From the establishment of Mount Saint Joseph Academy in 1874, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph strived to provide quality education to the young girls of western Kentucky.
Starting in 1894, Mount Saint Joseph Academy offered postgraduate courses for young women preparing to take the state teachers’ examination. In 1919, the Ursuline Sisters started to provide summer sessions in college subjects, but only the sisters were admitted.
In September 1925, the Mount Saint Joseph Junior College was established. It provided courses in English, Latin, Modern Languages, History, Math, Religion, Education, and Biology. The Junior College allowed students to be admitted as juniors in a four-year college with the two-year certificate. Registration started on Sept. 15 with 30 students enrolled.
On April 19, 1926, the Junior College received a visit from Dr. W.D. Funkhouser, dean of the graduate school at the University of Kentucky, as a representative of the Accrediting Committee of the University. Dr. Funkhouser praised the academic work of the students and expressed approval along with his endorsement of the conduct of the Junior College.
During the months of January and February 1927, the students were granted the right to maintain state, elementary, and high school teaching certificates with their Junior College credits. As the Junior College continued to grow, a bus line from Owensboro to St. Joseph made it possible for the Owensboro girls to attend as day students.
A year after the bus line expansion, Mount Saint Joseph Junior College became an official member of the American Association of Junior Colleges and the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. The courses at the Junior College were expanding as well. Students were allowed to submit requests for special courses like music, art, and public speaking.
In September 1928, the Junior College welcomed 60 girls to the school and a new building for college use. The new room, in Saint Michael’s Hall, would be used for lecture and study. Before this room was added, the college courses were taught in Academy rooms that were not in use.
January 1930 brought a new hall to the college students. Saint Angela Hall, built in 1914 for noviate training and faculty offices, was to be used as a college hall for the girls at Mount Saint Joseph Junior College. The first floor featured recreation, reading and dining rooms. The second floor held offices, a lounge, and assembly room. The last floor featured the students’ quarters.
In 1932, the Junior College became a member of two more associations, the Southern Association of Colleges for Women and the Kentucky Association of Colleges and Universities.
On Dec. 14, 1938, the College Choral and Dramatic Clubs featured a Christmas reading and play prologue on WOMI radio.The Dramatic Club performed the Christmas reading, ‘A Little Knock’, and play prologue, ‘The Most Beautiful Story’, while the Choral Club performed the background carols.
In 1946, Mount St. Joseph Junior College began offering coeducational courses in Owensboro–at 120 W. Seventh Street. The Ursuline faculty commuted from Maple Mount to Owensboro.
1948 marked a new era for Mount Saint Joseph Junior College. A new sign saying BRESCIA COLLEGE was posted outside 120 W. Seventh Street in Owensboro to designate the new branch of Mount Saint Joseph College. For the previous three years, sisters had taught courses at Brescia Hall in Owensboro. They had seen 90 young men and women attend Monday – Friday and evening courses.Due to the new academic status of Brescia Hall, the school was able to offer courses to veterans. Of the 90 students, 27 were veterans. A quarter were interested in nursing, and attended courses offered by an instructor at the hospital.