Phase I

The entire USF community—students, alumni, trustees, employees, neighbors and friends—participated in the Phase I planning process. Plans were discussed in depth at several meetings and community input was incorporated into the plan whenever possible.

Phase 1 includes more than $20 million in renovations focused on providing students with improved learning, living and spiritual space:


For images of the ongoing master plan, please click here

Marian Hall Renovation

In just 100 days over the summer of 2005, Marian Hall was renovated to include new bathrooms; study lounges with computers and wireless Internet connection on every floor; kitchen; laundry facilities on every floor; and computer access in every room.

Motherhouse Renovation

The University of St. Francis purchased the historic Motherhouse, home to its founders the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, at 520 Plainfield Road in 2004. Built in 1881, the Motherhouse was the first home to the university and has again become a center of campus activity.

The first renovations, completed in fall 2005, created classroom and state-of-the-art laboratory space for the College of Nursing and Allied Health, along with conference space and student housing.

In fall 2007, student center spaces and additional student housing opened. The student center space includes a game room, Three Oaks Bistro sandwich/coffee shop, the Fireside Lounge and a cyber café.

The Three Oaks Bistro, named for the tree that greets visitors at the quad entry to the Motherhouse, is open to the community.

Students can study at tables, work on computers or gather in groups to watch television in the Fireside Lounge and cyber café.

The residence hall space is particularly exciting, with many rooms having uniquely shaped windows, some like the gothic-shaped window seen in the USF logo. Amenities include modern bathrooms, laundry facilities and study and lounge spaces on each floor. All rooms have wireless Internet connection. The residence hall space includes three apartments, nine single rooms, 15 double rooms, three suites and one triple room.

St. Joseph Chapel was updated with paint and air conditioning. It was rededicated on Founders’ Day Opening Mass, Sept. 5, 2007. A meditation space for multi-denominational use is located near the chapel along with University Ministry offices.

Work remains to be completed on the center of the second floor, which will house office space and a heritage room.

School of Arts and Design at the Rialto Arts District

The University of St. Francis has partnered with the Rialto Square Theatre, City of Joliet and Will County to move the university’s School of Art and Design to the Rialto Arts District in downtown Joliet, creating a distinctive educational experience and vibrant artist community that will enhance the redevelopment of the downtown and the image of the city, its City Center and county seat.
The university will relocate its instructional art program to 16,454 square feet of space at the Rialto in summer 2009 to be ready for the fall semester of the 2009-10 academic year.

An 1,800-square-foot gallery, at the corner of Van Buren and Scott streets, will be dedicated to the university arts program.

Campus Beautification

Several beautification projects have been undertaken, and include the addition of a fountain and paver brick walkway from the parking lot to the Motherhouse. Many of the bricks have been engraved with messages from the USF community. Bricks may still be purchased. Parking lots have been landscaped in accordance with input from residents. Landscaping has also been enhanced in areas around Tower Hall and on the quad through 1% Day efforts by USF employees. 1% Day projects are low cost projects that have a big impact. Periodically, USF employees will dedicate a day to projects such as landscaping, painting, cleaning, etc. to help beautify the campus.

Property Acquisition

The university has purchased several neighborhood properties as part of Phase 1.

The University of St Francis is committed to working with property owners in reaching a fair price that reflects market values. While the university may contact property owners to gauge interest in selling, most sales have been initiated by the sellers.

The university pays taxes on properties that are not used to fulfill our educational mission.

In some cases, residents have rented their houses back from the university while building or waiting to move to a new home.

The university has no authority regarding the Right of Eminent Domain to acquire land for university use.

Many properties have been taken down for parking or other use. Those that remain may be rented. The university does not rent houses to undergraduate students.

The university is committed to a “good neighbor policy” and has, in conjunction with the City of Joliet and the Cathedral Area Preservation Association, established standards for maintaining its residential properties.

University of St. Francis properties list


As with all urban universities, parking is a constant challenge. The university is committed to adding parking in each stage of its Campus Master Plan. The university has 420 parking spaces. During Phase 1, parking lot D (on Taylor Street) was added with 38 spaces. Fifty spaces were added to lot B at Wilcox and Douglas for 135 total spaces. Five spaces were added to the Motherhouse lot for 43 total.