Skip to main content

Morrissey, James P., S.J., Fr.



  • Existence: 1816 - 1897


Father Gleeson was succeeded on July 31, 1910, by the Rev. James P. Morrisey, S.J., the fourteenth President of Santa Clara College, and the first President of the University of Santa Clara. Fr. James P. Morrisey, S.J., served as President from 1910 to 1913. He graduated from Santa Clara College with honors in 1891, after which he entered the novitiate at Los Gatos. He was named rector-president on July 31, 1910. During his presidency, Santa Clara underwent many changes, including a campus expansion and the change from college to university. Shortly after starting as president, Father Morrissey announced that Santa Clara College would not move to the Mountain View property. However, a move to the Los Angeles area was now considered. This idea was supported by several former presidents, as was the elimination of on-campus boarders. In March of 1911, the decision was made to keep the current campus open and retain the on-campus boarding program. Part of Alviso street was closed, so the Santa Clara campus was no longer split in half. Father Morrissey created an ambitious master plan that included the construction of twelve new campus buildings. In 1911, construction on an Administrative Building, now known as St. Joseph’s Hall, began. This building would also house the Jesuit faculty displaced by the 1909 fire. Senior Hall, now O’Connor Hall, was erected on the California Hotel site. Changes occurred in the everyday lives of students as well--new dormitories offered private rooms instead of study halls and the buildings featured running water with modern toilets. The high wall that surrounded the college campus was razed, and students were now allowed to go home for Thanksgiving and Easter. Academic changes happened as well. College applicants now had to pass entrance exams and complete high school to be accepted. There was an increase in professional courses, and the Bachelor of Science was reintroduced. The College of Engineering was also established during this time period, and an Institute of Law in 1912. Because of these academic improvements Father Morrissey felt that Santa Clara could now rightfully call itself a university. The change was celebrated at the 1912 commencement ceremony. However, not all Jesuits were fans of Father Morrissey’s modernizations; some felt that he took too many liberties and made too many decisions without consulting others. He also allegedly had spoken ill of Archbishop Riordan, and several Jesuits wrote to Rome to complain about Father Morrissey. Father Morrissey served as president until 1913, when he requested reassignment.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Records of the Presidents, 1856-1921

 Record Group
Identifier: 3DB
Scope and Contents Files include primarily correspondence of the early presidents of Santa Clara: Congiato (1856-1857), Cicaterri (1857-1861), Villiger (1861-1865), Varsi (1868-1876), Brunengo (1876-1880), Kenna (1883-1888), Pinasco (1888-1893), Riordan (1893-1894), Kenna (1899-1905), Gleeson (1905-1910), Morrissey (1910-1913), Thornton (1913-1918), and Murphy (1918-1921). Boxes 5 and 6 include Fr. Kenna's breviary and crucifix and Box 7 includes 2 copies of Rev. John Ryan, S.J.'s "Memoir of the Life of Rev....
Dates: 1856-1921

Records of Fr. James P. Morrisey, S.J., 1910-1913

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1989-059
Dates: 1910-1913