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Avila University

Mission statement

A drone photograph of the campus showing buildings, trees, and a football field.

Avila University, a Catholic University founded and inspired by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, provides undergraduate and graduate education in the liberal arts and professional studies, preparing lifelong learners who make meaningful contributions to the global community.

A brief history

In 1866, Mother Francis Joseph Ivory came to Kansas City to staff a small school incorporated as St. Teresa’s Academy (in honor of St. Teresa of Avila) shortly after her arrival. For more than 25 years, St. Teresa’s was the only Catholic school providing more than an elementary education for girls in Kansas City.

In 1916 the school became St. Teresa’s College, a two-year college for women. The school’s faculty of 15 sisters initially outnumbered the students. Five years later, in 1921, the University of Missouri accredited St. Teresa College. In 1930, the school became affiliated with St. Joseph Hospital’s School of Nursing, a professional emphasis that continues today at Avila.

In 1940, while celebrating the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Kansas City, the school became a four-year institution named College of St. Teresa. Six years later, it received accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

With enrollment increasing, the modern era of Avila began in 1963 when construction began on a much larger new campus in South Kansas City. With the new location came a new name, Avila College. In 2002, the College became Avila University.

A diverse group of men and women students at computers in a classroom.
Students at Avila University


Jim Burkee, PhD


Dave Armstrong

Director of University Mission and Ministry

SJEM Member and Mission Representative

Tom Burns

Chair, Avila University Board of Trustees