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Susquehanna University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Susquehanna University
Susquehanna University Original Seal.png
MottoAchievement, Leadership, Service
Established1858; 163 years ago (1858)
Religious affiliation
Lutheran (ELCA)
Endowment$171.2 million (2020)[1]
PresidentJonathan D. Green
Academic staff
Undergraduates2,203[3] Acceptance rate: 66% (2016)
Location, ,
United States
325 acres (132 ha)
ColorsOrange and Maroon
AthleticsNCAA Division III - Landmark Conference
NicknameRiver Hawks
Sports24 varsity teams
Susquehanna University logo.png

Susquehanna University is a private university in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, in the Susquehanna Valley. It was founded in 1858 by Benjamin Kurtz as the Lutheran-based Missionary Institute paired with a sister college, the Susquehanna Female College. When the sister college closed in 1873, the missionary institute became co-educational, and in 1895 it became a four-year school renamed Susquehanna University.

The academic programs fall into either the School of Arts and Sciences or the AACSB International-accredited Sigmund Weis School of Business. Susquehanna University enrolls more than 2,200 undergraduate students from 33 states and 23 countries,[4] and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Most students are required to live on campus all four years[5] and as of 2012, all students participate in a cross-cultural study away or service learning experience known as the GO Program.


Founding and early years

The Missionary Institute’s first building. It is now known as Selinsgrove Hall.
The Missionary Institute’s first building. It is now known as Selinsgrove Hall.

Susquehanna University was founded in 1858 as The Missionary Institute of the Evangelical Lutheran Church by Benjamin Kurtz. Having already assisted in the founding of Gettysburg Seminary, Kurtz wanted to create another institution to expand the form of American Lutheranism that he and his contemporaries Samuel Simon Schmucker, founder and first president of Gettysburg College, and Samuel Sprecher, second president of Wittenberg College, advocated.

His mission was to “educate men for the gospel ministry … who cannot take a full course of training adapted to their age and circumstances; a course so thorough in Theology as will qualify them to be able and faithful ministers of Christ.” The American Lutherans of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania pledged $22,000, 50 students and the provisional use of its church facilities.[6] However, they stipulated that the Missionary Institute be expanded to a junior college and that a sister college, Susquehanna Female College, also be formed. Kurtz’s own personal mission was the foundation of the institute’s theology department, which he led as the first professor of theology. The school’s official description, as read in the official founding charter, was “An American and Lutheran College".[7]

Drawing of the Missionary Institute sister college Susquehanna Female College.
Drawing of the Missionary Institute sister college Susquehanna Female College.

On Wednesday, September 1, 1858, the Missionary Institute of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and its sister college Susquehanna Female College were born and legally recognized 23 days later. Benjamin Kurtz was officially recognized as the first president. It had two departments, the theology department headed by Benjamin Kurtz and Henry Ziegler, and the classical department. By 1873, the sister college disbanded and the Institute became coeducational. In 1895, the institute officially became known as Susquehanna University.[8]

20th century

The 20th century brought many changes. The school had just recently transitioned into a full four-year college, offering bachelor degrees and changing its name to Susquehanna University in 1895. Notable benefactors of the university during the turn of the century were Samuel Seibert and Charles Steele, both of whom would have buildings named after them.[9] In 1903, the board approved Susquehanna’s colors, orange and maroon.[10]

By the 1920s, student enrollment skyrocketed, accommodations were refurbished and the campus expanded, academic departments and offerings enhanced, and new benefactors such as Charles Fischer and Martin Hassinger emerged, both of whom also have buildings named after them.[11]


Susquehanna University is a small, liberal arts college based in rural central Pennsylvania and is devoted solely to undergraduate education. The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.[12] Susquehanna maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1 with 90% of full-time faculty holding a doctorate or highest equivalent degree.[13]

The university offers more than 100 majors, minors and programs[14] and gives students the freedom to design their own major. Susquehanna balances its liberal arts education with five pre-professional programs in law, veterinary medicine and teaching, and coordinates with Thomas Jefferson University for allied health, Temple University for dentistry and Columbia University for engineering.[15] In 2016, an average of 96% of graduates were enrolled in graduate school or employed within six months of graduation.[16]

Organization and administration

Susquehanna University is split into two main academic departments, the School of Arts and Sciences and the Sigmund Weis School of Business. The School of Arts and Sciences offers the majority of majors, putting an emphasis on a more traditional liberal arts education including science and the humanities.[17] The Sigmund Weis School of Business is geared towards a more technical degree.[18]

Susquehanna University is governed by the president, a governing body of 56 members and a team of administrators.[19]

Selinsgrove Hall in October 2009, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It is the oldest building on campus.
Selinsgrove Hall in October 2009, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It is the oldest building on campus.


Publication Rank Year References
Wall Street Journal 170th Best College 2016 [20]
Educate to Career 59th Best Value College 2016 [21]
Money 313th Best Value College 2016 [22]
Washington Monthly 54th best liberal arts college in the United States 2016 [23]
Princeton Review 11th most popular study abroad program 2016 [24]
Niche 17th Most Conservative College in Pennsylvania 2015 [25]
New York Times 9th Most Economically Diverse College 2014 [26]
Princeton Review Best Northeastern College, with the 14th best science lab facilities, 17th most popular study abroad program, the 20th best health services, and the 12th easiest campus to get around 2013 [27]
US News & World Report 124th best liberal arts college in the United States out of 266 2013 [28]

GO Program

The GO Program, as part of a school policy adopted in 2009, requires all Susquehanna students go off-campus for cross-cultural learning. Students have a choice between GO Short programs of 2–3 weeks or semester-long GO Long programs.[29] In 2013, the GO Program was awarded the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education[30]


The total cost of attendance for the 2016-17 year is $57,650 ($43,160 in tuition and fees plus $14,490 for room and meal plan).[31] More than 99% of students receive some form of financial aid. The total amount awarded for the 2016-17 year numbered more than $83 million, and was handed out in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and Federal Work-Study Program.[32]


The Path at Susquehanna University.
The Path at Susquehanna University.

The Susquehanna University campus spans 325 acres (132 ha) in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. There are more than 50 buildings on campus, two of which, Selinsgrove Hall and Seibert Hall, were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[33] The campus buildings are primarily in the style of Georgian architecture.

Seibert Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Seibert Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Students are guaranteed housing all four years, and nearly all students live on campus. Students can choose from traditional corridor-style halls, suites, townhouses, apartments and family-style houses, each requiring no more than a 10-minute walk to class.[34]

Selinsgrove and Seibert Hall

Selinsgrove Hall is a ​3 12-story brick structure constructed in 1858 in the Italianate style. The roof features a wooden cupola and the structure was previously featured on the university logo. Seibert Hall is a ​2 12-story brick structure constructed in 1902 in a restrained Colonial Revival style.[35] Both buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[33]

Natural sciences center

The newest academic building addition to the Susquehanna campus is a $32-million complex that houses Susquehanna’s biology, chemistry, and earth and environmental science programs.[36] The building received Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.[36] The 75,000-square-foot (7,000 m2) building was dedicated on October 23, 2010.[37]

Admissions House

In 2017, Susquehanna University dedicated a new $7 million Admissions House. According to the Susquehanna's website, the Admissions house was funded through contributions from the university's Board of Trustees.[38] Unlike most other buildings on campus, the Admissions House has a white facade instead of a naturally red-brick exterior.

Student life

Susquehanna University offers more than 150 student clubs and organizations, a variety of honor societies and professional organizations, and 11 Greek Life organizations.[39]


First-Year Students' Move In Day welcomes first-year students by sending orientation team members out to carry all new students' belongings into their dorm rooms. Many faculty and staff will also assist with the move-in process.[40]

Thanksgiving Dinner is held prior to students leaving for Thanksgiving vacation. Students are served a turkey dinner by faculty, staff, and the University President.[41]

Christmas Candlelight Service is one of Susquehanna's most cherished traditions. Held in Weber Auditorium in early December, the service includes songs, readings, and prayers and finishes with everyone in attendance holding a lit candle.[42]

Twas the Night Before Christmas Students come to the campus center dressed in their pajamas and indulge in cookies and cocoa while enjoying a reading of the classic Christmas tale.[43]

Clubs and organizations

Academic interest

There are a variety of academic interest clubs and organizations in the fields of business, education, music, sciences, foreign languages, and communications.[44]

Publications and media

  • Writing majors have publication opportunities in the student-run Essay Magazine (for non-fiction)[45] and Rivercraft (for fiction, poetry, and art)[46] in addition to the writing departments' annual magazine, The Susquehanna Review, which seeks submissions from undergraduate writing majors internationally.[47]
  • Topic specific student publications include Sanctuary, a literary magazine that features sci-fi and fantasy; Flagship, a publication that features creative work and photography that focuses on students' GO program experiences; and The Squirrel, a student-run newspaper that offers a humorous, critical, and constructive perspective on the news.[48]
  • The university's student-run newspaper, The Quill, covers campus events, activities, and athletics, and provides a forum for the opinions of members of the campus community.[49]
  • WQSU, The Pulse, is the college's 12,000-watt radio station, making it the third most powerful college radio station and the tenth most powerful non-commercial radio station in Pennsylvania. Broadcasts can be heard at a 70-mile radius, which is approximately one-third of the state of Pennsylvania. The station is operated by students, faculty and staff as well as community volunteers, and features a wide variety of music and talk programs including regularly scheduled Associated Press news broadcasts.[50]
  • The Lanthorn is Susquehanna's yearbook that is available to students in hard copy in addition to being archived online.[51]

Performing arts

In addition to the student-run clubs and organizations that focused on music and dance, many ensembles are university sponsored and count toward major or elective credit requirements.[52]

The University Choir, Chorale, and Chamber Singers are the three vocal performance groups open to all students by audition, and the instrumental offerings (many of which are also open to all students through an audition process) range from small ensembles to pep bands to the University Symphonic Band.[53]

The theatre department also holds performances throughout the year with four large and several small productions a year.[54]

Religious life

There are eight religious life organizations at Susquehanna. In addition, students as well as the general public have the opportunity to attend Lutheran services held Sunday mornings on campus.[55]


There are 10 clubs and organizations that focus on volunteering or service.[56]

Student programs

Susquehanna's on-campus, student-run night club is TRAX. The facility offers a stage for live bands, comedians and other performers as well as a dance floor, bar, pool tables, an outside patio, and a DJ booth.[57]

Susquehanna University also has Charlie's Coffeehouse, a student-run café on campus named after the university's benefactor, Charles Degenstein. Students work as baristas, while the management team consists of five students who are responsible for the coffee shop's finances, marketing, programming, stocking, and managerial duties. This non-alcoholic venue offers a variety of programming every night of the week. Charlie's also works in partnership with the student activities committee to bring in outside entertainers and host movies before they are released to the general public.[58]

Greek life

There are four NPC sororities: (Alpha Delta Pi, Kappa Delta, Sigma Kappa and Zeta Tau Alpha); five NIC fraternities: (Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Theta Chi, Pi Kappa Phi and Phi Mu Delta); and two NPHC organizations: (Sigma Gamma Rho and Phi Beta Sigma).[59]


College Prowler gives Susquehanna University a B- for health and safety.[60] The University's 2013 Clery Report lists one stalking incident, seven burglaries, two robbery incidents and two sex offenses.


Susquehanna competes in 23 varsity sports in Division III of the NCAA. Most sports compete as part of the Landmark Conference with other Northeastern colleges, except for football, which competes in the Centennial Conference.[citation needed] Cheerleading is Susquehanna's 24th varsity team.[61]

Susquehanna offers intramural sports that are free of charge to all students.[62]

The Goal Post Trophy goes to the winner of the annual football game with rival Juniata College.[62]

Susquehanna also plays Lycoming College for the Amos Alonzo Stagg's hat (bronzed) trophy.[63]

Susquehanna University was the focus of attention when it suspended 11 athletes from their teams after they produced an "internet parody video". based on the "Harlem Shake."[64][65] The students were given a plan of action outlining the pathway to reinstatement to their teams.[66]

In October 2015, Susquehanna University's board of trustees elected to remove the Crusaders nickname and mascot.[67] On April 2, 2016, the University announced River Hawks as the new mascot and nickname. Other finalists included Bobcats, Explorers, River Otters, and Phoenix.[68]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty and administration

  • Tom Bailey - Author, editor, and former creative writing professor.
  • Gary Brown - Former professional football player and former offensive coordinator of Susquehanna University football team
  • Scot Dapp - Former head baseball coach at Susquehanna University
  • Gary Fincke - Author, poet, and former creative writing professor.[70]
  • Jim Garrett - Former head football coach at Susquehanna University, former college football player, NFL player and assistant coach/scout. He is the father of Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.
  • Jim Hazlett - Former head baseball and football coach
  • Ralph Mitterling - Former head football coach at Susquehanna University
  • William M. "Rocky" Rees - Former head football coach at Susquehanna University
  • Glen Retief - South African author and English and creative writing professor
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg - Former head football and basketball coach at Susquehanna University
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg Jr. - Former head football and basketball coach at Susquehanna University
  • Edgar Wingard - Former head football coach at Susquehanna University


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
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  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 25, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  15. ^ "Majors & Minors". Retrieved January 4, 2018.
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External links

This page was last edited on 8 April 2021, at 02:45
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