St. Augustine College is an independent, bilingual (dual-language) institution of higher education created under the auspices of the Episcopal Diocese to make the American system of higher education accessible to a diverse student population with emphasis on those of Hispanic descent; to strengthen ethnic identity; to reinforce cultural interaction; and to build a bridge to fill cultural, educational, and socio-economic gaps.
On October 7, 1980, the Illinois State Board of Higher Education granted operating authority to the first bilingual institution of higher education in Illinois: St. Augustine College. This educational setting is unique in Illinois, and one of a few in the country. It came into existence as a result of years of work, observation, and research, and is based on more than ten years of community work performed by the Spanish Episcopal Services, an educational agency that was created under the auspices of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago by Father Carlos A. Plazas, Ph. D., in 1970. The College founders reacted to observation and research that indicated that a large number of Hispanic adults, because of specific circumstances, could avail themselves of dual-language (bilingual) academic and vocational career training. These findings also indicated that many Hispanic adults were capable of actively participating in four-year degree programs, but needed educational assistance to be able to compete at this level of education. Since there were no institutions of higher education to respond to these educational needs and provide opportunities for dual-language learning, the Board of Directors of Spanish Episcopal Services elected to support the formation of St. Augustine College.