West Chester University of Pennsylvania (WCUPA) is a public university located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Philadelphia. It is one of the 14 state universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). West Chester was ranked 69th in the Master's Universities (North) category by U.S. News & World Report for 2009. The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS).
The university traces its roots to the private, state-aided school that existed from 1812 to 1869. As the state began to take increasing responsibility for public education, the academy was transformed into West Chester Normal School, still privately owned and state certified. The normal school admitted its first class, consisting of 160 students, on September 25, 1871. In 1913, West Chester became the first of the normal schools to be owned outright by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
West Chester became West Chester State Teachers College in 1927 when Pennsylvania initiated a four-year program of teacher education. In 1960, as the Commonwealth paved the way for liberal arts programs in its college system, West Chester was renamed West Chester State College, and two years later introduced the liberal arts program that turned the one-time academy into a comprehensive college.
In 1981 the West Chester State College Quadrangle Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings included in this historic district are Philips Memorial Building, Ruby Jones Hall, Recitation Hall and the Old Library. Except for Philips, these buildings are all constructed of native Chester County serpentine stone.
With passage of the State System of Higher Education bill, West Chester became one of the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education on July 1, 1983. Along with its new name— West Chester University of Pennsylvania—the institution acquired a new system of governance and the opportunity to expand its degree programs.
West Chester has received growing recognition as the nation's center for formal poetry. Its annual conference on form and narrative in poetry began in 1995 and is now the nation's only conference devoted to New Formalism. It has established a poetry center that sponsors readings and an annual book competition oriented toward formal poetry. It has also established Iris Spencer awards recognizing undergraduate achievement in formal poetry.
At the undergraduate level, the university offers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Music degrees. Paraprofessional studies are available in law, medicine, and theology. In cooperation with the Pennsylvania State University and Philadelphia University, West Chester University offers a 3-2 dual-degree program combining liberal arts, physics, and engineering. Also available are early admission assurance programs with Drexel School of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and Temple University School of Medicine. The university provides special admission opportunities and scholarships to the Widener School of Law–Harrisburg Campus. Certification programs are available in health and physical education teacher certification, driver education and safe living, and outdoor recreation. Interdisciplinary areas of study with transcript recognition include American studies, ethnic studies, Latin American studies, Russian studies, peace and conflict studies, women's studies, and linguistics. At the graduate level, West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers graduate study leading to the M.A., M.B.A., M.Ed., M.M., M.P.H., M.S., M.S.W., M.S.N., and M.S.A. degrees.
Institute for Women
The Institute for Women is an independent body designed to represent the interests of women on the campus. It serves as the parent organization for the Women's Center, the Women's Studies Program, and the Title IX and Sex Discrimination Board. The institute is headed by a director and a board of directors.
West Chester University opened an International Programs office to aide in sending students abroad.
West Chester sponsors a number of annual courses, which include study abroad during spring, summer, and winter breaks.
West Chester University participates in the National Student Exchange Program, in which students spend up to a year at any one of more than 170 member schools across the United States. Transfer of credit is a part of this program.
Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium
The Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium supports West Chester University by providing a grant for the Summer Space Program and through the support of two academic scholarships for West Chester University students enrolled in Mathematics and Science degree programs. Each academic year, applications from qualified students for the these scholarships are reviewed by a committee of three faculty members (Geography/Planning, Mathematics, Geology/Astronomy departments).
The West Chester University Golden Rams Marching Band, which has over 300 members, performs pre-game, halftime, or post-game at all home and select away WCU football games in Pennsylvania and in Delaware. The band performs in parades and high school marching band competitions. The Golden Rams have performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade, Philadelphia Eagles games, and the annual Collegiate Marching Band Festival in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In 2009, Bands of America the band attended the Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, an honor given to only two college bands in the United States each year.
The athletic teams at West Chester University of Pennsylvania are named the Golden Rams. Students participate in NCAA Division II athletics in the PSAC and the ECAC. West Chester University has won national championships in women's basketball, women's lacrosse, women's swimming (the team was the DGWS champion in 1972), women's field hockey (including four AIAW titles from 1975–78), and men's soccer. West Chester won the first ever women's basketball national championship in 1969 and was on the losing end in the final game each of the following three years.
In 1961, the men's soccer team won the NCAA Championship. Jerry Yeagley was a player on West Chester's championship team before going on to win six NCAA Championships and six National Coach of the Year Awards as the men's soccer coach at Indiana University. In addition, prior to the NCAA instituting a tournament format to decide the champion in 1959, the Golden Rams were voted the National Soccer Champions in 1950 by the Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association.
In 1977, 1979, and 1982 the boxing team won the National Collegiate Boxing Association national championship.
West Chester University's football program has won 20 PSAC East championships (1960, 1961, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2007, 2008), has appeared in the NCAA Division II playoffs 9 times (5-9 record) (1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), and was the ECAC team of the year in 2006 and 2007.
The West Chester Men's and Women's swimming teams are noted for dominating the PSAC in recent years; the Men have not lost the conference title since 1998 and hold a total of 25 PSAC championships, the most out of any school in the conference. 2008 was a particularly successful year for the Men's team; finishing 3rd at NCAA's and fielding an 800 yard freestyle relay team that took the national title. The women's swim team has remained undefeated in the PSAC since 2007 and hold a combined total of 10 championships. West Chester graduate Jackie Borkowski ('10) competed in the 2012 Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb. in the 50m freestyle ultimately coming in 86th place. She won 3 individual national titles during her tenure with the Golden Rams.
In 2008, West Chester defeated C.W. Post College 13-12 to win the Division II women's lacrosse title. It was the second national title in the women's program history.
In 2012, The Men's Baseball Team claimed West Chesters First NCAA Division II College Baseball National Championship. The Gold Rams shut-out Delta State 9-0 in Cary, North Carolina. West Chester becomes the first team from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) to win the national championship and just the third northern school to walk away with the title.
West Chester's Women's Field Hockey team has won the division two championship in 2011 and 2012.