Ursinus College: Wikis


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Ursinus College
Ursinus College logo
Established 1869
Type Private
Endowment $84 million[1]
President John Strassburger
Undergraduates 1,589[1]
Location Collegeville, PA, USA
Campus 170 acres (0.69 km2) [2]
Mascot Bear

Ursinus College is a liberal arts college in Collegeville, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.



To enable students to become independent, responsible and thoughtful individuals through a program of liberal education. That education prepares them to live creatively and usefully, and to provide leadership for their society in an interdependent world.


Bell tower of Bomberger Hall at Ursinus College


  • Members of the German Reformed Church begin plans to establish a college where "young men could be liberally educated under the benign influence of Christianity." These founders were hoping to establish an alternative to the seminary at Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, a school they believed was increasingly heretical to traditional Reformed faith.


  • The college is granted a charter by the Legislature of Pennsylvania to begin operations in its current location on the grounds of Todd’s School (founded 1832) and the adjacent Freeland Seminary (founded 1848). Dr. John Henry Augustus Bomberger, for whom the campus' signature Romanesque building is named (see Gallery, below), served as the college’s first president until his death in 1890. Bomberger had proposed naming the college after Zacharias Ursinus, a 16th-century German theologian. He was also an important figure in the Protestant Reformation, in order to declare the Reformed orthodoxy of the College


  • Instruction begins at the college in September; on October 4, the Zwinglian Literary Society - which was to be resurrected in the early 1990s - was founded. For many years the annual opening meetings of 'Zwing' and its rival society, Schaff, were the major events of the student year


  • Women first admitted, as a direct consequence of the closing of the Pennsylvania Female College in 1880, and a separate literary society for women, The Olevian, is formed



  • The Ruby, Ursinus' yearbook is first published by the Class of 1897 as a tribute to Professor Samuel Vernon Ruby, who collapsed as he was entering Bomberger Hall in 1896 and died in its chapel, surrounded by students and teachers who had gathered there for morning prayers


  • The first aerial photograph of Ursinus is taken, by future college president D.L. Helfferich, and is published in the 1921 Ruby


  • The Reformed Church unites with the Evangelical Synod of North America to form the Evangelical and Reformed Church


  • The Evangelical and Reformed Church merges with the Congregational Christian Churches in 1957 to form the modern-day United Church of Christ. The school is now independent in character and operates on a growing $118,000,000 endowment.

Ursinus Today


Ursinus established its chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1992. At the time, only 242 of the nation's 3,500 colleges and universities had gained acceptance into the elite group. The school is also a member of the Watson Foundation List, Project Pericles, Project DEEP, and the Annapolis Group, which announced on June 19, 2007 that it would no longer participate in U.S. News and World Report's annual rankings.

While students choose from 28 majors and 49 minors, "Biology, Business & Economics, and English are the three majors with the largest numbers of students." [3] Many graduates go on to attend law and medical schools, and 90 percent of those who do apply to these schools are accepted.

Current Students

While the first students enrolled at Ursinus were almost exclusively Pennsylvanians, today the school's 1,565 students come from 25 states and 15 countries. Ten percent are African American, 3% are Latino, and 4% are international students. The school has a 12:1 student/faculty ratio.[4]

Campus and Facilities

Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center

The 170-acre (0.69 km2) campus is 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is also within three hours’ driving distance of New York City, Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC. Notable facilities at Ursinus include the Phillip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art, the Walter W. Marstellar Memorial Observatory, and the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center, which opened in April 2005 with a performance by jazz legend Wynton Marsalis.

The college's Myrin Library has an extensive Pennsylvania German archive and is one of three government repositories in Montgomery County.

Intercollegiate Athletics

In the immediate years following its founding, there were no organized athletics at Ursinus College. Baseball matches held against neighboring towns, hiking along the Perkiomen Creek and in nearby Valley Forge, and skating, bathing and boating in the Perkiomen were popular pastimes for students. Students first organized a tennis club in 1888, and intercollegiate baseball began with play against Swarthmore College, Haverford College, and Muhlenberg College in 1890. The college's first football team was also fielded in 1890.

Patterson Field scoreboard

A field house with shower and locker facilities was first built in 1909, and a "field cage" with facilities for indoor basketball practice was built behind the field house in 1910.

The school is now a member of the Centennial Conference, founded in 1992 by eleven selective colleges in the mid-Atlantic region, including McDaniel, Washington, Bryn Mawr, Dickinson, Haverford, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg, Muhlenberg, and Swarthmore. Ursinus' athletic teams regularly place regionally and nationally; Its field hockey team was the 2006 National Champion for NCAA Division III. The team earned spots in the national championship game three times before, between 1975-77, as a Division I program, and the United States Field Hockey Hall of Fame's permanent home is at the college.

In the fall of 2001, Ursinus students started a Men's Rugby team/club called the Bearcox. The Bearcox is a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union (EPRU) and of USA Rugby. They play in Division III and their practice field is located on Hunsberger Farm.[5]. The Women's Rugby Club, also a member of the EPRU and USA Rugby, has enjoyed recent success winning back-to-back divisional championship titles in 2005 and 2006, resulting in the team being promoted to Division II. Rugby is becoming a dominant sport at Ursinus, recruitment doubling in the last two years.

The college was well-known for many years for its Patterson Field endzone, in which a large sycamore tree grew undisturbed. Ripley's Believe it or Not featured the famous tree for being the only one on an active field of athletic play [6], and the seclusion "of the tree at night for generations afforded lovers a trysting place. Greek organizations initiated pledges into their mysteries under its branches" [7] A new sycamore, growing since 1984 from a seedling taken from the old tree, now stands nearby. [8]

Ursinus and the World Beyond

Outside Recognition

Olin building atrium overlooking Berman Museum plaza


  • During the dedication of the school's Berman Museum of Art, novelist James Michener credits Ursinus as "a college with managers who are bright enough to see that this ought to be done, an industrialist who had the courage to buy the material, and a group of professors and students and citizens of the community who will enjoy this that we are doing today for the next 100 years"


  • Polio vaccine developer Jonas Salk declares that uniting Ursinus' psychology and biology departments under one roof "represents a union of nature and human nature," and calls the school "one of the few colleges integrating these concepts which will serve as a role model for other institutions"


  • Yahoo! Internet Life lists Ursinus as one of the 100 Most Wired Colleges in the United States



  • The Fiske Guide to Colleges assigns Ursinus three bells for academics, three bells for social life and three bells for quality of life
  • The Princeton Review lists Ursinus among the country's 331 best colleges, assigning it three out of four bells for academics and indicating a high degree of professor accessibility and professor interest in students


  • The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accrediting team writes in 1998 that “developments at Ursinus in the last five years are nothing short of astonishing”
  • One of the 50 top colleges in the nation for undergraduate research, according to U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges 2004
  • Forbes.com: Most Connected Campuses. Top 25 [9]


  • The National Survey of Student Engagement report identifies Ursinus as one of 20 (out of 700) campuses nationally which "do an especially good job of educating students", and have a “clear educational purpose and coherent educational philosophy" and an “unshakable focus” on student learning


  • Newsweek Kaplan College Guide names Ursinus one of 25 "Hottest Freshman Year" schools and "one of America's 367 most interesting schools"


  • U.S. News America's Best Colleges gives Ursinus an "A+ rating for B students", commending its "first-rate programs" and calling it one of the country's “Best Liberal Arts Colleges" (53rd among its 215 peers in terms of graduation and retention)
  • The Princeton Review identifies Ursinus as one of the nation's "Best 361 Colleges"[10]
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Ursinus' Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center "comes alive at night, and the building's showpiece space, a three-floor atrium with a glass-lined south face-dazzles from within"
  • Jeffrey Sachs calls the college "very proudly and very successfully committed to the power of ideas"

Notable Faculty

  • Raymond Dodge, experimental psychologist: Appointed Professor of Philosophy in 1896
  • Royal Meeker, statistician: Taught at Ursinus from 1906 until his appointment by President Wilson to be Commissioner of Labor Statistics in 1913. He later served (1923-24) as Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry
  • John Mauchly, computer pioneer and creator of the ENIAC: Was a faculty member at Ursinus from 1933 to 1941, working at Ursinus's science labs in Pfahler Hall, a building which still stands on campus (see Gallery, below)
  • Deborah Poritz, former Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court: Taught at Ursinus in the late 1960s
  • Joseph Melrose, former U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone: Ambassador-in-Residence of the school's International Relations Program

Notable Alumni and Former Students

Curtis Hall dormitory. J.D. Salinger lived on the third floor during his time at Ursinus


  • Ursinus College Catalog. Ursinus College: January 1991.
  • Yost, Calvin Daniel. Ursinus College: A History of Its First Hundred Years. Ursinus College: 1985.

External links


Coordinates: 40°11′36″N 75°27′21″W / 40.1934°N 75.4559°W / 40.1934; -75.4559



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