St. John Fisher College was founded as a Catholic college in 1948 through the combined efforts of civic leaders, the community at large, the Basilian Fathers, and the late Most Reverend James E. Kearney, then Bishop of Rochester. It was founded as a college for men under the direction of priests of the Congregation of St. Basil. In 1968, the Board of Trustees, once composed only of Basilian Fathers, was enlarged and diversified so that today the College is governed by an independent Board of Trustees that includes persons of diverse faiths and that is broadly representative of the business, professional, cultural, and academic communities of the area it serves. In 1971, the first women students were admitted. Today, St. John Fisher College is a private, independent college emphasizing the liberal arts as well as programs in traditional academic disciplines and more directly career-oriented fields.
As it progresses through the 21st century, the College remains true to its Catholic and Basilian heritage. The 154-acre campus has 26 modern buildings. The College currently enrolls more than 2,600 full-time undergraduate students, over half of whom live in residence. In addition, nearly 200 part-time undergraduate students and over 1,000 graduate students take credit courses. Full- and part-time faculty number over 350.
From its beginning, St. John Fisher College has recognized its responsibility to those people and businesses of the Rochester area who have continued to give it their generous support. Accordingly, the College makes a special effort to serve this community by finding places within its classrooms for qualified local students, by attracting to Rochester from other areas faculty and students who can contribute to the life of the community, and by providing instruction of a quality that will enable its graduates to serve well in their vocations and avocations.
The College also admits part-time students and transfer students from two-year and four-year colleges.
The Basilian Fathers are an international teaching community with more than a century of experience in the work of higher education. Today, members of the Basilian community serve as regular members of the faculty and professional staff, all of whom have been chosen for their academic excellence and experience. The Basilian tradition of working in close collaboration with public and private colleges and universities continues as an established principle of St. John Fisher College.