Biographical Portraits

The Presidents of Providence College

Providence College - Archival Collections


Providence College, Phillips Memorial Library, Special and Archival Collections are please to present the Presidents of Providence College (PPC) archive for your research needs.

The PPC repository contains images and biographical information on each of the college's presidents from Father Dennis Albert Casey, O.P., the first president, to Father Philip Alphonsus Smith, O.P., the college's eleventh president.


In 1910, after years spent establishing numerous parishes and schools, Matthew Harkins, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, felt the time was right to pursue his dream of establishing a Catholic college in the Diocese. He was familiar with the seven-century teaching mission of the Order of Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans, and invited the Fathers of the Province of St. Joseph to establish a new college in the City of Providence.

In 1911 the Provincial reported to the Master General in Rome that the Council of the Province had accepted the Bishop's offer but asked that the foundation be postponed until the Province could provide an adequate staff of professors. In 1911 and 1913 the Bishop purchased property in northwest Providence on which to build the college. But the necessary ecclesiastical permissions from the Master General and the Pope were slow in coming.

Negotiations did not progress until the elections of Louis Theissling, O.P., as Master General in 1916, and, especially, of James Raymond Meagher, O.P., as Provincial in 1913. Both shared the Bishop's commitment to Catholic education. In 1915 Father Meagher and Bishop Harkins began the pursuit of formal permission from Rome in earnest. Even before all the founding documents were received in February 1917, the energetic Father Meagher made several moves to start making the Bishop's dream a reality. The first of which was to call upon Father Dennis Albert Casey, O. P., who would go on to become the College's first President (more on Fr. Casey...).



Search for images and biographical information on each President of the College or use the Biographical or Portraits links above to browse the repository.



Search By Phrase
  • Use double quotes around your search query, (e.g. "Smith" "Cunningham") or browse the collections using the links above. The search engine looks for records containing every term you submit. Use a minus sign before a term you want to omit from your results. (e.g. 'bass -fish' finds bass guitars but not bass fishing.)

For additional information or assistance please contact Special and Archival Collections.


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