Susquehanna University

514 University Ave 
Selinsgrove PA 17870 

(570) 374-0101

Susquehanna University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Susquehanna University
Susquehanna University Original Seal.png
Motto Achievement, Leadership, Service
Type Private Lutheran
Established 1858
Endowment $151,751,947 (2014)[1]
President L. Jay Lemons
Academic staff
Undergraduates 2,401 [2]
Location Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, USA
Campus Rural
325 acres (132 ha)
Newspaper The Crusader
Colors Orange and Maroon
Athletics NCAA Division III - Landmark Conference
Sports 24 varsity teams
Nickname Crusaders
Susquehanna University logo.png

Susquehanna University is a four-year, co-educational, private liberal arts university in Selinsgrove, in central Pennsylvania, United States. The University is situated in the Susquehanna Valley approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of Pennsylvania's state capital, Harrisburg.

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 35 states and 17 countries, and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Most students are required to live on campus all four years[3] and as of 2012, all students participate in a cross-cultural study away or service learning experience known as the GO Program. Noteworthy alumni include several Pennsylvania political representatives and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

The University 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 school's 325 acres sit in rural Pennsylvania and house 39 residential buildings, 6 academic buildings, a library, athletic facilities, a health center, and several administrative buildings.


Founding and early years

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 the Gettysburg Seminary (now Gettysburg College), Kurtz wanted to create another institution in an effort to expand a 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 Missionary Institute first saw its realization when the American Lutherans of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania pledged $22,000, fifty students, and the provisional use of its church facilities.[4] However, their offer came with the stipulation that the Missionary Institute be expanded to a junior college, and that a sister college called Susquehanna Female College also be formed. Kurtz’s own personal mission would be 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.”[5]

Drawing of the Missionary Institute sister college Susquehanna Female College. It is now an apartment building on Market Street.

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. At the time of its founding 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. Twenty two years later, in 1895, the institute officially became known as Susquehanna University.[6]

20th century

The 20th century signified many changes within Susquehanna University. The school had just recently transitioned into a full four year college offering bachelor degrees, and changed its name to Susquehanna University five years prior to the new century. Notable benefactors of the university during the turn of the century were Samuel Seibert and Charles Steele, both of which would have buildings named after them.[7] In 1903, the board approved SU’s colors, orange and maroon.[8]

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 which also have buildings named after them.[9]


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.[10] Susquehanna maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1 with 92% of full-time faculty holding a doctorate or highest equivalent degree.[11]

Susquehanna balances its liberal arts education with five pre-professional programs in law, veterinary medicine, teaching, and coordinates with Thomas Jefferson University for allied health and Temple University for dentistry.[12] From 2008-2011, an average of 94% of graduates were enrolled in graduate school or employed within six months of graduation.[13]


As part of the liberal arts education, the curriculum is based largely on the University's Central Curriculum which comprises 40% of the graduation requirement.[14] The central curriculum's five components are: richness of thought, natural world, human interactions, intellectual skills, and connections.

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.[15] The Sigmund Weis School of Business is geared towards a more technical degree, although most students in the department are required to take classes from the School of Arts and Sciences by the central curriculum.[16] Interdisciplinary programs themselves are collaborative in nature, but fall ultimately within the governance of the School of Arts and Sciences.[17]

Susquehanna University is governed by the President of Susquehanna University, a governing body of 56 members, and a team of eight administrators.[18]

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

In addition, the university’s business school is accredited by AACSB International, its music department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, and its chemistry department is accredited by the American Chemical Society.[10] The university offers more than 50 majors and minors, and gives students the freedom to design their own major.[19] Additionally, cooperative programs with Thomas Jefferson University, Temple University, Duke University and ROTC are available for students looking to enter pre-med, dentistry, forestry and environmental management, or military service, respectfully.[20]

In order to emphasize a liberal arts education, all students must complete a Central Curriculum that includes course requirements in the following sections: Richness of Though, Natural World, Human Interactions, Intellectual Skills, and Connections. These courses make up around 40% of a student’s graduation requirement.[14]


Publication Rank Year References
Niche 17th Most Conservative College in Pennsylvania 2015 [21]
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 [22]
US News & World Report 124th best liberal arts college in the United States out of 266 2013 [23]
Washington Monthly 53rd best liberal arts college in the United States 2011 [24]

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 at some point during their four years, most often outside of the country. Students have a choice between GO Short Programs, GO programs 2 to 3 weeks in length, or GO Long Programs, semester long programs overseas.[25] In 2013, the GO Program was awarded the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education, due in part to its emphasis on internationalizing the campus[26]

GO Long programs include semesters at the University of the Gambia (the Gambia), University of Macau (Macau), Senshu University (Japan) and Regent's American College London (UK).[27] Other programs in South America, Europe, Africa Southeast Asia and Australia like Travel Writing in South Africa, Sherpa Life and Culture in Nepal, Performance and Design in Post-Communist Prague, and SU CASA (Central America Service Adventure) are also popular among Susquehanna students who decide to choose GO Long or GO Short.[28] The GO Short program, SU CASA, is an award-winning[29] program that takes students to Costa Rica and Nicaragua to serve congregations, clinics, hospitals, and refugee and immigrant communities.[30] The New Orleans Culture and Service: Hurricane Relief Team GO Short program remains closer to home, coordinating service trips to the Gulf Coast to aid in the post-Katrina rebuilding efforts.[31]

In September 2014 the university announced that the GO Long program to the Gambia was cancelled for Spring 2015 due to concern over the ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.[32]

London Program

One of the biggest draws of the SWSB School of Business is the GO Long SWSB London Program. The program is coordinated with the business school to allow students to enroll in a full semester with full non transfer credits, while living in and attending classes in London. The program also includes trips to various multinational companies and cultural activities in the United Kingdom and Western and Central Europe.[33]


The total cost of attendance for the 2015-16 year is $53,210 ($42,040 in tuition and fees plus $11,170 for room and meal plan).[34] More than 90% of students receive some form of financial aid. The total amount awarded for the 2014-15 year numbered more than $61 million, and was handed out in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and Federal Work-Study Program.[35]


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.[36] The campus buildings are primarily in the style of Georgian architecture.

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

Students are guaranteed housing all four years, and approximately 80% of students live on campus.[37] 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.[38]

Selinsgrove and Seibert Hall

Selinsgrove Hall is a 3 1/2-story brick structure constructed in 1858 in the Italianate style. The roof features a wooden cupola and the structure is featured on the university seal. Seibert Hall is a 2 1/2-story brick structure constructed in 1902 in a restrained Colonial Revival style.[39] Both buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[36]

Natural sciences center

The newest addition to the Susquehanna campus is a $32-million complex that houses Susquehanna’s biology, chemistry, and earth and environmental science programs.[40] The building received Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.[40] The 75,000-square-foot (7,000 m2) building was dedicated on October 23, 2010.[41]

Student life

Susquehanna University offers close to 150 student clubs and organizations, 24 honor societies and professional organizations, and 11 Greek Life organizations.[42] In addition, the Student Government Association (SGA) allocates funding to and provides approval for clubs and organizations, and the Student Activities Committee (SAC) organizes major on-campus programming for students.[42]

The Division of Student Life is made up of the Office of Student Activities, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Counseling Center, the Office of First Year Programs, the Health Center, the Center for Diversity and Social Justice, the Department of Public Safety, and the Department of Residence Life.[43]


First Year Students' Move In Day welcomes freshmen students by sending orange-clad 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.[44]

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

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.[45]

Twas the Night Before Christmas read by President Lemons. 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.[46]

Clubs and organizations

Academic interest

There are 23 academic interest clubs and organizations in the fields of business, education, music, sciences, foreign languages, and communications.[47] Most notably, in 2013, Susquehanna's Enactus (formerly S.I.F.E.) team celebrated its 10th year of competition with a tenth-straight Regional Championship.[48]

Cultural interest

Susquehanna's six cultural interest organizations work to promote the awareness, education, and support of race, ethnicity, and gender issues. The clubs are overseen by the Diversity Council which seeks to strengthen the multicultural presence on campus.[49]

Publications and media

  • Writing majors have publication opportunities in the student-run Essay Magazine (for non-fiction)[50] and Rivercraft (for fiction, poetry, and art)[51] in addition to the writing departments' annual magazine, The Susquehanna Review, which seeks submissions from undergraduate writing majors internationally.[52]
  • Topic specific student publications include Serenity, a monthly magazine focused on women's issues; Sanctuary, a literary magazine that features sci-fi and fanatasy; Variance, a yearly publication that promotes the expression and understanding of diversity.,[53] and Flagship, a magazine focused on GO trip experiences [54]
  • The interdisciplinary literary magazine Transformations publishes Susquehanna students' scholarly essays on diverse topics covering a variety of majors.[55]
  • The university's student-run newspaper, The Crusader, covers campus events, activities, and athletics, and provides a forum for the opinions of members of the campus community.[56]
  • 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.[57]
  • The Lanthorn is Susquehanna's yearbook that is available to students in hard copy in addition to being archived online.[58]

Performing arts

In addition to the five clubs student run clubs and organizations that focused on music and dance, many ensembles are university sponsored and count toward major or elective credit requirements.[59]

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.[60]

The theatre department also holds performances throughout the year with the One-Act Play Festival and Spring Production solely for theatre majors, and the Fall Musical open to any student who wishes to audition.[61]

Religious life

There are seven 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.[62]

Special interest

Susquehanna students have over 150 special interest organizations to choose from with focuses ranging from Shakespeare to gaming, crafting to the paranormal. Students have the option to come before the SGA with a proposal for a new organization if they have an interest in starting a club. The university also hosts chapters of College Democrats and College Republicans.[63]


There are twelve available clubs and organizations that focus on volunteering or service. In addition, the University has a Center for Civic Engagement which focuses on providing opportunities for students and staff to learn about, reflect on, and exercise social responsibility and civic leadership. Programming includes service trips, blood drives, designated volunteer days, and fundraisers.[64]

Student programs

Susquehanna's on-campus, student-run night club is TRAX. The facility which 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. TRAX also hosts benefit concerts for student or university sponsored philanthropies and Greek organizations.[65]

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, much of which centers on student performances or events. 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.[65]

Greek life

Approximately 18% of the student population is active in 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).[66]


Susquehanna University is located in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania which came in at number seven on the list of the 10 most dangerous communities in the commonwealth.[67] The list was compiled by a private home security firm as a marketing ploy using selected FBI statistics for crimes against people and property .

College Prowler gives Susquehanna University an B- for health and safety.[68] The University's 2013 Clery Report lists one stalking incident, seven burglaries, two robbery incidents and two sex offenses.

American School Search calls Susquehanna University a "very dangerous place to be enrolled at" and gives it a grade of F for safety, reporting 8 forcible sex offenses, 7 aggravated assaults and 18 burglaries during 2010-2012.[69]


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. Susquehanna competes in the Centennial Conference for football and women's golf and the Empire 8 for men's golf.[citation needed] Cheerleading is Susquehanna's 24th varsity team.[citation needed]

Susquehanna offers 14 intramural sports which are free of charge to all students. Both flag football and basketball league winners advance to national tournaments.[citation needed] Students may also join several club sports — including men's and women's rugby, men's ice hockey, ultimate Frisbee, men's volleyball and men's and women's crew — that compete against other colleges.[citation needed]

One of the very successful sports team on campus is the men's soccer team. In 2013 and 2014 they won back to back Landmark Conference Championships as well as an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. In 2013, they made it all the way to the Sweet 16 before losing to the eventual runner up. That year they broke almost every program record and finished the season 18-3-1.

The Goal Post Trophy and it goes to the winner of the annual football game with rival Juniata College.[citation needed] It is a section of goal post from the post that was torn down after the 1952 Juniata-Susquehanna game.[citation needed] The visiting Indians (now Eagles) upset the Crusaders in Selinsgrove, and Juniata fans tore down the goal post after the game.[citation needed] At roughly 5 feet (1.5 m) tall, it is one of the tallest trophies in college football.[citation needed]

Susquehanna also plays Lycoming College for the Amos Alonzo Stagg's hat (bronzed) trophy.[70]

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."[71][72] The students were given a plan of action outlining the pathway to reinstatement to their teams.[73]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty and administration

  • Tom Bailey - Author, Editor, and Teacher at Creative Writing Program
  • Gary Brown - Former Professional Football Player and Offensive Coordinator of Susquehanna University Football Team
  • Jay Lemons - President of Susquehanna University
  • Scot Dapp - Head Baseball Coach at Susquehanna University
  • Jim Hazlett - Head Baseball and Football Coach
  • Ralph Mitterling - Head Football Coach at Susquehanna University
  • William M. "Rocky" Rees - Head Football Coach at Susquehanna University
  • Glen Retief - South African Author and English and Creative Writing Professor
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg - Head Football and Basketball Coach at Susquehanna University
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg, Jr. - Head Football and Basketball Coach at Susquehanna University
  • Edgar Wingard - Head Football Coach at Susquehanna University

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