Allegheny College

Allegheny College is a private liberal arts college located in northwestern Pennsylvania which prides itself as being one of the oldest colleges in the United States. Allegheny College places an emphasis on the value of the liberal arts discipline, as reflected in its official description as "a liberal arts college where 2,100 students with unusual combinations of interests, skills and talents excel." Its campus is located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh, east of Cleveland, and south of Erie.

Founded in April 1815 by the Rev. Timothy Alden, Allegheny is the 32nd oldest college in the USA and the oldest college in continuous existence under the same name west of the Appalachian Mountains. The college has been historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1833, as a result of the financial support the United Methodist Church provided to sustain the college through a difficult era. Allegheny College is non-sectarian and welcomes members of all faiths, maintaining a policy of non-discrimination.


Founded in 1815, Allegheny College ranks among the oldest 1% of colleges and universities in the United States. Perhaps as many as 100 colleges were established and failed before the American Civil War. Allegheny's survival is a testament to the determination and vision of those early pioneers of higher education in America

The July 18,1815 publication of the Crawford County Messenger carries the first official mention of Allegheny College (then Alleghany College) in the form of an advertisement by founder Rev. Timothy Alden. The first class (comprising four members) entered the college one year later, on July 4,1816. Within six years, Alden succeeded in attracting sufficient funds to begin building a campus, having traveled throughout the eastern states seeking support for a planned library and classroom building. In the 1820s, The need of a building to house a library led to the construction of Bentley Hall, today a notable example of early American architecture. Designed by Alden himself, the structure still crowns the hill on which the campus is located. It is named in honor of Dr. William Bentley, who donated his outstanding private library to the College. Following receipt of a charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1817, Alden continued to serve as President until 1831, when financial and enrollment problems forced his resignation.

Over the decades the college has grown in size and significance while still maintaining ties to the community. Today the campus has 33 buildings on a 77 acre central campus, a outdoor recreational complex, and a nature preserve. As of the 2005-2006 academic year, the college's undergraduate enrollment is approximately 2,100 with an average class size of 16, representing 49 states and 31 countries.

In February 2008, James H. Mullen Jr. was named the 21st president of Allegheny. He took office Aug. 1, 2008.

Academic programs

In addition to the programs listed here, Allegheny also offers opportunities for students to design their own majors and minors. Students may also choose to double-major or double-minor if they have sufficient credits.


Majors offered at Allegheny consist of Art History, Art and Technology, Studio Art, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Communication Arts and Theatre, Computer Science, Applied Computing, Economics, English, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geology, Environmental Geology, History, Mathematics, French, German, Spanish, International Studies, Music, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, and Women's Studies.


Most of the above majors with the addition of American Studies, Arts and the Environment, Asian Studies, Black Studies, Classical Studies, Dance and Movement Studies, French Studies, German Studies, Lesbian and Gay Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Media Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Science, Health and Society, Russia and Eastern Europe, and Values, Ethics and Social Action.

Student newspaper

The Allegheny newspaper is called The Campus. It is distributed weekly at locations all over the college. It covers campus news, features, opinion and a wrap-up of the college sports.

Presidents of Allegheny College

1. Timothy Alden, D.D. 1815-1831
2. Martin Ruter, D.D. 1833-1837
3. Homer J. Clark, D.D. 1837-1847
4. John Barker, D.D. 1847-1860
5. George Loomis, D.D. 1860-1875
6. Lucius H. Bugbee, D.D. 1875-1882
7. David H. Wheeler, D.D., LL.D. 1883-1888
8. Wilbur G. Williams, D.D. 1888-1889
9. David H. Wheeler, D.D., LL.D. 1889-1893
10. William H. Crawford, D.D., LL.D. 1893-1920
11. Fred W. Hixson, D.D., LL.D. 1920-1924
12. James Albert Beebe, D.D., LL.D. 1926-1930
13. William Pearson Tolley, D.D., Ph.D., LL.D 1931-1942
14. John Richie Schultz, Ph.D., LL.D. 1942-1947
15. Louis T. Benezet, Ph.D. 1948-1955
16. Lawrence Lee Pelletier, Ph.D., LL.D. 1955-1980
17. David Baily Harned, Ph.D. 1980-1985
18. Raymond P. Shafer, J.D., LL.D. 1985-1986
19. Daniel F. Sullivan, Ph.D. 1986-1996
20. Richard J. Cook, Ph.D. 1996-2008
21. James H. Mullen, Jr., Ed.D. 2008-Present

Sample of Notable Alumni and Former Students

Other Facts

Programs and support

  • Extensive merit aid available up to $60,000 guaranteed over four years of study
  • 68% of students receive need-based aid
  • The Allegheny College Center for Experiential Learning (ACCEL) provides 'one stop shopping' for internships, off-campus study, leadership programs, and community service—all means of connecting classroom learning to 'real world' experience.


  • Allegheny has medical school cooperative programs available with three institutions: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Drexel University & Jefferson Medical College
  • Most popular graduate schools attended by Allegheny chemistry graduates: Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Emory, Dartmouth, Cornell, & Carnegie Mellon
  • Allegheny ranks in the top 5 percent of schools whose graduates go on to earn Ph.D.s in all fields, in the top 4 percent in the science disciplines, and in the top 2 percent for producing chemistry Ph.D.s., according to data from the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium Study of the Doctorate Records File for the decade 1995-2004.
  • On a percentage basis, Allegheny produces twice as many scientists as the top rated research universities. During the past decade, about 30 percent of Allegheny's students have graduated with degrees in the sciences annually. The national average is 23 percent.
  • Allegheny recently received the fifth-largest grant awarded -$900,000- in a national competition supporting the biological and related sciences in outstanding liberal arts colleges. Competitors were chosen for their strength in sending students on to medical schools and graduate schools in biology, chemistry, physics and math.
  • Allegheny's Neuroscience program is a joint effort between the Psychology and Biology Departments. There are numerous opportunities for student research in off-campus environments such as the National Institutes of Health.
  • Allegheny maintains one of the highest percentages of women graduates of all colleges in the Liberal Arts Computer Science Consortium.
  • The Biology Department ranks in the top 5% among private, undergraduate institutions in production of eventual Ph.D.s since 1920.
  • The Chemistry Department ranks in the top 5% among private, undergraduate institutions in production of eventual Ph.D.s since 1920.
  • The Economics Department, since 1920, has ranked in the top 12% among private, undergraduate institutions in production of eventual Ph.D.s in economics.
  • The English department ranks in the top 5% among private, undergraduate institutions in production of eventual Ph.D.s since 1920.
  • The International Studies department combines courses from the Political Science, History, Economics and Modern Languages departments.
  • Since 1920, the Geology department ranks in the top 2.5% among private, undergraduate institutions in production of eventual Ph.D.s in earth sciences.
  • Since 1920, the History department has ranked in the top 6.8% among private, undergraduate institutions in production of eventual Ph.D.s.
  • The Mathematics Department, since 1920, has ranked in the top 8.5% among private, undergraduate institutions in production of eventual Ph.D.s in mathematics.
  • The Modern & Classical Languages (includes Latin, German, French, Chinese & Spanish) Department ranks in the top 4.5% among private undergraduate institutions in production of eventual Ph.D.s since 1920.
  • Allegheny has ranked in the top 7% among private, undergraduate institutions in production of students who eventually receive physics Ph.D.s since 1920.
  • Allegheny has ranked in the top 3% of all private, undergraduate colleges and universities in students going on to earn Ph.D.s in psychology since 1920.
  • Allegheny is one of the few undergraduate liberal arts programs to offer a special emphasis in Managerial Economics: finance, accounting, and much more.
  • The U.S. News and World Report has recognized Allegheny for its Senior Comprehensive Project, which requires a student to complete a capstone project in his or her major field. The project is usually a significant piece of original research that demonstrates skills most prized by employers and graduate schools.
  • Allegheny offers over 900 combinations of majors and minors. Students declare a major and a minor. Students also select a major advisor by the end of the sophomore year.
  • In the National Survey of Student Engagement, responses by college seniors placed Allegheny within the top 10% in the U.S. for the close student-faculty interaction.
  • Eighty-four percent of Allegheny classes have fewer than 30 students.
  • About 95 percent of Allegheny faculty members have their Ph.D. or terminal degree in their field.


  • Twenty-seven percent of Alleghenians participate in intercollegiate athletics.
  • Seventy percent of Alleghenians play intramural sports.
  • There are over 100 clubs and organizations offered at Allegheny.
  • Alleghenians perform more than 30,000 hours of community service a year.
  • Allegheny is one of three schools nation wide that participates in both the Bonner Leader and Bonner Scholar Programs sponsored by AmeriCorps and the Bonner Foundation.
  • Allegheny is one of 22 member schools of Project Pericles
  • Contributing to the diversity of the student body, about 7 percent of the freshman class at Allegheny is composed of students of color.
  • Allegheny students represent 27 countries.
  • Nearly 80% of Allegheny's students live on campus.
  • There are five fraternities, including Delta Tau Delta, Theta Chi, Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Phi Delta Theta.


  • Some facilities are exceptional for an undergraduate college, for example, the Psychology Department's laboratory complex for teaching and student research, which recently received over $500,000 in renovations.
  • Biology and chemistry buildings are national models for undergraduate colleges, reflecting Allegheny's successful approach to science education: small-group, lab-centered, and emphasizing original experimentation.
  • Allegheny employs a large network of workstations and other computers—over 200 for student use—to enhance learning in virtually every discipline.
  • Most natural and social science Professors have their own lab connected to their office for research, and students have full access to the labs.
  • Features a nationally acclaimed science complex.
  • Three major art galleries.
  • "Smart classrooms" and state-of-the-art videoconferencing facilities.
  • Construction underway on a new communications and theatre arts center, a $23 million state-of-the-art academic facility and performance venue.
  • Allegheny's campus covers more than , almost per student.
  • Allegheny has a environmental research reserve.
  • Allegheny's Pelletier Library holds 1,009,409 volumes; 4,542 periodicals in print and electronic formats; and 180,256 government documents.
  • Allegheny has its own cable TV channels and a radio station, WARC-FM.
  • New developments offer townhouse-style student apartments and outdoor quad area.
  • Allegheny's newly built North Village apartment styled dormitories are environmentally friendly and are expected to earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. North Village is also the home of the Max Kade International House, the first of its kind which was made possible by a $3 million donation by the Max Kade Foundation.


  • Allegheny is a charter member of the North Coast Athletic Conference, the first intercollegiate athletic conference in the country to mandate equality between men's and women's sports.
  • Allegheny remodeled its Frank B. Fuhrer football field and track in 2006.
  • Allegheny currently holds the record for most consecutive appearances at the NCAA Division III National Golf Championships.
  • Allegheny was the Division III National Football Champion in 1990.


  • Allegheny has built a strong regional reputation on its low student-faculty ratio and the high placement rate seniors enjoy at professional schools.[1]
  • Allegheny College is recognized in: Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope, US News and World Report, The Fiske Guide to Colleges, The Princeton Review 2007 Edition,Peterson's Competitive Colleges 2006: 440 Colleges That Attract the Best and Brightest, The Templeton Guide: Colleges that Encourage Character Development, Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That is Best for You, The Princeton Review's Colleges with a Conscience: 81 Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement, The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, and is the only school in western Pennsylvania mentioned in all of the aforementioned publications.
  • The U.S. News ranked Allegheny 82nd in the nation among all national liberal arts colleges.
  • Ben Burtt '70 was the winner of three Academy Awards for sound design for Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as for the sound editing for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
  • Alleghenians work for one in every three of the Fortune 500 companies.
  • Allegheny ranks in the top 4% of liberal arts colleges in producing U.S. business leaders
  • Pre-Health (medical, veterinary, dentistry, podiatry) and Pre-Law acceptance rates are double the national average. They average around 80%-100%.
  • Over the past 10 years, dental schools accepted 36 of 40 Allegheny applicants.
  • Allegheny Review won so many Columbia Scholastic Press Association awards that the editors stopped entering the journal in the contests.
  • Allegheny is one of just 29 selective colleges/universities in the country most highly recommended for study in geology by 'Ruggs Recommendations on the Colleges'. This list includes such schools as Brown, Carleton, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and William and Mary.
  • The Mathematics department enjoys an acceptance rate to graduates of 95%.
  • About 84% of Chemistry majors attend graduate or professional school eventually. About 73% go on directly, with annual acceptance rates ranging from 95-100%.
  • Allegheny English majors applying to graduate and professional school have a 90% acceptance rate.
  • Neuroscience graduates are actively sought after by some of the best graduate programs in the country.
  • Approximately 70% of students majoring in neuroscience seek admission to graduate schools following graduation.
  • Approximately 90% of neuroscience students are admitted to programs of graduate study in the neurosciences.
  • Consistently high percentage of Allegheny computer science students continue their studies at the graduate level.
  • A recent graduate [in the Chemistry department] was the first non-Ph.D. hired as a chemist at Magellan Labs.
  • A member of the class of '96 was named a Mayo Minority Scholar, one of only four selected nationwide.
  • Students continuing to professional schools directly after graduation (medical, graduate, law, business schools): 78%


  • In 1971, the movie Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, based on the novel by Richard Farina of the same name, was filmed on college grounds; the movie was a box office flop.
  • Women were charged an extra $6 when first admitted to Allegheny in 1870 to cover the extra costs incurred by the 'complexity of their nervous systems.' The surcharge was soon dropped, and a woman was valedictorian of the Allegheny class of 1875.
  • The name 'Allegheny' can be translated as 'Endless Mountains,' 'Best River,' 'River of Cave People,' or 'Great Warpath.'
  • Despite residing in the Snowbelt, the Dean of Students hasn't called an official snow day at Allegheny since 1978.
  • Allegheny has welcomed a variety of entertainers and guest speakers over the last several years, including John Updike, Dave Matthews, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, W.D. Snodgrass, Adam Sandler, George Carlin, The Vienna Choir Boys, Rusted Root, Ben Folds, The Fray, Jimmy Fallon, Wayne Brady, The Grateful Dead, and the cast of Ain't Misbehavin'.
  • In a letter of February 1824 to Allegheny's first president and founder, Timothy Alden, Thomas Jefferson wrote he hoped his University of Virginia could someday possess the richness of Allegheny's library.
  • For years, the "Thirteenth Plank" off a small bridge crossing the streambed which runs through campus was annually taken and subsequently displayed in the residence hall of the students who are able to capture it during Orientation Week. This tradition started in the late 1950s. Legend has it that a "co-ed", or freshman girl, who was kissed on the thirteenth plank by an upperclassman male would then be off-limits to freshman boys; the race to steal the plank evolved so that this could not occur. This tradition has weakened over the past few years; many times, the board on the bridge is pre-loosened by the school's Physical Plant, decreasing the romance and legend of the tradition. Also, the plank is usually no longer prominently displayed in the residence halls.
  • A widely repeated story states that William McKinley (who did attend Allegheny) led a cow up the stairs of Bentley Hall's bell tower and left it there as a student prank. The story erroneously states that cows cannot walk down stairs and the cow therefore had to be butchered in the tower (cows can walk down stairs, but not easily). It is believed that McKinley was expelled for the prank, but no records exist to either confirm or deny this. McKinley's Food Court in the Henderson Campus Center is marked by a sign in the shape of a cow.
  • In summer of 2007 Allegheny College made national news when a wrecking ball meant for the library (which was going through renovation) snapped off its cable and rolled down the street (the college rests on a hill) bouncing off curbs and hitting nine cars until it finally came to rest in one student's car trunk. Only minor injuries were reported, but the bizarre accident was a hit on NPR. The student body has since voted to name the library's coffee shop "The Wrecking Ball" in reference to the memorable event.
  • American Eagle Outfitters shot their Fall 2007 advertising campaign on Allegheny's campus.


  • Some believe that the ghost of former Allegheny student Budd Dwyer now haunts the Theta Chi fraternity house.

External links


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