What is Hilbert College?

By Joe Pinter, @JPinter93

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. (Nov. 12) – About 60 miles separate St. Bonaventure University from Hilbert College in Hamburg, N.Y.

The short drive between the two Franciscan schools has helped the respective administrations to share certain services and even house a portion of Bonaventure’s graduate school on the Hilbert campus, what is now referred to as, “the Buffalo Center.”

But until now, the cooperation between the two small, four-year institutions was limited.

Sr. Margaret Carney, Bonaventure president, recently announced a feasibility study looking into a strategic alliance between Bonaventure and Hilbert. The study was handily approved by both boards of trustees.

Not all of Bonaventure’s students know much about Hilbert. In fact, many of the students from out-of-state know very little at all about Hilbert.

Hilbert has only been a four-year college for just over 20 years. Started in 1957 by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph as a teacher training college for its members, the curriculum was soon changed to include more than just education classes. In 1969, men were admitted for the first time.

In that year the school also became Hilbert College (named after Mother Colette Hilbert who established the Sisters in 1897).

Today, the school with over 1,000 undergraduates, offers 16 four-year degrees and many graduate programs. It is also one of a very few schools in the country that offer degrees in Computer Security and Information Assurance.

Hilbert’s low class sizes resemble those of Bonaventure. The student-faculty ratio is 13:1.

And being a liberal arts school, Hilbert has many of the basic undergraduate programs: Business, Communication, English, Psychology and Political Science, to name a few.

Its campus is vastly different, however.

Not many students call the 60-acre campus home. In fact, the college has only two residence halls and a few apartment buildings that house 300 students.

The Hilbert Hawks also have men’s and women’s lacrosse and volleyball – the Bonnies only have women’s lacrosse.

Hilbert’s undergraduate tuition is $19,900, while its room and board raises the total cost to $28,425 (substantially lower than Bonaventure’s total of nearly $40,000).

Carney has an honorary doctorate from Hilbert, she is a member of the Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M.) and is a doctor of sacred theology (S.T.D.); the final theological degree in the pontifical university system of the Catholic Church. Carney was the dean and director of the Franciscan Institute at Bonaventure until 2004 when she was named president.

Hilbert president Cynthia Zane is not a member of a Franciscan order and doesn’t have an extensive background in Catholicism. She does, however, have an Ed. D. (doctorate in education). She previously served as the dean of the faculty at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio. She became Hilbert’s third president in 2006.


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