History & Mission

Iona University (at the time, Iona College) opened its doors in 1940 with nine Christian Brothers and six lay faculty greeting the first class. Their goal was to open new paths to economic and social advancement for the sons of New York’s working class.

They gave their new institution the name of Iona, after a small island located in the Inner Hebrides just off the west coast of Scotland. It was on this tiny island, in 563, where the Irish monk Saint Columba established an abbey from which missionaries went forth to teach and evangelize.

The island of Iona became a center for faith and learning, which contributed significantly to the religious and cultural development of Western Europe. As did the monks of St. Columba’s time, Iona University’s founders believed in giving students the best secular training while educating the “whole person” – mind, heart and spirit.

  • The War Years: America’s entry into World War II caused the Iona's small enrollment to decline. Only three members of the entering class went on to receive bachelor's degrees in August 1944. Despite this, Iona survived. Student groups such as the newspaper, sports teams and service clubs were active.
  • Post-War: Returning veterans, helped by the GI Bill® and attracted by Iona’s practical majors, soon stretched Iona to capacity. In 1948, seventy-one men graduated; by 1950, the number was up to three hundred.
  • New Millennium: In the fifty years leading up to the turn of the 21st century, Iona grew dramatically while retaining its original mission. Today, Iona is a diverse institution of nearly four-thousand students. We offer forty-five majors, thirty-five minors and thirty graduate programs, across two beautiful campuses. Our main, 45-acre campus is located in New Rochelle, N.Y., and our second, 28-acre campus is in Bronxville, N.Y. In 2022, Iona officially changed its status from College to University.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.