The spirit behind Rockhurst University was born in 1521, when a Spanish soldier took a cannonball in the leg at Pomplona. That soldier, later to be known as St. Ignatius of Loyola, used his recovery period to develop his spirituality and approach to life. That new spirituality led to the formation of the Society of Jesus. The subsequent Jesuit tradition of service to others through a liberal education has been renowned worldwide for more than 450 years.
The Ignatian spirit was expressed in Kansas City in 1910 with the founding of Rockhurst University and High School. A charter from the state of Missouri empowered "Rockhurst University" to offer degrees. The construction of Sedgwick Hall in 1914 allowed the opening of high school classes in 1914; college classes began in 1917. Small in numbers but infused with the Jesuit spirit, the first Rockhurst University students were all taught by the Rev. Alphonse Schwitalla, S.J. Just as the Jesuit order grew from the calling of one man into a worldwide force, so Rockhurst has grown from the dream of a small, hardy crew of priests into an institution with national reach.
A commitment to academic excellence and community service has marked Rockhurst's path. Today the University serves approximately 3,000 students. Both undergraduate and graduate degree programs feature the lifelong liberal arts learning approach that is a hallmark of Jesuit education. Through a subsidiary, Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center, Rockhurst is also the nation's largest nonprofit provider of adult continuing education.