College PA

Wilson College (Pennsylvania)

(Arts, Sciences and Religion)
Established 1869
Dr. Barbara K. Mistick

Academic staff

40 full-time
Mascot The Phoenix

Wilson College

Wilson College Harry R. Brooks Complex

Area 55 acres (22.3 ha)
Built 1870
NRHP Reference # -related, liberal arts college located on a 300-acre (121.4 ha) 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. For 144 years, Wilson operated as a women's college. In 2013 the college's board of trustees voted to make the college coeducational beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year with male residential students beginning in fall 2014.

Wilson College has about 800 students from 17 U.S. states and 14 foreign countries. At the time the Board made the decision to go Co-Ed the college had 316 undergraduate and 379 graduate students. It is known for its Women with Children program, which allows single mothers to bring their children to live with them on campus, as well as for its veterinary medical technician and equestrian programs, and the Fulton Center for Sustainable Living, which operates a 7-acre (2.8 ha) organic farm and a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program that supplies community families and others with fresh, organic produce.


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 used to purchase the campus land. 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).

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 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 remained open as a women's college until 2013, despite the trend toward turning women's colleges into coeducational institutions.

In 1982, Wilson began offering a continuing studies program (now known as the Adult Degree 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 college currently offers six graduate degree programs.

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 Adult Degree Program, although the traditional undergraduate college remained a College For Women. In January 2013, the college's board of trustees voted to extend coeducation across all programs; male commuter students were admitted in fall 2013, with the first male residential students beginning in fall 2014.

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 28 majors, 40 minors, master's degrees in education, humanities, fine arts, accounting, nursing and healthcare management, and a state-certified Teacher Intern Program. 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, Nursing, 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, which operates a USDA certified...

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