Briar Cliff University was founded in 1930 by the Sisters of Saint Francis of Dubuque, Iowa. Briar Cliff is deeply committed to Catholic Franciscan traditions of service, caring and openness allowing students from all faiths to be comfortable and grow in mind, body and spirit.
Saint Francis of Assisi was born in Italy in 1182. As a young man, he had a major faith conversion while praying before a crucifix in a chapel called San Damiano. That crucifix has become known as the San Damiano cross and can be found in buildings and classrooms throughout the Briar Cliff University campus.
Saint Francis modeled his life after Jesus, as did Saint Clare, a contemporary of his day. Today they are considered the co-founders of the Franciscan Order. These saints chose to emphasize values that are rooted prayer and express an intense love of God and a desire to be like Jesus.
Out of this relationship, Franciscans are called to live a life of simplicity and respect for all persons, especially for the poor. Franciscans also have a deep reverence for all creation and a commitment to peacemaking. They strive to create community wherever they serve by living in right relationship with all of life. These values form the basis the Franciscan spirituality present at Briar Cliff University.