The Bard College of today reflects in many ways its varied past. Bard was founded as St. Stephen’s College in 1860, a time of national crisis. While there are no written records of the founders’ attitude toward the Civil War, a passage from the College’s catalogue of 1943 applies also to the time of the institution’s establishment:
“While the immediate demands in education are for the training of men for the war effort, liberal education in America must be preserved as an important value in the civilization for which the War is being fought. . . . Since education, like life itself, is a continuous process of growth and effort, the student has to be trained to comprehend and foster his own growth and direct his own efforts.”
Building on a 150-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College's mission has expanded across the country, around the world, and to meet broader student needs. Now, approximately 2,000 undergraduates study in Annandale and more than 200 graduate students study in Bard programs, plus nearly 1,000 students in our early colleges. Total enrollment for Bard College and its global affiliates is approximately 5,000 students.