Severance Hall

Severance Hall of University of Dubuque as it appeared in 1913. A settlement was reached in March 1920 that resolved a naming dispute between two schools that called themselves "Dubuque College." One became the University of Dubuque and the other became Columbia, and later Loras, College.

The course of higher education changed 100 years ago this month when a legal settlement resolved a years-long naming dispute between two colleges claiming the title of “Dubuque College.”

An institution of higher learning on Delhi Street school was known as Dubuque German College and Seminary until 1916, when it dropped the word “German” from its name and went by Dubuque College.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s oldest college was located just a few blocks away on 14th Street. Founded by Bishop Mathias Loras in 1839, the school also was known as Dubuque College.


The settlement stipulated that both schools had to choose new names. The schools were allowed to use the words “of Dubuque” in their new names but not “Dubuque” by itself.

The Delhi Street school took the name University of Dubuque. The 14th Street school changed its name to Columbia College before adopting its current name, Loras College, in 1939. Here is how the Telegraph Herald reported on the settlement in its March 23, 1920, edition.


The legal battle through the district and supreme courts of Iowa that has been waged for the past six years between the two Dubuque colleges to determine which was entitled to use the name, “Dubuque College,” was ended Tuesday afternoon by a compromise reached after a series of conferences.

It was announced in the future that the Delhi Street school would be known as the University of Dubuque. A name for the 14th Street school has not been selected.

Dr. Cornelius M. Steffens, president of the University of Dubuque, and Very Rev. John Stuart, president of Dubuque College, 14th Street, met at the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday afternoon and announced that a compromise had been reached — in the future, neither of the schools is to use the name “Dubuque College.”

The basis for agreement was the desire on the part of those interested in both institutions to establish a spirit of harmony, for the sake of religion and for the good of the community in general.

Father Stuart states that the name Loras College had not been selected for the 14th Street school but that a name would be announced in the near future.

In announcing the name “The University of Dubuque” for the Delhi Street school, Dr. Steffens said:

“The new name may seem pretentious, but the school will try to be worthy. A school in education, commerce and probably engineering may be instituted in the near future, so that it will be entitled to use the prefix of university in its title.”