Women’s History Facts – Edgecliff College

In 1935, the Sisters of Mercy opened Our Lady of Cincinnati College to commuting students in the leased Walnut Hills Edgecliffe estate, formerly the home of Mary Emery. OLC was a hastily-arranged replacement for Clifton’s Sacred Heart, in those days called “Catholic Girl’s Colleges.” The bishop hoped that the little campus would provide a congenial place for Cincinnati girls graduating from High School who might otherwise go away for their college educations, and be lost to the city. There was a barely unspoken expectation that the girls would marry some of the Catholic boys from Xavier at the other end of the new Victory Parkway.
The college, known informally as Edgecliff (without the pretentious trailing “e”), came at the end of an era. The Sisters of Mercy operated the school, with nuns providing the majority of the staff and the order absorbing any operating losses. Tuition was competitive with the University of Cincinnati. The curriculum included the liberal and fine arts – especially music – and teaching. Girls who married were require to withdraw. The college enjoyed great success and modest growth; the student body peaked at about 1200 students. The college purchased the Emery Mansion and several nearby large houses; in the fifties it built an administration building and a library. It was finally accredited in 1955.
Edgecliff – the name the college adopted officially in the late ‘60’s – was caught in the huge cultural changes of that era. It initially responded to the baby boom of the post-war years with a two-year teaching certificate accepted by Catholic grade schools. As the baby boomers approached college age, federal dollars flowed to post-secondary institutions; Edgecliff borrowed money to build a new dormitory and classroom building. The curriculum expanded to include social work and a peculiar cooperative arrangement with the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. The days of small, single sex women’s colleges were numbered. While Edgecliff opened its doors to men in the 1970’s, the financial realities of a paid faculty and expensive facilities, along with the collapse of college student populations at the end of the Vietnam War and the baby boom, forced Egdecliff into a merger with Xavier University in 1980.
The Emery Mansion (now demolished) can be seen near the center, behind the two modern college buildings.