Siena Heights University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Siena Heights University
Siena Heights University is a coeducational, Catholic institution in the Dominican tradition that educates...

Siena Heights University

Adrian, Michigan

At Siena Heights, students do so much more than earn degrees. They develop interests that transform into passions. They discover talents they never knew they had. They make friendships that last forever. Siena Heights University has dedicated almost a century to creating an educational environment in which students feel both instantly comfortable and infinitely challenged.


That’s the Siena Effect.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
2,492 undergraduate students
53% of undergrad students are full time
42% male — 58% female
13% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
96 full-time faculty
2 part-time faculty
12 to 1 student/faculty ratio

School Location

The University is headquartered in Adrian, Michigan, with degree-completion centers in Dearborn, Southfield, Benton Harbor, Monroe, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Jackson. The school also offers a nationally lauded online program.

Retention Fall 2015

72% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

37% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 2%
Hispanic/Latino 5%
Black or African American 11%
White 57%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1%
Asian 1%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 2%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 22%


Affiliation: National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)

Varsity sports: 11 men’s and 12 women’s
Men’s sports: baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, track and field, volleyball
Women’s sports: basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball, cheer and dance
Coed: eSports (New in Fall 2018!)

Nickname: Saints
Mascot: Halo the Husky
Colors: Blue and Yellow

Other Information

Siena Heights University is a coeducational, Catholic institution in the Dominican tradition, founded in 1919 and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

More Distinctions

  • Nationally accredited art program

  • Fully accredited nursing program

  • National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) member

  • NAIA Champions of Character institution

  • GI Jobs Magazine Military Friendly School

  • StormReady institution

  • Nationally ranked Online Program by U.S. News and World Report

With so many opportunities to learn and lead—and with so many friends to make—SHU students refuse to limit themselves. Some choose to organize the “film on the lawn” for Homecoming week. Some come to Coffeehouse gatherings or join the ever-popular, ever-rowdy games of “Bongo Ball.” Most do much more. Whether they choose to help lead the Saints to victory as a Siena athlete or to found an entirely new photography club, an SHU student is sure to build friendships and go on adventures that they will value for the rest of their lives.

The Siena Effect

The experience at Siena Heights has been characterized as “The Siena Effect” and is clearly defined by four characteristics:

  • COMPETENCE in one’s area of study
  • CONFIDENCE in one’s talents and abilities
  • A strong sense of PURPOSE
  • The desire to live and work ETHICALLY

Study Abroad

No matter a student’s major, Siena Heights offers many opportunities for them to go on adventures around the globe, all without sacrificing their  track toward their degree.

Many of SHU’s affiliated international programs are even designed specifically to enhance specific majors. For example, Spanish majors and minors benefit from a direct partnership that SHU has with Veritas University in San José, Costa Rica. Through the Veritas Center for International Programs, students live and learn in Costa Rica while taking classes in both English and Spanish. Students live with Costa Rican families and travel all over the country in an adventure that fully immerses them into the culture. The classes throughout the week are riveting, and the expeditions over the weekend (to rainforests, volcanoes, the Caribbean, and more) are exhilarating!

Other adventures abroad can take students to such locales as eastern Europe and the Italian coast. Students even have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to attend the annual Fanjeaux Seminar in France. This 16-day summer seminar is exclusive to Siena Heights and the other Dominican colleges and universities in the U.S. Spending 13 days in Fanjeaux in the south of France and three days in Paris, students are  exposed to a wealth of historically and culturally rich places.


Each spring, Siena Heights presents a campus-wide Scholarship Symposium at which more than 180 students participate by sharing their senior presentations or research projects.

One thrilling example of the kind of research in which Siena Heights students can participate is a recent Environmental Science study of an at-risk habitat. Environmental Science students traveled to Florida’s Ponce Inlet and the Indian River Lagoon, the most biodiverse estuary in North America, to understand and see the impact of current environmental issues on the population. These student researchers gathered data, toured nearby conservation sites, and even contributed to the conversation about protecting the area’s species.

Siena offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and pre-professional programs as well as 12 graduate programs, with nursing, creative writing, theatre, and biology earning national recognition in recent years. New in 2018 is an online MBA program!

Gender and Ethnic Studies Institute

The new Gender and Ethnic Studies Institute is expected to be a leader in exploring race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. This institute, a one-of-a-kind addition to the University’s Ethnic and Gender Studies minor, is aimed not only to enhance learning in the classroom, but also to support the lives of underserved populations on and around campus. And, with the support of SHU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the institute is constantly thinking up ways to educate the community about the ways that race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality are constructed and treated in society. The institute will also offer a film and speaker series as well as enhance the educational opportunities in numerous curricular areas. Such a unique facility is sure to make socially significant issues expand beyond the Ethnic and Gender Studies minor, fostering a supportive and forward-thinking community all across campus.

One-On-One Interaction

At Siena, effectiveness in the classroom means plenty of one-on-one interaction. The University’s small size allows professors to know students personally and act as active participants in helping them reach their goals and aspirations. Faculty also share the benefit of their own considerable accomplishments; Siena professors conduct scientific research, publish literature, and excel in their fields of expertise.

Student Success

Siena’s professors would be intimidating if they weren’t some of the the most personable people one could meet. Faculty put student success first, getting to know each student’s personal strengths and struggles. Additionally, faculty even work closely with one another so that they may foster interdisciplinary experiences. If a political science professor recognizes a student’s love for writing, for example, he may recommend a literature course on Orwell. Or a sculpture professor could spark a student’s interest in theatre set design. When learning is based on real relationships, there’s no limit to where it can lead.

Top Online Program

Siena Heights’ nationally ranked Online Program had the nation’s second highest graduation rate among private institutions. And, in 2018, it has been recognized as the top program in Michigan and among the best nationally. This is the fifth consecutive year in which the SHU Online Program has been so highly distinguished.

Faculty “Stars”

Here are some recent accomplishments of Siena Heights faculty:

  • Assistant Professor of English Alexander Weinstein had his debut collection, “Children of the New World,” receive national media acclaim. It was named as top pick of the week by The New York Times and was also featured in Entertainment Weekly. It also received national reviews from The Atlantic and Boston Globe and was named among The Best Science Fiction Books of September by The Washington Post.
  • Director of Engineering Ryan Hamilton was one of 24 college and university professors who participated in the Jewish National Fund and Media Watch International’s Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel.
  • Associate Professor of Environmental Science Heather Moody had her manuscript “The Relationship of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Differences and Racial Residential Segregation to Childhood Blood Lead Levels in Metropolitan Detroit” accepted by the Journal of Urban Health.
  • Professor of Art History Peter Barr released a new web site that features a self-guided walking tour of the city of Adrian’s historic district. The new site,, features the Dennis and State streets Historic District, a neighborhood of privately owned homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. This web page offers an updated version of the popular self-guided walking tour that the Lenawee County Historical Museum printed a decade ago.
  • Assistant Professor of Philosophy Dr. Jennifer Kling had her article, “Who Owes What to War Refugees,” accepted for publication in the Journal of Global Ethics. It appeared in the December 2016 issue.
  • Associate Professor of History Dr. Julieanna Frost recently presented her paper, “Awaiting the Second Coming in the Piney Woods: The New House of Israel” at the Communal Studies Association Conference in Salt Lake City.
  • Assistant Professor of Theater and Creative Stages Director Joni Warner worked with girls from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Through this unique program of cultural immersion and academics, she learned about the Lakota traditions as well as offered workshops in dramatic arts.
  • Assistant Professor of Education/Special Education Julie Ross presented at the North Carolina Career and Technical Education Summer Conference in Greensboro, N.C. Her presentations, “What’s Up with the Teenage Brain,” and “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!” stem from her years of interest and passion for the educational application and implications of brain research.

Making a Difference

By the time students have spent four years at Siena Heights University, they are driven to lead lives of difference. A Siena education teaches students to engage in the world around them and contribute to their communities—service isn’t just another activity or résumé builder; it’s a way of life.

Through the Siena Serves program, students can participate in alternative spring break trips in Florida, Jamaica, and New Orleans, taking advantage of their time off to help those in need all across the nation. Additionally, service-learning courses in programs such as social work, teacher education, and sport management enable students to serve throughout the rest of the year as well.

Volunteer Opportunities

At some universities, a special week is set aside for volunteer work. By those standards, every week of the Siena academic year is special. Volunteers have a variety of opportunities to serve. Some can visit Hope Community Center to help senior citizens with disabilities. Some groups may even drop by “Daily Bread” to provide lunch for those in need. Spring breakers can serve across the country from Flint to Miami.

If one prefers to get involved without leaving campus, he or she may organize a project of their own. An annual favorite is “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” during which Siena men hit the track in high heels to raise funds for the Catherine Cobb Domestic Violence Program.

Common Dialogue Day

Unique to Siena Heights, the University conducts an annual “Common Dialogue Day” for thoughtful discussion and debate on campus. It is open to students, faculty, staff, and even members of the local community. Class is canceled on this day to encourage participation, and students are invited to attend several guest presentations related to the year’s academic theme. It is an enlightening day of debate and discovery that takes to heart the mission of the Siena Heights community.

Living on Campus

The Siena Heights residence halls are more than buildings in which students sleep and eat—the University provides an environment that supports the holistic growth of students toward lives that reflect the Dominican traditions of prayer, study, community, and service.

There are several on-campus options for living on campus, including traditional residence halls, apartment-style living, and a small, community-based residence hall.

Get Involved

At Siena, it’s never too early to try new things. Each fall semester begins with the Student Organization Fair to introduce students to clubs related to their areas of study and beyond. Here are just a few of the on-campus organizations that students can join:

Adopt-a-Sister: Committed to creating a strong connection with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, students visit an elderly Sister at the Motherhouse on a weekly basis and host multiple events throughout the year to promote even more interaction with the Sisters.

Alpha Phi Omega: a co-ed service fraternity with 3 key ideals: service, leadership, and friendship.  

Beta Beta Beta: Biology honor and professional society designed to stimulate interest, scholarly attainment, and investigation of biological sciences.

beFree: This human trafficking coalition at Siena Heights University is a social group established to increase and maintain campus knowledge of human trafficking in all its forms not only globally, but locally as well.

BuildOn: This is a movement with the purpose of fighting the cycle of illiteracy, poverty, and low societal expectations through service and education​.

Compel Campus Ministry: This is a student-led organization that gives students an opportunity to be inspired and encouraged through God’s word to fulfil their purpose in life.

Dominican Young Adults: The purpose of Dominican Young Adults is to provide an environment of peers who work for spiritual enrichment, the expansion of knowledge of the traditions and values upon which this university was founded, and community service. DYA seeks to actively live the Dominican Charisms of prayer, study, community, and preaching.

Entrepreneur Club: The mission of the SHU Entrepreneur Club is to inform, support, and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunities through enterprise creation.

Math Club: The purpose of Pi Mu Epsilon (Math Club) is the promotion and recognition of scholarly activity in the mathematical sciences among students at the academic institutions that have been chartered as Chapters of the Society.

Phi Sigma Sigma: The purpose of Phi Sigma Sigma is to serve; promote friendship and cooperation among collegiate women of all ethnic backgrounds, creeds, religions, and sexual orientation; to raise the standard of academic ideals; and promote philanthropic endeavors.

SAFE: Students Advocating For Everyone is dedicated to promoting awareness and advocacy for students, faculty, and community members around Siena Heights University and the community.

SPARC: Student Programming and Recreation Committee social organization focused on providing entertainment and recreation to the Siena Heights campus.

Student Government: Siena Heights Student Government strives to be the voice and advocate of the student body. It acts as the liaison between administrators, faculty, staff, students, and campus organizations.

Career Services and Internships

The Career Services department at Siena Heights covers all the bases in preparing students for their lives after college, assisting students in identifying their career goals, developing professional plans, finding internships, and creating their professional images. And it all begins on day one.

Career Services connects with students in their freshman year to begin their self-assessment and career exploration. With the support of the department’s staff, Siena students are prepared to apply for jobs and graduate schools alike.

Capstone Projects

Capstone projects are not only common at Siena Heights, but also highly celebrated. The annual Scholarship Symposium gives seniors in all fields of study to put their projects on display. A true showcase of academic achievement, this daylong event is an amazing opportunity for Siena Heights students to share their passions and discover new things.

‘The Siena Effect’ in Action

One of the best reflections of a great university is the difference its graduates make in the world. All Siena Heights University students can expect to graduate with competence in their areas of study, confidence in their talents and abilities, a strong sense of purpose, and the desire to live and work ethically. Siena Heights graduates below tell what “The Siena Effect” did for them:

“Siena’s mission to become competent, purposeful, and ethical stayed with me in my military service. It was about becoming my best self every day.”
– Elizabeth McCormick ’93, former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, author and motivational speaker

“I have the best job in the universe, being mayor of the best city in the state of Michigan. … I would not be here if not for Siena Heights. I recognize that.”
– Bobby Hopewell ’96, Mayor of Kalamazoo, Mich., and health care executive

“The faculty at Siena do a tremendous job of teaching more than facts; they teach you how to seek knowledge.”
– Lacey Wilmot Rao ’02, orthopedic surgeon

“Education is the foundation of the knowledge that I use, especially at Siena Heights. I focused on as many finance classes as I could. For me, that’s what really separates me from everyone else in my career. I took advantage of the instruction and (expertise) of the instructors at Siena Heights. … They helped me connect the dots. I use a lot of the skills even to this day.”
–  Chad Grant ‘99, President and CEO, McLaren Flint

“I teach every day. I go in the classrooms. I am their coach and I am their helper. … If you are a teacher, then you are always a teacher.”
–  Katie Guilbault Decker ’89, Principal, Hollingsworth STEAM, Walter Long STEAM and Walter Bracken STEAM academies, Las Vegas Magnet Schools of America’s 2013 National Principal of the Year

“Get involved. SHU may be a smaller institution, however, the university doesn’t lack opportunity. Between the numerous clubs/organizations, athletic teams and theatre/art, there are opportunities for all students to get involved at Siena. Embrace your time at SHU and don’t take it for granted, you’ll graduate before you know it.”
–  Brandon Bowers ’13, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Athletico Physical Therapy, Columbus, Ohio

“I just kept building on that energy I first got (at Siena Heights). That energy came out of how the Siena community embraced me and made me feel good about who I was. … There was something here that made me recognize … that there’s an excellence inside of me that others are seeing. It was wonderful. It was transformative.”
–  Tod Marshall ‘90, English faculty member, Gonzaga University; 2016 Poet laureate, State of Washington

“The most impactful and life-altering memory: a semester in Merida, Mexico offered through the Spanish Department. My experience abroad was nothing short of all the clichés on the benefits of cultural immersion. I lived the eye-opening, yet mentally and emotionally challenging, venture in which you learn to appreciate the vast differences between the foreign way of life and that of your homeland, including the language, food, daily commute, the environment. It unfortunately included befriending the sugar ants and suffering Montezuma’s revenge, but the best of all, amazing friendships and exploration!”
–  Kim Stoutenburg ’09, President, On-site Operations, Wilson-Bennett Technology

“The professors I learned from in the business program aligned all of our classes with the mission. We were taught and expected to be competent and purposeful as we prepared to enter our careers. More importantly though, we were challenged to take an ethical view of managing our career, and our decisions. Upon graduation, I was poised to deliver value in a competent, purposeful, and ethical manner in business, and my life.  I’m deeply proud of my Siena Heights education. “
–  Dan Pena ’01, Vice President of Advancement, Siena Heights University


Admissions Fall 2015

1,777 Total Applicants 
1,377 Total Admissions 
305 Total Freshman Enrollment

77.49% of applicants admitted

Freshman Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 420 510
SAT Math 460 540
SAT Writing    
ACT Composite 18 26
ACT Math 17 24
ACT English 17 24
ACT Writing    


Net Price Calculator


Tuition $26,558
Fees $566
Total $27,124
Room and Board (on campus) $10,620
Estimated Total On Campus $37,744


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

100% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
76% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded student loan aid

$16,259 Average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid awarded
$7,042 Average amount of student loan aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates


Academic Scholarships (scholarship competition required)
Fine and Performing Arts Scholarship (audition or portfolio review required)
Athletic Scholarships
Campus Ministry Scholars Program
Transfer Scholarships
International Scholarships
Federal and State Aid
Federal Pell Grants (need based)
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (need based)
Federal Direct Stafford Loans
Federal PLUS Loans
Michigan Tuition Grant (for qualifying Michigan residents who qualify)
Tuition Incentive Program (for qualifying Michigan residents who qualify)

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