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Macalester College
Macalester College seal
MottoNatura et Revelatio cœli gemini (Latin)
Motto in English
Nature and Revelation are twin sisters of heaven
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1874; 150 years ago (1874)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$849 million (2023)[1]
Budget$205 million (2022)[2]
PresidentSuzanne Rivera
ProvostLisa Anderson-Levy[3]
Academic staff
188 (full-time)[4]

44°56′21″N 93°10′4″W / 44.93917°N 93.16778°W / 44.93917; -93.16778
CampusUrban (residential), 53 acres (21 ha)
Colors    Blue and orange
Sporting affiliations

Macalester College (/məˈkælɪstər/ mə-KAL-iss-tər) is a private liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Founded in 1874, Macalester is exclusively an undergraduate four-year institution with an enrollment of 2,142 students in the fall of 2023.[4] The college has Scottish roots and emphasizes internationalism and multiculturalism.[5]

The college offers 39 majors, 40 minors, and 11 concentrations.[6] Students also have the option to design their own major. Macalester's sports teams compete in the NCAA Division III-level Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The college's 60-acre main campus is bordered by Summit Avenue to the north and St. Clair Avenue to the south. The 300-acre Ordway Field Station, a nature reserve and research station, is on the outskirts of the Twin Cities, along the Mississippi River.[7]


Macalester College was founded by Rev. Dr. Edward Duffield Neill in 1874 with help from the Presbyterian Church in Minnesota. Neill had served as a chaplain in the American Civil War and traveled to Minnesota Territory in 1849. He became connected politically and socially. He went on to found two local churches, was appointed the first Chancellor of the University of Minnesota, and became the state's first superintendent of public education. In leaving the University of Minnesota Board of Regents he desired to build a religious college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church that would also be open to members of other Christian churches.[8]

Charles Macalester donated the Winslow House in Minneapolis for use as the school's first building.

The college's original name was Baldwin College; it was affiliated with the Baldwin School, a Presbyterian secondary school.[9] After a large donation from Charles Macalester, a prominent businessman and philanthropist from Philadelphia, the institution was renamed Macalester College. Macalester donated a hotel, the Winslow House, as the first permanent classroom building. With additional funding from the Presbyterian Church and its trustees, Macalester College opened for courses in 1885 with five teachers, six freshmen, and 52 preparatory students.[8]

James Wallace joined the faculty in 1887 and later became president. He helped stabilize the college's finances and advance the institution.[8] During his tenure, Macalester created a focus on a liberal arts curriculum. In 1897, Nellie A. Hope was the first woman appointed to the institution's newly organized music department.[10][11]

Weyerhaeuser Hall administration building

In 2008 Macalester publicly launched a $150 million campaign. In 2009, construction was completed on Markim Hall, a new home for the Institute for Global Citizenship. Plans called for the building to qualify for Platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, a building rating system devised by the U.S. Green Building Council that evaluates structures' sustainability and environmental impact. In 2012, Macalester opened its renovated and expanded Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center.[8]

In 2020, Suzanne Rivera became the college's 17th president; she is the first woman and first Hispanic person to serve in the role.[12]



Academic rankings
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[13]27
Washington Monthly[14]16
THE / WSJ[16]89

In 2023, U.S. News & World Report ranked Macalester the 27th-best liberal arts college in the U.S., 6th for "Best Undergraduate Teaching", 28th for "Study Abroad", and 26th for "Best Value" liberal arts college.[17]

In 2019, Forbes rated it 86th out of 650 colleges, universities and service academies in the U.S., and 38th among liberal arts colleges.[18]

In 2022, Washington Monthly ranked Macalester 16th among 215 liberal arts colleges in the U.S. based on its contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.[19]

Macalester was named one of the Hidden Ivies based on academics, admissions process, financial aid, and student experience.[20] Its most popular majors, based on 2021 graduates, were:[21]

Biology/Biological Sciences (52)
Econometrics & Qualitative Economics (52)
Computer & Information Sciences (34)
Research & Experimental Psychology (32)
Political Science & Government (31)


Macalester is considered "most selective" by the U.S. News & World Report rankings.[22] For the Class of 2027, Macalester received 8,434 applications and accepted 28% of applicants.[23]


Old Main Building at Macalester College in fall

Macalester has 188 full-time faculty, 94% of whom have a doctorate or the highest degree in their field.[4] Twenty-nine percent of faculty are international or U.S. citizens of color.[4] The student-faculty ratio is 10:1 and the average class size 17.[4]

Academic program

Macalester offers over 800 courses each academic year, providing pathways to 39 majors, 40 minors, and 11 concentrations.[6] Students may also design their own interdisciplinary majors.[24] Courses are available in the physical sciences, humanities, mathematics and computer sciences, arts, social sciences, foreign languages, classics, several interdisciplinary fields, and pre-professional programs.[25] Pre-professional programs includes pre-law, pre-medical, a cooperative architecture program, and a cooperative engineering program.[26] The most popular majors (in order) are economics, mathematics, biology, psychology, and political science.[4]

The academic calendar at Macalester is divided into a 14-week fall semester (September to December) and a 14-week spring semester (January to May).[24] All courses are offered for semester credit. Most courses are offered for four semester credits, but the amount of credit may vary.[24]

During January, Macalester students may earn up to two semester credits in independent projects, internships, or Macalester-sponsored off-campus courses.[24] They may also earn up to eight semester credits in independent study during the summer through independent projects or internships.[24]

Study abroad and off-campus

About 60% of Macalester students study abroad before graduation.[27] Eleven departments require off-campus study for completion of a major.[28]

Academic consortia memberships

Humanities Building[29]

Macalester is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC), a consortium of five liberal arts colleges in Saint Paul and Minneapolis formed to develop cooperative programs and offer cross-registration to their students. The other members are the University of St. Thomas, Augsburg University, Hamline University, and St. Catherine University. In addition to over 800 courses available on campus, Macalester students have access to all courses offered through the consortium without paying additional tuition. ACTC provides free busing among the campuses.

Macalester also has an agreement with the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) whereby students may take one course per term there, provided that Macalester approves the course.[30]

Tuition and financial aid

Two out of three Macalester students qualify for need-based financial aid. Macalester also provides merit-based scholarships to around half of all students (most also receive need-based aid). Its comprehensive tuition, room, and board fee for the 2021–22 academic year was $74,060.[31]

Student life

Student body

Macalester maintains a high international enrollment for its institutional type as a percentage of its student body.[32] As of fall 2023, international students constituted approximately 12% of the student body.[4] Its 2,142 students come from 49 U.S. states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the Mariana Islands and 102 countries; 31% of the U.S. student body are students of color.[4] Macalester's student body is 40% male and 60% female.[33]

Elizabeth Warren speaking at Shaw Field during her 2020 presidential campaign

Civic engagement

Macalester is one of 360 institutions that have been awarded the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for excellence in civic engagement. The college encourages student dialogue by bringing in speakers, hosting an International Roundtable to bring distinguished international scholars to discuss emerging global issues, and hosting collective meetings such as Women of Color.[34]

Macalester links academic learning to community involvement. In 2011–12, 16 departments offered 59 courses with civic engagement components.[35] Each year approximately 200 students complete internships, 65% of which are in the nonprofit sector, schools, government, or the arts.[34] Macalester also allows students to earn their work-study financial aid award while working at a local nonprofit or elementary school.[34]

Almost all students (96%) volunteer in the Twin Cities while at Macalester.[4] Many student organizations encourage active civic engagement, including MPIRG, Maction, Queer Union (QU), Macalester Habitat for Humanity.[34]

Macalester is the primary financial contributor and sponsor of the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, which was founded in 1967 and has its main facilities in the Lampert Building. MITY provides two different gifted education programs during the summer and one on weekends during the academic year.[36] Macalester also participates in Project Pericles, a commitment to further encourage civic engagement at the college.[34] In 2000, Macalester signed the Talloires Declaration, making a commitment to environmental sustainability, as well as a sweatshop pledge, making a commitment to fair-labor practices in the purchase of college apparel.[34]

LGBTQ community

The Campus Pride Index awarded Macalester a full five out of five stars for LGBTQ-friendly campuses.[37] In 2007, The Princeton Review named Macalester the most gay-friendly college in the nation.[38] Macalester has started an initiative to ensure access to single-stall and all-gender bathrooms across campus.[39]

Macalester has a student-powered Gender and Sexuality Resource Center that aims to build a culture of resistance against all forms of oppression.[40] It also has active LGBTQ student organizations and groups, including Queer Union, the Trans Identity Collective, Allies Project Training, and the Macalester Out and Proud Community.[40]


Macalester's athletic teams are nicknamed the Scots. Macalester is a member of the NCAA Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) in all sports. The Scots' football team set an NCAA Division III record by losing 50 straight games from 1974 to 1980. Earlham College broke that record in 2018, losing 51 straight games.[41] In 1977, Macalester set a Division III record by allowing 59.1 points per game. The losing streak ended in dramatic fashion: Kicker Bob Kaye put a 23-yarder through the uprights with 11 seconds remaining in a September 1980 game as the Scots beat Mount Senario College.[42] The Scots left the MIAC after the 2001 season and competed as independents until 2014, when they joined the Midwest Conference. Under head coach Tony Jennison, Macalester won the Midwest Conference title, the Scots' first conference football title since 1947.[43] Macalester also won nine games in 2014, the most ever in a Scots season in their 121 years of intercollegiate football.[44]

The Leonard Center athletic and wellness complex

Both men's and women's soccer teams remain competitive, appearing in multiple NCAA playoffs since 1995. The women's team won the NCAA championship in 1998.[45] The 2010 men's team won the MIAC regular-season championship and both the men and women's teams received at-large bids for the 2010 NCAA Division III tournament. Both teams are well-supported by students, parents and alumni. Mental Floss cited one of Macalester sports fans' most (in)famous cheers–"Drink blood, smoke crack, worship Satan, go Mac!"–as one of "7 Memorable Sports Chants".[46]

Macalester Athletics compete in the Leonard Center, which opened in August 2008. The $45 million facility encompasses 175,000 square feet and includes a 200-meter track, a natatorium, a fitness center, several multipurpose rooms, and a health and wellness center. Materials from the former facility were disposed of in environmentally friendly ways, with some incorporated into the new structure.[47]

Every year in early May, Macalester hosts the Al Storm Games, a competition between various athletes at Macalester consisting of various events such as a Hunger Games simulation.[48]


Old Main, Macalester College
Old Main
Location1600 Grand Ave.
Saint Paul, Minnesota
ArchitectWilliam H. Willcox
Architectural styleRomanesque Revival
NRHP reference No.77000765
Added to NRHPAugust 16, 1977


In the Sustainable Endowments Institute's 2011 College Sustainability Report Card, Macalester received an overall grade of A−, earning it recognition as an "Overall Campus Sustainability Leader".[49] In 2011, The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) awarded Macalester a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements.[50]

Many student organizations focus on sustainability, including Macalester Conservation and Renewable Energy Society (MacCARES), Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), Mac Bike, Macalester Urban Land and Community Health (MULCH), and Outing Club.[51]

In April 2003, Macalester installed a 10 kW Urban Wind Turbine on campus thanks to that year's senior class gift donating the installation cost and Xcel Energy donating the tower and turbine.[52] MacCARES is developing a proposal for Macalester to invest in a Utility-Scale Wind Turbine in the range of 2MW.[52] Other projects include the Eco-House, a student residence with a range of green features and research opportunities; a rain garden that prevents stormwater from running off into groundwater, a bike share program, and a veggie co-op.[53] The Class of 2008 designated its senior class gift to a Sustainability Fund to support initiatives to improve environmental sustainability on campus and in the greater community.[53] On January 1, 2013, Macalester started campus composting.[54]

In September 2009, Macalester set a goal to become carbon-neutral by 2025 and Zero-Waste by 2020.[55] The school is a signatory to the Talloires Declaration and the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, the latter obligating the college to work toward carbon neutrality.[56] On April 18, 2012, President Brian Rosenberg signed the “Commitment to Sustainable Practices of Higher Education Institutions on the Occasion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development”.[57]

In 2009, Macalester opened Markim Hall, a LEED Platinum building that houses the school's Institute for Global Citizenship.[58] The building uses 45% less water and 75% less energy than a typical Minnesota building. Macalester is planning to remodel its Music, Theater, and Art buildings and is designing them to Minnesota B3 Guidelines.

Recent sustainability efforts have highlighted the intersection of social justice and climate change at Macalester as well as the potential conflict between its on-campus sustainability and its investments. Since 2012, students have criticized the college for making significant endowment investments in fossil fuel companies, including direct investments in oil and gas private partnerships. The student organization Fossil Free Mac[59] has led a campaign urging the college to divest from fossil fuel companies. The campaign initially proposed full endowment divestment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies, which Macalester's Social Responsibility Committee rejected in 2015.[60][61] In 2018, the Social Responsibility Committee unanimously approved a revised Fossil Free Mac proposal[62] advocating a moratorium on the college's direct investment partnerships with oil and gas companies, which the board of trustees is considering.[63][64] The divestment campaign has received significant support from the student body, student government, faculty, staff, and alumni.[65]

Notable alumni

For a more comprehensive list, see List of Macalester College people.

See also


  1. ^ As of December 31, 2021. "Our Endowment". Macalester College. Archived from the original on 2021-06-08. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  2. ^ Roberts, Andrea Suozzo, Ken Schwencke, Mike Tigas, Sisi Wei, Alec Glassford, Brandon (2013-05-09). "Macalester College, Full Filing - Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. Retrieved 2023-12-21.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Provost". Macalester College. Archived from the original on 19 July 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
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  5. ^ Fiske, Edward B. (June 15, 2019). Fiske Guide to Colleges 2020 (36th ed.). Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks. pp. 430–432. ISBN 978-1-4926-6494-9.
  6. ^ a b "Academics - Macalester College". Retrieved 2023-04-02.
  7. ^ "Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area". Retrieved 2023-04-02.
  8. ^ a b c d "Macalaster College". History. Macalester College. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
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  11. ^ Parker, Linda Faye (1982). Women in Music in St. Paul from 1898-1957 with Emphasis on the St. Paul Public Schools. University of Minnesota. p. 56. Archived from the original on 20 August 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
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  13. ^ "Best Colleges 2024: National Liberal Arts Colleges". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
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  59. ^ "Fossil Free Mac". Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
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Further reading