First conceived of by President of the University, Rev. Paul Waldschmidt, CSC, and Rev. Ambrose Wheeler, CSC, the Salzburg program began in the 1964-1965 school year. Highlighting the interaction of Christianity with the other cultures of Europe, the international program was the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and the first international program of the University. In the next ten years, the program developed under a number of program and on-site directors including Rev. Ambrose Wheeler, Rev. Michael O’Brien, and Rev. Robert Beh.
In its second decade, the program thrived amidst a number of remarkable events in Europe. Having already added a number of political science courses to the program’s curriculum, longtime Austrian professor, Dr. Franz Horner, was called to assist with revisions to the Austrian Constitution in 1977. Students of the class of 1979 were able to witness the installation of Pope John Paul II. From the comfort of their University campus abroad, Salzburgers experienced the many political and social changes of this period first hand.
From 1985 to 1995, Salzburgers continued to experience changes to the program and the world around them. The celebration of the program’s 25th anniversary occurred amidst the unraveling of the Soviet Union and the momentous fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989. Throughout the decade, the program strengthened its University ties as well as forging new bonds with the community. The stateside campus radio, KDUP, recorded their first Christmas show in December 1991, allowing friends and family to chime in with well wishes for Salzburgers. Rev. Michael DeLaney also coordinated the first local service project, helping students reach out to the Austrian community.
The decade of 1995 to 2005 saw opportunities and improvements to the center. In 1995, with the help of the Zohrer family, the University moved into a new facility at Marianstrasse. This process culminated with the dedication of the center in October of 1996. With a fresh place to study and live, Salzburgers continued to thrive in Austria and back on the Bluff.
Fifty years of changes to the center, curriculum, professors, and technology have made the Salzburg program quite different than when it began in 1964. However, the program continues to provide a unique experience, form close ties between friends and students, and examine art, language, and history of Salzburg, Austria and beyond. Thus despite five decades of change, the Salzburg Program remains much as it was: An opportunity for students to live in and learn from another culture.