Seal of Ursinus College
|Motto||Super Firmum Fundamentum Dei|
Motto in English
|On the Firm Foundation of God|
|Undergraduates||1,435 (Fall 2018)|
|Campus||Suburban 170 acres (0.69 km2)|
|Colors||Red, Old Gold, and Black|
|Athletics||25 Varsity Teams|
NCAA Division III
1867: 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.
1869: 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 proposed naming the college after Zacharias Ursinus, a 16th-century German theologian and an important figure in the Protestant Reformation.
1870: Instruction begins at the college in September; on October 4, the Zwinglian Literary Society was founded. For many years the annual opening meetings of "Zwing" and its rival society, Schaff, were the major events of the student year.
1881: 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. Like Zwingli and Schaff, Olevian Hall on campus is named in honor of its respective historical society.
1893: The first meeting of the college's alumni association is held at the Colonnade Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1896: In 1896, the town of Freeland officially incorporated as the Borough of Collegeville, the name the Pennsylvania Railroad had given the place in 1869—because of the Pennsylvania Female College; and not, as many believe, because of the then brand-new Ursinus. However, in years since, the “college” in Collegeville has come to mean Ursinus.
1897: 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.
1921: The first aerial photograph of Ursinus is taken, by future college president D.L. Helfferich, and is published in the 1921 Ruby.
1938: J.D. Salinger enrolls at Ursinus for the fall semester. As quoted from the Ursinus website, "The late 30s also saw the arrival of someone who was perhaps Ursinus’ most famous student ever: Jerome D. Salinger. Gallant and slim, he swooped in from New York City for a few months in 1938, wrote a zany column for the student newspaper, The Skipped Diploma, dated a few of the coeds, then dropped out at Thanksgiving. He went on to great fame as author of The Catcher in the Rye, and short stories appearing in The New Yorker".
1942: Ursinus sees its male enrollment drop in half due to the start of World War II, falling from 535 to 350. During the war, Ursinus made a concerted effort to bring in military students from across the country, even acquiring a Naval V-12 unit.
1989: The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art opens on the Ursinus campus.
1993: Ursinus joins the Centennial Conference at its inception, a regional athletic conference, consisting of Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, Johns Hopkins University, Franklin & Marshall College and others.
1995: The college appoints Dr. John Strassburger as its 12th president, the first president from outside the Ursinus alumni group. Dr. Strassburger was an American Historian, a graduate of Bates College, Oxford University, and Princeton University. Under President Strassburger, Ursinus initiated the Summer Fellows program in which selected students worked on individualized research projects with faculty advisors. During President Strassburger's tenure as president Ursinus became affiliated with numerous prestigious groups such as the Annapolis Group, the Watson Foundation, the Kemper Scholars group and Project Pericles.
2011: Dr. Bobby Fong, a graduate of Harvard and UCLA and former president of Butler University, began his tenure as the 13th president of Ursinus on July 1, 2011. For the third year in a row Ursinus is designated as a Top Ten Up and Coming College by U.S. News & World Report.
2014: Dr. Fong dies suddenly of natural causes at his home in Collegeville. Lucien T. (Terry) Winegar, the Dean and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, is appointed Interim President.
2015: S. Brock Blomberg, Dean of the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance at Claremont McKenna College, is named 17th president of Ursinus.
Ursinus College is independent in character with historical ties to its religious past, and operates with a $138,800,000 endowment as of June 30, 2018.
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. While students can choose from 60 courses of study, "biology, business and economics, and English are the three majors with the largest numbers of students."
The Common Intellectual Experience is Ursinus' unique seminar course required of all first-year students and is a requisite for the bachelor's degree. The Common Intellectual Experience (referred to as CIE) is composed of two semester-long seminar courses which seek to investigate four of the central questions of the traditional liberal arts education: What should matter to me? How should we live together? How can we understand the world? What will I do? The courses are characterized by students in all CIE classes discussing the course texts at the same time, and studying the works in both the seminar room and through additional avenues of scientific and artistic exploration. The course is taught by faculty in all disciplines and the assigned texts and materials are altered yearly, allowing students and faculty a mutual experience of discovery and critical engagement. CIE, in combination with residential clustering of first-years, is meant to foster a sense of togetherness for incoming students, and to create introspective discussions on the core questions beyond the classroom. To further this environment, there was also an experiment conducted in which the students in one CIE class lived on the same hall together. This was dubbed the Delphi Project and was used to determine how physical proximity might generate more discussion and creativity with ideas. Ursinus also offers additional higher-level CIE classes that go beyond the original questions, extending the discussion into new domains. Unlike the requisite classes where the questions remain constant, the questions posed by the higher level classes change from semester-to-semester. CIE classes are often paired with a writing fellow, a student trained with background in writing rhetoric. The writing fellow will meet with the CIE freshman to help them with their papers in the course. CIE Fellows also work with freshmen students to further explore and discuss CIE texts and themes.
In September 2012, Ursinus and Columbia University were awarded a joint grant from the Mellon Foundation to work together on the core of their seminar courses - Ursinus College's CIE, and Columbia University's Core Curriculum. The $300,000 grant will allow Ursinus faculty with prior experience teaching CIE classes to work with, and mentor, post-doctoral students at Columbia, will create post-doctoral fellowship program at Ursinus, and will also support campus visits and guest lectures from Columbia faculty who have expertise in the subject matter of CIE.
While the first students enrolled at Ursinus were almost exclusively Pennsylvanians, today the school's 1,500 students come from 35 states and 12 countries. Twenty-two percent are students of color and two percent are international students. The school has a 12:1 student/faculty ratio.
The Ursinus College Greek community consists of six sororities (Kappa Delta Kappa, Phi Alpha Psi, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Tau Sigma Gamma, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Omega Chi), five fraternities (Alpha Phi Epsilon, Kappa Alpha Psi, Zeta Chi, Phi Kappa Sigma, and Sigma Pi) and two co-educational fraternities (Delta Pi Sigma and Pi Omega Delta). The Ursinus College Inter-Greek Council serves as the elected governing body of all social Greek organizations.
The Leadership Development and Student Activities Office provides the student body with leadership opportunities through its more than 100 student clubs and organizations. Ursinus College clubs and organizations range from student government to community service, academic honor societies, political clubs and intramural sports. Ursinus is also home to a student-run newspaper, The Grizzly - the name taken from the Latin root of Zacharias Ursinus' surname (ursus translating as 'bear') - as well as The Lantern, one of the oldest, continuously produced student literary journals.
Ursinus is a member of the Centennial Conference, founded in 1993, and which now contains eleven private colleges in the mid-Atlantic region, including Bryn Mawr, McDaniel, Johns Hopkins, Dickinson, Haverford, Franklin and Marshall, Swarthmore, Gettysburg, Muhlenberg, and Washington.
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 the nearby area that is now Valley Forge National Historical Park, and skating, bathing and boating in the Perkiomen were popular pastimes for students. In fact, students used to be able to rent canoes and fishing rods from the same location where they can now rent bikes. Students then 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. 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 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. A new sycamore, growing since 1984 from a seedling taken from the old tree, stood nearby until a turf field project required its removal in 2011.
In 1974, the NCAA Award of Valor was presented to the 1973 basketball team. Every member of the team had entered a burning building, with their combined efforts leading to the rescue of 14 persons. In the 2003–04 season, senior shooting guard Dennis Stanton led all NCAA Men's Basketball scorers, averaging 32.6 points per game.
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. Ursinus' women's lacrosse team were the 1986, 1989 and 1990 NCAA Division III Women's lacrosse champions and the 1985, 1987 and 1991 runners-up.
Notable facilities at Ursinus include: