Viterbo University
Former names
St. Rose Normal School (1890–1939)
Viterbo College (1939–2000)
TypePrivate university
Established1890; 134 years ago (1890)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$55.3 million (2020)[1]
PresidentRichard C. Trietley, Jr.
Location, ,
United States
Sporting affiliations

Viterbo University is a private Catholic university in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Founded in 1890 by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Viterbo is home to three colleges with nine schools offering 48 academic programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.[3]

Viterbo is one of 23 Franciscan universities in the United States, with 2,521 undergraduate and graduate students and over 23,000 alumni. As of 2020, Viterbo's endowment was a record $55.7 million.[4] Viterbo is a member of the NAIA and the North Star Athletic Association; its athletic teams are known as the V-Hawks.


In 1890, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration founded St. Rose Normal School, a school to prepare religious sisters to teach in elementary schools.[5] College courses were later introduced in 1923 as Viterbo began laying the foundation to evolve into a four-year degree-granting institution. About 10 years later, Viterbo developed a four-year college program, and by the 1931-32 school year became known as St. Rose Junior College with authorization from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. By 1939, Viterbo received approval as a four-year degree-granting institution for the preparation of teachers for elementary schools Around this time, the school was renamed Viterbo College, reflecting its evolving and expanding educational offerings. In 1940, Viterbo College held its first commencement exercises with certification from the State Department of Public Instruction.

During the 1950s, Viterbo continued to expand its liberal arts offerings and in 1952 it received accreditation from the University of Wisconsin Committee on College Accreditation, becoming a four-year liberal arts college. Since 1954, Viterbo had been accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Today it is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, among many other commissions and groups.[6][7]

On September 4, 2000, the college was renamed Viterbo University to reflect its growth into a comprehensive university with robust graduate and undergraduate offerings, including outreach programs. In 2013, the university's first doctoral program was introduced, in nursing practice.[2]


St. Rose of Viterbo Convent
Fine Arts building
Student Union

Viterbo's campus is on 21 acres of land in the Midtown district of La Crosse, Wisconsin, minutes from the city's downtown. The urban, 18-building campus is landlocked within the city's Washburn neighborhood.[8] Viterbo also has a satellite campus in Des Moines, Iowa.

Centered around the historic St. Rose of Viterbo Convent, originally built in 1871 and rebuilt in 1923 after a fire, Viterbo's campus is compact. The first building to bear the Viterbo name hosted its first classes in January 1942. In 1972, the building was named Murphy Center in honor of W. Leo Murphy, a longtime Viterbo supporter and the first chair of the Board of Advisors.[9]

In 1971, Viterbo's Fine Arts Center was completed. In 1987, the Varsity Athletic Center was built. In 2004, the D.B. and Marge Reinhart Center for Ethics, Science, and Technology was completed, and in 2005 the Amie L. Mathy Center expansion to the 1987 athletics building was completed. The Mathy Center is a collaboration between Viterbo and the local Boys and Girls Clubs of La Crosse—the first such effort in the country. A remodeling of the Todd Wehr Memorial Library within the main academic building, Murphy Center, was completed in 2006, and the school bookstore was remodeled in the summer of 2006. Between 2009 and 2011, the Student Union was remodeled at the expense of the Student Government Association, in collaboration with the Residence Hall Council. The remodel included upgrades to the security desk, flooring, computer area, television, and furniture.

The School of Nursing Building, which opened in 2011, has simulation labs dedicated to critical care, medical/surgical, maternal newborn care, child health care, nutrition and dietetics. Since 2013, Viterbo has shared space at the Weber Center for the Performing Arts, a 30,000-square-foot facility in downtown La Crosse, and the newest university facility.

The Viterbo University facilities in operation are:


Viterbo is southeast of downtown La Crosse and is served by the La Crosse MTU transit system, which offers students fare-free service. Route 1 provides bus service encircling the campus on Market Street, 11th Street and Jackson Street.[11] SMRT buses stop on 11th Street, providing regional bus service to Prairie du Chien, Viroqua, Tomah and other destinations.[12]

The bikeshare system DriftCycle has a bikeshare station between Mayo Clinic and Viterbo.[13]

Student demographics

As of fall 2020, 2,521 students were enrolled at Viterbo. There were 1,630 undergraduates and 891 graduate students. Viterbo has a student/faculty ratio of 11:1 and an average class size of 16.[2]


Viterbo fields

Viterbo's athletic teams are called the V-Hawks. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) since the 2015–16 academic year; while its men's volleyball team competes as an affiliate member in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC). The V-Hawks competed in the defunct Midwest Collegiate Conference (MCC) from 1989–90 to 2014–15, when the conference dissolved.

Viterbo competes in 20 intercollegiate varsity sports. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball; women's sports include basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball; and co-ed sports include competitive dance and eSports.[14]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty

See also


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Viterbo University. Quick Facts
  3. ^ "University Facts and Statistics | Viterbo University". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  4. ^ "U.S. News & World Report". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  5. ^ "History | Viterbo University". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Accreditations and Approvals | Viterbo University". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Higher Learning Commission". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Campus Map | Viterbo University". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Leo Murphy: Viterbo's Pioneering Advisor | Viterbo University".
  10. ^ "La Crosse Public Library Archives :: St. Wenceslaus Parish School".
  11. ^ "MTU Route Map". Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  12. ^ "SMRT Bus Schedule" (PDF). Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  13. ^ "DriftCycle Find a Station". Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  15. ^ Hall, Margaret (March 6, 2024). "Broadway Cats, Phantom of the Opera Star Linda Balgord Dies at 64". Playbill. Retrieved April 20, 2024.
  16. ^ "Viterbo honors Sister Thea Bowman, alumna and possible saint | Viterbo University".
  17. ^ "2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Barry Lee Moe '01 | Viterbo University".

43°48′12″N 91°14′40″W / 43.803235°N 91.244506°W / 43.803235; -91.244506