Our story begins with three leaders creating three colleges on the American frontier. Since then, W&J College has emerged as a leading institution with a storied history of doers, dreamers, and achievers: Senators and Congressmen, Hall of Famers, an NFL commissioner, CEOs, chairpersons, space travelers. For over 200 years, W&J College has produced ethical, well-rounded, and informed leaders in all fields and a strong network of alumni to support the next generation.
History of W&J College
Founded in 1781, right after the end of the battles for American independence, W&J College has its origins in three log cabin colleges established by three graduates of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton). Soon after, two of those initial founders joined together as the first trustees for the newly charted Washington Academy, later Washington College. The other founder became headmaster of Canonsburg Academy, later Jefferson College. His students joined him at the new academy. Finally, in 1865, Washington College and Jefferson College unified, establishing Washington & Jefferson College. Since then, Juncta Juvant: Together We Thrive.
W&J College continues to lead, educating individuals who can interpret, analyze, critique, innovate, and communicate the skills employers will always value most. With a practical and liberating arts and sciences curriculum that reflects our history and looks to the future, we're proud to be one of the oldest colleges in the United States.
W&J College At A Glance
Addition of Centers for Ethical Leadership and Professional Pathways
The Center for Ethical Leadership and the Center for Professional Pathways launched during the fall semester.
Renovations to Clark Family Library
A complete interior renovation and exterior upgrades to the Clark Family Library, formerly U. Grant Miller Library, were completed in May. The project was funded by a leading gift from Richard (Class of ’68) and Angela Clark, with contributions from other generous donors to the College.
James David Ross Family Recreation Center
The James David Ross Family Recreation Center opened in April. The 30,000-square foot facility features a walking/running track, multi-sport athletic courts, a new wrestling room, and a general exercise room, plus new offices and recruiting spaces for the athletics department. It is named for the family of lead donor David A. Ross ’78.
Dr. John C. Knapp Joins W&J
Dr. John C. Knapp became the 13th president of Washington & Jefferson College. Dr. Knapp is an internationally known author and speaker with leadership experience spanning the education, non-profit, and business sectors.
Dr. Tori Haring-Smith Retires
Dr. Tori Haring-Smith retired as president.
Janet Swanson Tennis Center
The Janet Swanson Tennis Center opened in September and serves as the home site for the W&J men’s and women’s tennis teams.
John A. Swanson Science Center
John A. Swanson Science Center was opened and dedicated to the physical sciences, including Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Bioinformatics.
Tori Haring-Smith became the first woman to serve as president of Washington & Jefferson College. Under Haring-Smith’s leadership, the College initiated the award-winning Magellan Project, built the state-of-the-art Janet Swanson Tennis Center, surpassed the $100M goal laid out by its Uncommon Bond capital campaign, established the English Language Institute…
The Burnett Center
The Burnett Center houses the Departments of Economics and Business, Modern Languages, and Education. It was named after Howard J. Burnett.
Student enrollment grew from 830 in 1970 to 1,100 in 1998.
Growth and Community Engagement
Under Brian C. Mitchell, who served as president from 1998 to 2004, the college experienced a growth in construction and an effort to improve relations with the neighboring communities.
Retirement of President Howard Burnett
Howard Burnett retired as president.
Howard J. Burnett took office as president and hired the college’s first female faculty members and the first female dean. The college also adopted a new academic calendar to include intersession and expanded its academic programs to include the Entrepreneurial Studies Program, the Freshman Forum, and several cooperative international education programs.
The Trustees authorized the admission of women as undergraduate students.
Curriculum Revisions and Construction
Boyd Crumrine Patterson assumed the presidency and oversaw curriculum revisions and the construction of a number of buildings, including the Henry Memorial Center, ten Greek housing units in the center of campus, the U. Grant Miller Library, the Student Center, The Commons, and two new dormitories. His fundraising abilities grew the college’s endowment from…
New Dorms Constructed
James Herbert Case, Jr., who was president from 1946 to 1950, constructed several new dormitories to handle the influx of veterans under the G.I. Bill.
Renovations to McMillan Hall
James D. Moffat personally paid for the renovations of McMillan Hall.
James D. Moffat led a period of growth when the college constructed The Old Gym, Hays Hall, Thompson Memorial Library, and Thistle Physics Building. Also purchased was the land known as the “old fairground.”
The United States Supreme Court upheld the consolidation, allowing the newly configured college to proceed.
Effort to Overturn Consolidation
Before the merger could be completed, Canonsburg residents and Jefferson College partisans filed a lawsuit known as the Pennsylvania College Cases, which sought to overturn the consolidation plan.
On April 4th, Jonathan Edwards, a pastor from Baltimore who had been president of Hanover College, was elected the first president of the unified Washington & Jefferson College.
Washington & Jefferson College
Following the Civil War, both colleges were short on students and on funds, causing them to join together as Washington & Jefferson College.
Matthew Brown petitioned the Pennsylvania General Assembly to grant Washington Academy a charter, allowing it to be re-christened as Washington College.
Canonsburg Academy was reconstituted as Jefferson College, with John McMillan serving as the first President of the Board of Trustees.
During the Whiskey Rebellion, portions of David Bradford’s militia camped on the hillside that would later become home to the unified Washington & Jefferson College.
Founding of College
The Beginning: Three Log Cabins
Washington & Jefferson College traces its origins to three log cabin colleges established by frontier clergymen John McMillian, Thaddeus Dod, and Joseph Smith.
81% Classes with fewer than 20 students
124 Number of FTE faculty
98% Full-time tenure/tenure track faculty with terminal degrees
566/590 Male/Female Ratio
Accepted Student Profile
1180 Mid 50% SAT (Critical Reading and Math Sections Only)
25-24 Mid 50% ACT (Critical Reading and Math Sections Only)
Most Popular Majors for the Class of 2019
Economics, Neuroscience, and Computer & Information Studies
Financial Aid Information
100% Students receiving some type of financial aid
$30K Annual average institutional financial aid offer for 2019 enrolled freshmen
The W&J College On-Time Graduation Guarantee
At W&J College, we guarantee that all students who meet academic expectations will graduate in four years. From the day you arrive on campus, you will experience first-hand how we deliver on our promise. Inside and outside of the classroom, you will receive undivided attention from our dedicated faculty and staff, helping you every step of the way to explore and uncover your passions and academic opportunities.
The mission of Washington & Jefferson College is to graduate people of uncommon integrity, competence and maturity who are effective lifelong learners and responsible citizens, and who are prepared to contribute substantially to the world in which they live.
To this end, the College promotes the development of skills, knowledge, personal qualities and a worldview that characterizes a well-educated person. All components of the living and learning environment at W&J are designed and intended to support this mission.
Washington & Jefferson College is recognized nationally as a highly selective, residential, student-centered liberal arts college with an exceptional record of producing future leaders, whose graduates are prepared for a breadth of life opportunities and professional success. Toward that end, W&J asserts its place as Pittsburgh's premiere liberal arts institution, a role it has played for more than 230 years. More broadly, it is known as a robust community of engaged and intellectually curious faculty, staff, and students.