​History and Facts

A history of compassionate service and academic excellence.

A formative figure in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences history and ethos, Mother Rosalie Hill, once said:

Beauty will attract them; goodness will lead them; but the truth will hold them.

She knew our campus' location would initially attract students and faculty. She also knew that this would be the kind of academic atmosphere that would attract people conscious of social justice—and that here, a dedication to truth and equality would knit our academic community together.

Mother Hill founded the San Diego College for Women which, over the decades, has evolved into the present-day School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES). Her dedication to both academics and global citizenship underlies everything we do. We know that learning is only the beginning of our mission. We know that diversity and inclusivity matter, that social responsibility matters and that reaching beyond our own comfort zones puts us on the path to excellence.

Explore key milestones in SOLES history below, and learn how we got to our present position in our local and global community.

A Snapshot of SOLES Today

Originally founded in 1962 as an academic department within the University of San Diego's department of Education in its College For Women, SOLES took on its present-day name in 2005. Today, it's home to four academic departments that share a tie to our original mission: Leadership Studies, Learning and Teaching, Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy, and the Naval ROTC program. Across these departments, our faculty are involved in numerous research projects, using new and innovative pedagogies and engaging in a range of scholarship activities embodying the core values of SOLES. Additionally, SOLES serves as home to research institutes and centers that strengthen our mission and connections locally and internationally.

As the second oldest academic institution at the University of San Diego, our story has been shaped by a long line of educators, visionaries and community activists.

A Look At SOLES History:

List of historical SOLES dates
Year Milestones
1949 Charters granted for the San Diego College for Women (SDCW) and San Diego University, which was comprised of the San Diego College for Men (SDCM) and the Law School.
1951 Construction of SDCW completed (now Founders and Camino Halls)
1952 Mother Margaret Guest appointed department chair of SDCW. Mother Rosalie Hill is named honorary president of the university.
1960 First Masters of Education degree from SDCW
1963 SDCM adds Single-subject Teaching Credential
1972 SDCW and SDCM merge to become the School of Education (SOE).
Monsignor Dr. William Elliott is appointed dean of SOE.

Drs. Joseph Rost and Phil Hwang establish first doctoral program in leadership studies in the United States.
Dr. Edward DeRoche is appointed dean of SOE.

1989 DeForest Strunk Chair in special education is endowed creating the first SOE Chair at USD.
1998 Dr. Paula Cordeiro is appointed dean of SOE.
2005 The School of Education becomes the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES).
2007 Construction of Mother Rosalie Hill Hall is completed. SOLES moves to its new home.
2008 SOLES is ranked among the top 100 national universities in graduate education programs.
2009 USD celebrates its 60th birthday and the doctoral program in leadership studies turns 30.
SOLES is ranked among the top 100 universities in graduate education programs for the second year in a row.
2009 SOLES becomes the new home of the university's renowned AROTC and NROTC programs and the Naval Science minor for undergraduates.
2012 SOLES celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Dr. Nicholas Ladany is appointed Dean of SOLES.


Dr. Joi Spencer is appointed Interim Dean of SOLES.

Our Namesake and Inspiration


The beautiful building we moved into in 2007 bears the name of one of our founders, Mother Rosalie Hill. She was a gifted educator and administrator and served as principal of the Sacred Heart School in Boston during the 1920s until she was later named Vicar of the Sacred Heart Western Province and supervisor for the San Francisco College of Women. In San Francisco, she met Reverend Charles F. Buddy, first bishop of the Diocese of San Diego.

The two envisioned establishing a university in San Diego that would provide the best in sacred and secular learning—and a few years later, their plans came to life. Mother Hill was the founding president of our precursor, the San Diego College for Women, and served as an honorary president until her death on December 12th, 1964. She embodied the compassionate service and dedication to educational equity that is foundational to the mission and vision of SOLES.

Bishop Charles Buddy is also honored as an educational pioneer in Hill Hall's Sala (Spanish for "living room").

Educational Pioneers

The Sala also recognizes 15 pioneers in education whose work and accomplishments mirror the vision of SOLES: Mary McLeod Bethune, Don Bosco, Confucius, John Dewey, W.E.B. DuBois, Paulo Freire, Fredrich Froebel, Horace Mann, Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, Tomas Rivera, Carl Rogers, Janet Erskine Stuart, Lev Vygotsky and Booker T. Washington.