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Wilson College (Pennsylvania): Wikis


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Wilson College
(Arts and Sciences)
Established 1869
Type Private
President Dr. Lorna Duphiney Edmundson
Faculty 40 full-time
Location Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Campus Rural, approximately 300 acres (1.2 km2)
Colors Blue and white
Nickname Phoenix
Mascot The Phoenix
Athletics 7 NCAA teams

Wilson College, founded 1869, is a private, Presbyterian-related, liberal arts women's college located on a 300-acre (1.2 km2) campus in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, United States. It was founded by two Presbyterian ministers, but named for its first major donor, Sarah Wilson of nearby St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania.

Wilson College has about 840 students from 16 U.S. states and 22 foreign countries. It's known for its Women With Children program, which allows single mothers to bring their children to live with them campus, as well as for its veterinary medical technician and equestrian programs, and its Fulton Center for Sustainable Living, which operates a 7-acre (28,000 m2) organic farm and a CSA (community-supported agriculture) that supplies community families and others with fresh, organic produce. Another special feature of Wilson College are the rich traditions that form an important part of campus life.



The college was founded by the Rev. Tryon Edwards and the Rev. James W. Wightman, pastors of Presbyterian churches in nearby Hagerstown, Maryland, and Greencastle, Pennsylvania. The original charter was granted by the Pennsylvania Legislature on March 24, 1869. Wilson was one of the first colleges in the U.S. to accept only female students and was named for Sarah Wilson (1795-1871), who gave two large donations to help get the college started. Anna J. McKeag served as Wilson’s first woman president from 1911 to 1915.

In 1967 the Wilson College sailing team won the first Intercollegiate Sailing Association national championship held in a women's event (dinghy).[1]

In the 1970s, two tropical storms, Agnes in 1972 and Eloise in 1975, caused flood damage to low-lying buildings on campus.

Although it nearly closed its doors in 1979, a lawsuit organized by students, faculty, parents and an extremely loyal alumnae association succeeded in allowing the college to remain open, making it one of the few colleges to survive a scheduled closing. (It subsequently adopted the Phoenix as its mascot, to symbolize the college's survival.) Wilson has remained open as a women's college despite the trend towards turning women's colleges into coeducational institutions.

In 1982, Wilson began offering a continuing studies program to meet the needs of adults seeking post-secondary education. In 1996, the college was one of the first in the nation to offer an on-campus residential educational experience for single mothers with children. Beginning in summer 2006, Wilson offered its first graduate-degree program, a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) for certified elementary school teachers.

The first men to attend and to graduate from Wilson entered at the end of World War II. Men later became able to earn degrees from Wilson through the continuing education program, although the primary emphasis at the college remained its College For Women.


Wilson College Main Building on a 1921 post card. Norland Hall on the left, Edgar Hall on the right, and what is now Lenfest Commons behind them.

The Wilson College campus is located at the edge of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on both sides of the Conococheague Creek. The property was originally bought from Alexander McClure, whose home Norland, had been burnt in 1864 by Confederates under the orders of General Jubal Early. The home was rebuilt before being sold to the college. [1]


The college offers 27 majors, 23 areas of concentration, and 32 minors. Majors include Accounting, Biology, Business and Economics, Chemistry, Elementary Education, English, Environmental Studies, Equestrian Studies, Exercise and Sports Science, Fine Arts, Foreign Language, History and Political Science, International Studies, Mass Communications, Mathematics, Philosophy and Religion, Psychobiology, Psychology, Sociology, and Veterinary Medical Technology.

Facilities include the Penn Hall Equestrian Center, Helen M. Beach Veterinary Medical Center, and Fulton Center for Sustainable Living that operates an organic farm and demonstrates and educates about ways to live a sustainable life.

Student Life

The college offers almost two dozen organized student groups ranging from Black Student Union to *Muhibbah ("unity among nations") Club. The modern dance troupe, Orchesis, puts on a performance every spring and fall, and there are periodic performances from the Kittochtinny Players, the drama club, usually including a spring production and "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" improv comedy. The People's Republic of Art, the college's art club, takes frequent field trips to see art shows in the surrounding areas.

Additionally, the college provides students with opportunities for various volunteer activities through its Alternative Spring Break and the Curran Scholar program.



Traditions are an important part of student life at Wilson. Sarah Wilson Week, held early in the fall semester, is a sort of spirit week in which freshmen are inducted into either the Evens or the Odds (according to their graduation years) and form bonds with their "Big Sisters" in their sister class and their "Sophomore Buddies" in a rival class. The Evens and the Odds are rivals, who participate in such things as color wars (Odds colors are red and black, Evens colors are green and blue) and song wars, led by Even and Odd songleaders. A formal dinner and dance are held each winter (White Dinner) and spring (Spring Fling), and both have their own traditions. On one of the first warm days of spring, the Dean of Faculty calls Dean's Day by ringing the Edgar Hall bell to let students know that classes are cancelled so they can enjoy the warm weather.

The evening before the last day of classes is known as Senior Night. According to the tradition, if the professors cannot get into their offices then they will not be able to hold their last day of classes. Students first "decorate" the campus and their professors' offices, and then barricade themselves in the academic buildings, armed with waterguns and water balloons. Professors arrive the next morning armed with their own waterguns and ballons and storm the office buildings, trying to get into their offices so that they can hold classes.



External links

Coordinates: 39°56′53″N 77°39′11″W / 39.948°N 77.653°W / 39.948; -77.653


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