that’s more than a word). 

President Armstrong is in her fourth year and came to Salve (just six months before Covid hit) from another NECHE institution, Boston College, where she had worked for fifteen years. She’s also an alumna of yet a third NECHE school, Bates College. Armstrong is the first layperson to serve as President of Salve and she shared that her close relationship with Chancellor Sister M. Theresa Antone, who previously served as Salve’s president for more than 15 years, continues to provide both guidance and inspiration. And in exciting news for NECHE, Kelli will be joining the NECHE Commission this summer!  

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1947 with the staggering gift of Ochre Court, Salve Regina continues to manifest the Order’s founding mission of spirituality, community service, mercy and justice.

Its original 58 women students have grown to a co-ed (since 1976) population of almost 2,000 students, yet as a Catholic university of distinction, the emphasis is still on producing graduates driven to create a more harmonious, just and merciful world. 

Dr. Armstrong shared the significant progress Salve has made with its guiding initiative called Strategic Compass. Three questions are posed in the plan: What do we do best? What do those strengths tell us about our values? And how can we provide what every student needs to advance in the mercy tradition: a rigorous education,  inclusive community,  adaptive resilience, and compassionate leadership? Simple and straightforward inquiries to be sure, but they feel exactly right. 

The Commission has had frequent contact with Salve as it sought approvals (all granted), for doctoral programs in Nursing, International Relations, and Humanities. These complement Salve’s extensive suite of Master’s Degree and Certificate offerings in leadership and business, health care and nursing, humanities and creative arts, counseling and psychology, and international relations and justice. 

Salve Regina University is clearly an institution on the move, with one of the most stunning campuses I’ve seen.

A powerful combination in every way!

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