It was hardly an auspicious beginning for Holy Name College (formerly Divine Word College and now Holy Name University) when it was founded by Fr. Alphonse G. Lesage, SVD, in June 1947.
Based on records, it was on December 1946 when the idea of opening a Catholic school in Bohol was broached by the Most Rev. Julio D. Rosales who wanted an institution of higher learning providing quality education and instilling Catholic Christian principles. This lofty idea was the inspiration of a man who became the first Catholic Bishop of Tagbilaran.
Bishop Rosales set about on a mission to find a religious congregation to realize the dream of a Catholic school. He found the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). SVD missionaries were already active in their calling in Bohol and had already established the Tubigon Catholic High School (now Holy Cross Academy). Fr. Alphonse Lesage, SVD was director of the school.
Monsignor Rosales approached the SVD fathers with his vision. The SVD fathers agreed and negotiations got started; plans were made and finalized: A Catholic school was born. Fr. Lesage was to become the first director of the first Catholic college in Bohol right in the heart of Tagbilaran.
Holy Name College was formally inaugurated on July 14, 1947. The school opened with 919 student (613 were in high school and 306 in college).
The first school building was located along Libertad Street (now Carlos P. Garcia Avenue). The lot was donated by the Diocese of Tagbilaran through the efforts and generosity of Monsignor Gelacio T. Ramirez (1881-1948), the philanthropic former Vicar General of the Diocese of Tagbilaran. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the first Catholic girl's school in Bohol, St. Joseph's Academy (now Holy Spirit School).
Holy Name College first offered three courses, namely: Liberal Arts, Commercial Science, and Education. In July 1948, HNC received recognition for a four-year high school department, while in 1950 the Elementary Department was recognized as a complete program. In the succeeding years, other courses were offered, namely: College of Law, Collegiate in Home Economics, Elementary Education, Secretarial, Master of Arts in Guidance and Counseling, among others.
From the beginning, Holy Name College was a diocesan school owned by the Diocese of Tagbilaran. In 1963, the SVDs began to negotiate for full ownership of Holy Name College. A year after, the SVDs gave up ownership of Tubigon Catholic High School and St. Paul's Academy of Inabanga, to finally gain full ownership of the institution they nurtured from infancy.
Holy Name College was renamed to become Divine Word College of Tagbilaran, a full-pledged SVD school.
From 1947 to 1970, the school was run by SVD expatriate missionaries. The first Filipino president of the school was Fr. Leo D. Ortiz, SVD. The year was 1970. Since then Filipino missionaries had overseen its growth.
Properties were later acquired to become the main or Lesage Campus in the corner of Lesage and Gallares Streets, the Scanlon Campus along Parras Street, and the Janssen Heights Campus in Dampas, all in the Tagbilaran City.
From less than a thousand students in the 1950s, then Divine Word College of Tagbilaran, grew to more than 9,000 in 1997. It was the year of the school's Golden Jubilee. Fifty years of academic excellence and Christian values that saw the growth of a sleepy town to a vibrant city.
Two thousand and one was a blessed and momentous year.
In September 2001, then Divine Word College of Tagbilaran earned the honorable distinction of belonging to the 32 higher education institutions given full autonomy by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
On November 19 of the same year, DWCT was finally granted the university status! DWCT was renamed as Holy Name University in humble recognition of the seed that started it all.
Holy Name University underscores the continuity of the school's traditions, vision-mission, and goals with the commitment of becoming an alternative regional university to serve the people of Bohol and beyond.