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Widener University
Widener Seal
MottoMens Sana In Corpore Sano
(Sound Mind in Sound Body)
Established1821, Preparatory school
1862, College
Endowment$73 million (2012) [1]
PresidentJames T. Harris III
Academic staff326 full-time
Undergraduates3,204 (2,790 day, 414 evening)
Postgraduates3,260 (1,598 law students)
LocationChester, Pennsylvania, USA
CampusUrban, 108 acres (.44 km²)
ColorsWidener Blue      and Gold     
Athletics20 varsity teams, Division III (MAC)
NicknamePride (introduced in 2006), formerly the Pioneers and the Cadets (when PMC)
Widener Logo

Widener University is a private, coeducational university located in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Its main campus sits on 108 acres (.44 km²), just 14 miles (23 km) southwest of Philadelphia. The university has three other campuses: two in Pennsylvania (Harrisburg and Exton) and one in Wilmington, Delaware.

About 3,300 undergraduates and 3,300 graduate students attend Widener in eight degree-granting schools. The university offers associate's, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in areas ranging from traditional liberal arts to professional programs.

Widener was founded in 1821 and has undergone several name changes. It was known as Pennsylvania Military College after 1892, and adopted the Widener name in 1972.

The Carnegie Foundation classifies Widener as a Doctoral/Research University and a Community Engagement Institution. Widener was ranked #181 in the National Universities category by US News & World Report for 2012.[3]


Founded in 1821 as a preparatory school for boys in Wilmington, Delaware, the institution now known as Widener University moved to Pennsylvania in 1862, and was granted collegiate powers and privileges via universal charter by the Pennsylvania legislature in April of that year. It was known from 1892 to 1972 as Pennsylvania Military College, though it had officially become PMC Colleges in 1966 when a nonmilitary, coeducational component was added. In 1972, the name Widener College was adopted after the prominent Widener family of Philadelphia, and the Corps of Cadets disbanded (an Army ROTC program still exists). Graduate programs were introduced in 1966 and the School of Law acquired in 1975.

In recognition of its comprehensive offerings, Widener College became Widener University in 1979. Today, Widener is a four-campus university offering more than 80 programs of study.

The Old Main and Chemistry Building were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[4]


Throughout its long history, the university has undergone several name changes. The following table details the various names Widener has gone under as well as any significant organizational changes that occurred during each period.

1821–1846 The Bullock School for Boys, founded by John Bullock in Wilmington, Delaware
1846–1853 The Alsop School for Boys
1853–1859 Hyatt's Select School for Boys
  • 1858: military instruction introduced
1859–1862 Delaware Military Academy
1862–1892 Pennsylvania Military Academy
  • 1862: relocated from Wilmington to West Chester, Pennsylvania
  • 1868: relocated to present location in Chester, Pennsylvania
1892–1966 Pennsylvania Military College (also known as PMC)
1966–1972 PMC Colleges (for Pennsylvania Military College and Penn Morton College, the civilian component)
  • 1966: offered nursing program with College of Nursing of Crozer Foundation; first women admitted; first graduate program introduced (engineering)
  • 1970: School of Nursing starts
1972–1979 Widener College
  • 1972: Corps of Cadets disbanded, academic programs organized into 4 schools: Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Nursing, and Management
  • 1975: Acquired Delaware Law School
  • 1976: Delaware Campus opens as part of merger with Brandywine Junior College
1979- Widener University
  • 1980: University College program (undergraduate evening school) starts
  • 1981: School of Hotel and Restaurant Management opens (renamed School of Hospitality Management in 1996)
  • 1989: Harrisburg Campus opens
  • 1993: School of Human Service Professions begins
  • 2004: Exton Campus opens


Widener consists of four campuses, the main campus in Chester, Pennsylvania, plus campuses in Wilmington, Delaware; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Exton, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1866 after the school moved to Chester, the 108-acre (0.44 km2) Main Campus consists of 97 buildings and serves all undergraduate day students as well as University College students. It also contains all graduate programs (business, education, engineering, nursing, social work, physical therapy, and clinical psychology) except for the School of Law.

Opening in 1976, the Delaware Campus consists of 16 buildings across 40 acres (160,000 m2) and is 12 miles (19 km) from the Main Campus. It contains the School of Law (shared with the Harrisburg Campus) as well as the Legal Education Institute. Some classes for University College students and graduate business students are also held here. The 21-acre (85,000 m2) Harrisburg Campus, opening in 1989, contains the School of Law (shared with the Delaware Campus) and has graduate programs in nursing and social work. Starting in 2004, the Exton Campus is the newest Widener campus, located in a business park 25 miles (40 km) from the Main Campus. It primarily serves University College students and contains Widener's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) which provides continuing education programs for retired adults.


Widener's comprehensive offerings range from liberal arts to professional programs and include over 50 undergraduate majors, 30 minors and more than 30 graduate programs of study. In particular, programs in engineering, computer science, business, nursing and hospitality management have generated the most praise from students according to a survey conducted by The Princeton Review.[5] Widener boasts an undergraduate student to faculty ratio of 12:1 with 90% of the full-time faculty having doctorates or the highest degree in their field.[2] In addition, class sizes are kept small with 60% of all classes containing less than 20 students.[6]


The university comprises the following schools:

  • College of Arts and Sciences: The largest undergraduate school at Widener provides 25 majors and 26 minors within its three divisions: Humanities, Science and Social Science. The college is also home to pre-professional programs in law and medicine. All undergraduates within the college fulfill general education requirements in all three divisions as well as take an interdisciplinary values seminar during their junior or senior year. The college mainly consists of undergraduate programs although a few master's programs do exist (including MPA and MALS programs). The most popular undergraduate majors within the college are psychology, criminal justice, computer science, biology, communication studies, government & politics and English.[7]
  • School of Business Administration: The School of Business Administration, accredited by the AACSB, provides undergraduate programs in management, accounting, international business and economics as well as graduate programs in information systems, business administration, financial planning, and human resources. The school's MBA program offers dual programs in engineering (MEng/MBA with the School of Engineering), law (JD/MBA with the School of Law), clinical psychology (PsyD/MBA with the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology) and medicine (MD/MBA with Thomas Jefferson University).
  • School of Engineering: The school offers ABET-accredited undergraduate programs in chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering as well as a major in Biomedical engineering (Fall 2011) and a minor in bio-engineering. Master's (MEng) programs exist in all of the same fields in addition to engineering management and dual specialization. A dual MEng/MBA program also exists with the School of Business Administration.
  • School of Hospitality Management: One of the earliest schools dedicated to hospitality management, the school provides undergraduate (B.S.) and graduate (M.S.) study in areas such as hotel and resort management, private club management, tourism, and casino and gaming operations. Its facilities include fully equipped production and demonstration kitchens as well as a restaurant, the Heintz Dining Room, open to the public. The Institute for Gaming and Racing, established in 2007, is the latest endeavor and offers research and educational programs for employees in the casino and racing industries.
  • School of Human Service Professions: This school is a collection of professional programs in education, social work, clinical psychology and physical therapy. It comprises the following academic units:
    • Center for Education: The center provides bachelor's, master's and doctorate programs in education within a variety of areas including elementary education, special education, educational psychology, human sexuality and school administration. The center serves as the home of the only nationally accredited doctoral program in human sexuality, having acquired the program from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999.[8]
    • Center for Social Work Education: The center provides bachelor's (BSW), master's (MSW) and doctorate programs (PhD) in social work.
    • Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology: Founded in 1970 by Hahnemann University's medical school, the program moved to Widener in 1989 and became the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology. The institute houses the second oldest PsyD program in the United States.[9] The PsyD program is accredited by the APA and allows a variety of concentrations including family therapy, forensic psychology, and organizational psychology. The institute is also home to the Neuropsychology Assessment Center and the Biofeedback Clinic and Certification Center which provides services and treatment to the public.
    • Institute for Physical Therapy Education: The institute offers a full-time 3-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. The program is available for entry-level students as well as transitional students who are already licensed physical therapists. A pre-physical therapy program exists for undergraduates who wish to pursue the DPT degree.
  • School of Law: The school is home to an ABA accredited J.D. program and operates on two campuses, Wilmington, Delaware and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
  • School of Nursing: Accredited by the NLN, the school has bachelor's (BSN), master's (MSN) and doctorate (PhD) programs in nursing. A part-time, evening or weekend BSN program and accelerated programs for RNs are also available.
  • University College: The University College serves part-time adult undergraduate students and offers both associate's and bachelor's degrees. Classes are held during the evenings or weekends and focus mainly on professional areas such as nursing, business, education and information systems. The college also contains the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute which provides continuing education classes to retired adults.

Rankings and classifications

In 2010, Washington Monthly magazine ranked Widener 56th out of all national universities in the country.[10] These rankings are based on how well a university benefits the country including such factors as promoting social mobility, scientific and humanistic research, and service, including ROTC and the Peace Corps.

The 2012 Best Colleges list from U. S. News and World Report ranked Widener 181st among national universities.[11] It also ranks Widener's undergraduate engineering program 79th among all programs whose highest engineering degree is a bachelor's or master's.[12] Out of the 262 national universities ranked, Widener is 55th in the category "Highest Proportion of Classes Under 20 Students".[6] The U.S. News and World Report's 2008 Best Graduate Schools ranks several of Widener's graduate programs: clinical psychology → #145,[13] health care management → #49,[14] nursing → #141,[15] physical therapy → #173,[16] and social work → #140.[17]

The Carnegie Foundation classifies Widener as a Doctoral/Research University whose undergraduate population is highly residential and selective.[18] It also one of 76 institutions classified as a Community Engagement Institution; only 2 other schools in the Philadelphia region share this classification, University of Pennsylvania and Bryn Mawr College.[19]

Notable programs

Cooperative education
A co-op program is available as an option for all undergraduate students within the School of Engineering and School of Business Administration as well as computer science majors in the College of Arts and Sciences. This allows a student to still earn their degree in 4 years while gaining 1-year of work experience.

All students in the School of Hospitality Management are required to enroll in a co-op for a single semester (16 weeks) during their junior or senior year. The co-op work is full-time and counts as course credit. The school also has its own restaurant, the Heintz Dining Room, which is open to the public and run by the students.

Undergraduate research
All undergraduate students in engineering and computer science are required to complete a year-long research and design project during their final year. The projects are usually done in teams with a faculty advisor and culminates in a final presentation and demonstration. Other science majors have the option to participate in research with faculty members. This research is often presented at local or national conferences as well as published in scientific journals.

Honors program
The Honors Program in General Education consists of approximately 200 undergraduate students and provides smaller, seminar courses that fulfill the university's general education requirements. Students in the program must take at least 5 honors courses and also attend certain cultural events held on campus or in Philadelphia. Students who complete the program are awarded a Certificate of Honors in General Education at graduation. Admission to the program is based on the student's SAT scores, high school GPA and ranking.

The Army ROTC program traces its origins back to when the university was originally a military college. Today, the Army ROTC program offers 2, 3 and 4-year scholarships as well as traditional instruction in military science. The program also sponsors students from the following local area schools: Villanova University, Penn State Abington, West Chester University, Cheyney University, Penn State Brandywine and Neumann College. About 25% of students in the program are nursing majors. The university produced more Army Nurses than any other school in the 2006-2007 academic year.[20]

Widener students can also participate in the Air Force ROTC program at Saint Joseph's University.

Presidential Service Corps (PSC) / Bonner Leaders Program
Widener University is a member of the Bonner Foundation and therefore devoted to civic engagement. PSC members are undergraduates who contribute their time to the Chester community through service and are examples of Widener's civic engagement strategies. Incoming members to the PSC are required to complete 300 hours of service each year and receive a $5,000 scholarship towards their tution. Members are chosen based on academic performance in high school and civic leadership. Only 15 members out of the incoming freshman class are selected to join the program.[21]


Widener has 20 varsity teams (10 for men and 10 for women) participating in Division III within the Commonwealth and Middle Atlantic Conferences (MAC). Formally known as the Pioneers, their nickname changed to the Pride in the Fall of 2006, based on a student poll.[22] Widener sports teams include:

Athletic achievements

The football team has had recent success winning the MAC championship in 2007, the ECAC Southwest Bowl in 2006[23] and the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl in 2005.[24] Its greatest success has been winning the NCAA Division III National Championship in 1977 and 1981 under long-time coach Bill Manlove and reaching the semi-finals in 1979, 1980, and 2000. Widener also reached the Quarter-Finals of the tournament in 2012 before losing to eventual NCAA D-III National Champion, Mount Union by a lopsided 72-17 score.[25] Additionally, Widener football has won 17 MAC championships, the most of any team in the conference. Billy "White Shoes" Johnson played for Widener in the early 70s. He went on to be an all-pro NFL player and was selected to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team as well as the College Football Hall of Fame.

The men's basketball team has won 15 MAC titles and appeared in the NCAA Division III Tournament 17 times, advancing to the "Sweet 16" in 1987 and 2006, the "Final 4" in 1985 and the championship game in 1978.[25] The men's lacrosse team has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 8 times since 2000 and has won 12 MAC titles since 1996.[25] The men's swimming team has won 12 MAC titles since 1994.[25]

Athletic facilities

The Schwartz Athletic Center is home to basketball, swimming, indoor track and volleyball. It houses a newly renovated 25-yard (23 m) by 25 meter 10-lane competition swimming pool, squash/racquetball courts and administrative offices for the athletic department. Schwartz is also home to the new Wellness Center, opened in April 2006 to provide the faculty, staff and students with additional recreational and fitness opportunities. In addition to exercise equipment, the Wellness Center provides fitness classes and a 24-foot (7.3 m) climbing wall.

Opening in 1994, Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium seats over 4,000 people and has a turf playing field surrounded by an 8-lane track. The stadium houses the football, soccer, men's lacrosse, and outdoor track & field teams. In addition, Edith R. Dixon Field, opening in 2005, houses the women's field hockey and lacrosse teams. It sports an artificial turf, lighting and a scoreboard. The field is also used for the intramural teams.

The Philadelphia Eagles held their summer training camp on Widener's campus between 1973 and 1979. The 2006 movie Invincible depicts the campus during the Eagles' 1976 summer training camp.[26] Since 2006, the Philadelphia Soul have held practices at Widener as well.

Student life


Widener enrolls approximately 6,600 total students including 3,300 undergraduate and 3,300 graduate students. Among full-time undergraduate students, the male/female ratio is nearly 1:1 (51% male, 49% female). 48% of undergraduates choose to live on the Main Campus while the remaining students commute. Approximately 54% of all full-time undergraduates are from Pennsylvania with 45% coming from the rest of the country (predominantly Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia) and 1% originating from outside the U.S.[27] The acceptance rate for undergraduate applicants in Fall 2007 was 66%.[7]

Student clubs and events

The university has over 100 student clubs including honor societies, religious organizations, media groups and special interest clubs. Greek Week, Spring Carnival and Homecoming are among the popular events on campus.[28] Graduate students are currently not allowed to participate in club sports activities.

WDNR is the student-run campus radio station playing a variety of music including hip-hop, rock, metal and punk, along with a sports talk call-in show. It also broadcasts local football games. Other media outlets include the weekly newspaper, The Dome, a student literary journal and a television station.

Greek life

Widener has six fraternities and five sororities.[29] Approximately 12% of all undergraduates are members.[28] Widener's Greek organizations include:


Widener is one of only 22 colleges that is a member of Project Pericles, an organization promoting social responsibility and addressing civic apathy among students. It is also one of only 76 institutions classified as a Community Engagement Institution by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Only two other schools in the Philadelphia region share this classification - University of Pennsylvania and Bryn Mawr College.[19]

Widener has several initiatives aimed at benefiting the surrounding community. These include:

  • Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center — The school opened the center in 2006 to provide consulting and educational programs to local small businesses and entrepreneurs. It is one of only 18 in the state and one of 3 in the Philadelphia region (with Temple University and University of Pennsylvania).
  • Philadelphia Speakers Series — Since 2004, Widener has sponsored this series which has had such notable speakers as Henry Kissinger, Walter Cronkite and Dave Barry.
  • University Technology Park — A joint project started in 1999 between the university and Crozer-Keystone Health System to foster small business opportunities focusing on health care, science and technology. It currently consists of two buildings (with three more planned) on 20 acres (81,000 m2) and is located directly in between the Main Campus and Crozer-Keystone Medical Center.
  • Widener University Observatory — The observatory has free public telescope viewings throughout the school year hosted by the physics and astronomy department.

Charter school

In 2006, the university established a new charter school near the Main Campus in Chester to serve local residents from kindergarten to grade 5. Named the Widener Partnership Charter School, the school utilizes the university's programs in education, social work, nursing and clinical psychology. This collaboration involves the participation of Widener faculty and students to not only provide educational support but also provide additional assistance outside of school through counseling and health services.

Classes in the charter school started in September 2006 enrolling 50 students in both kindergarten and grade 1. The school plans on adding a new grade each year until grade 5 and an enrollment of 300 students is reached. However, there have been some complaints by the Chester Upland School District that this and other charter schools take funds away from the local public school system. With this, the school district is contemplating placing a cap on their charter school enrollment with many parents being split on the issue.[30]

Chester revitalization project

A $50 million revitalization project was started in 2007 that will add significant new opportunities and services to the university and surrounding area. The project, named University Crossings, will include a hotel, bookstore, coffee shop, restaurant and apartments. The project is expected to have an overall economic impact of $1 million to Chester as well as creating 60 new jobs.[31] Its completion date is set for the fall of 2008.

Notable alumni or attendees

As of 2011, there are 59,018 total living alumni.[2]


  1. As of June 30, 2012. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2012 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2011 to FY 2012" (PDF). 2012 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Quick Facts". Widener University. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  3. America's Best Colleges 2012: National Universities Rankings
  4. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
  5. "Widener University: What Widener Students Say About Academics". The Princeton Review. Retrieved 2007-03-10.[dead link]
  6. 6.0 6.1 "America Best Colleges 2010: National Universities: Highest Proportion of Class Under 20". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Widener University". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
  8. "Widener University: Graduate Programs in Human Sexuality". Widener University. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
  9. "The degree that almost wasn't: The PsyD comes of age". APA Monitor on Psychology. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  10. "The Washington Monthly 2010 College Guide". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 2010-08-31.
  11. "America Best Colleges 2012: National Universities". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  12. "America Best Colleges 2011: Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  13. "America Best Graduate Schools 2008: Health: Clinical Psychology". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  14. "America Best Graduate Schools 2008: Health: Healthcare Management (Master's)". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  15. "America Best Graduate Schools 2008: Health: Nursing (Master's)". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  16. "America Best Graduate Schools 2008: Health: Physical Therapy". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  17. "America Best Graduate Schools 2008: Health: Social Work (Master's)". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  18. "Institutions:Widener University-Main Campus". The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Retrieved 2007-03-31.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Carnegie Selects Colleges and Universities for New Elective Community Engagement Classification". The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Archived from the original on 2007-02-04. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  20. "Widener University: Army ROTC Nursing". Widener University. Retrieved 2007-12-11.
  22. "Widener University Announces New Mascot". Widener University. Archived from the original on 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2007-03-31.
  23. "Widener Tallies 14-7 Victory for Southwest Championship". Eastern College Athletic Conference. Retrieved 2007-03-10.[dead link]
  24. "Widener Wins ECAC South Atlantic Championship Bowl". Eastern College Athletic Conference. Retrieved 2007-03-10.[dead link]
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 "Conference Champs and Postseason Appearances". Widener University. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  26. "Reel deal for these longtime Iggles fans". Delaware County Daily Times. Retrieved 2007-04-27.
  27. "Widener University: Student Body". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  28. 28.0 28.1 "Widener University: Extracurriculars". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
  29. "Widener University – Greek Life". Retrieved 2012-04-24.
  30. "Chester Upland charter plan assailed". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
  31. "Ground broken on $50M University Crossings project". Delaware County Daily Times.;jsessionid=JCn2GYhNS0PJYLVTsTBFj4J1qyVVhkNgl5Zp87JKDdkh1rlLVxvJ!-547604190?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_article&r21.pgpath=%2FDCT%2FNews&r21.content=%2FDCT%2FNews%2FHeadlineList_Story_636048. Retrieved 2007-10-13.[dead link]
  32. David Lane Powers, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed September 9, 2007.

External links

Coordinates: 39°51′39″N 75°21′18″W / 39.860703°N 75.355117°W / 39.860703; -75.355117

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