Principia College (commonly referred to as Principia or Prin) is a private liberal arts college located in Elsah, Illinois, United States. A four-year coeducational institution, Principia College was founded in 1912 by Mary Kimball Morgan. The institution is a designated National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior and in 2009, Forbes rated it 57th of America's Best Colleges.
Principia College campus sits on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River between Alton and Grafton. The campus is located on rural total of 2,500 acres (10 km2) acres in the Metro East region of Southern Illinois, thirty miles north of St. Louis.
Principia College was born out of The Principia, founded by Mary Kimball Morgan in 1897, though the name Principia was not adopted until the year 1898. As Morgan's school grew, founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy approved The Principia's reference as a Christian Science school. Emerging from the Principia Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools founded between 1898 and 1906, Principia College was established with a purpose of "serving the Cause of Christian Science through appropriate channels open to it as an educational institution." The college, however, has no official affiliation with the Christian Science Church and Christian Science is not taught as a subject, but its principles form the basis of community life at Principia. The first Upper School class graduated in 1906 and it is from this class that a junior college was established, whose first alumni graduated in 1917. Following this time period architect Bernard Maybeck was commissioned to design a new college campus in Elsah, Illinois and by 1931 ground was broke on what would become Maybeck's largest commission.
In 1934, Principia College graduated its first class as a full four-year institution and in 1935 the college was officially moved to its present-day location in Elsah. On April 19, 1993, the campus was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior. The year 1998 marked centennial celebrations by the school. The Principia College campus was once considered as the site for the United States Air Force Academy though ultimately The Air Force chose a location in Colorado Springs, Colorado instead.
Principia College offers twenty-seven majors in the liberal arts and sciences. The college does not currently offer a graduate program though graduates of the college later attend institutions such as Boston University, George Mason University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Northwestern University, Pepperdine University, Purdue University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Chicago, and Yale University among others. The most popular majors at this Illinois college include mass communication, biology, sociology, anthropology, studio and fine art, and business administration.
Principia offers various Study Abroad & Field Programs, International Student Programs, Conferences, and International Student Experiences.
In 2009, Forbes rated it 57th of America's Best Colleges. As of 2012, Principia College's annual tuition costs were $23,675 and the average financial aid package awarded to its student body totaled $19,560.
There are ten student dormitories on campus: Anderson House, Rackham Court, Howard House, Sylvester House, Buck House, Brooks House, Ferguson House, Joe McNabb, Lowrey House, and Clara McNabb. The first six mentioned were designed by former University of California, Berkeley professor and AIA Gold Medal winner Bernard Maybeck in 1935, as was the campus' chapel. Maybeck attempted to use different architectural styles and building techniques for each of these dormitories and for the chapel. In an effort to ensure success with his designs and materials, he experimented with them through the creation of a small building known affectionately by Principians as the "Mistake House."
Principia College has a diverse student composition and amount of organizations given its size. 20% of its students are international and represent thirty countries on six of the world's seven continents. The college has forty student clubs and organizations, among these the Euphrates and Leadership institutes. The Public Affairs Conference at the college is one of oldest student-led conference in America and has been held annually since 1939. The Principia College Speaker Series is a group of past, present, and future events that has featured United States President Barack Obama, American statesmen and retired four-star general Colin Powell, former United States president George H.W. Bush, former United States president Jimmy Carter, American author and poet Maya Angelou, David McCullough, Elie Wiesel, American actor and directon Robert Duvall, Val Kilmer, Coretta Scott King, and Margaret Thatcher among others. In addition to the Public Affairs Conference Principia College holds a Pan-African Conference with a focus on human rights in Africa.
Of the technological programs present at Principia College, most prevalent and distinguished is its study in solar energy. The college has competed in solar car world events since 1995 and finished second in the North American Solar Challenge of 2008 and seventh in the World Solar Challenge of 2009.
Principia College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). The Principia Panther is the official mascot of Principia college and has been since its change from the Indian in 1984. There are seventeen varsity athletic teams at Principia College of which men's sports are include baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and track & field; while women's are sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and volleyball.
In 1983 the women's tennis team won the NCAA Division III national championship.
Notable Principia College alumni include: