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Philadelphia University

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Philadelphia University
Motto Powered to Do What's Now, Powered to Do What's Next!™
Type Private
Established 1884
Endowment $23 million[1]
President Stephen Spinelli Jr., PhD
Administrative staff
Undergraduates 2,888
Postgraduates 652
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Campus Suburban, 100 acres (0.4 km²)
Colors Maroon and Grey
Athletics PhilaU Athletics
Affiliations NCAA Division II, CACC
Mascot Phil the Ram[2]
Official Logo of PhilaU

Philadelphia University (PhilaU), founded in 1884, is a private university in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The student body has about 3,500 students. Academic programs are divided among the College of Architecture and the Built Environment; the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce; the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts; and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies; courses are also offered via PhilaU Online. Philadelphia University awards bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees. In May 2017, the university officially announced that it will be merging with Thomas Jefferson University, therefore changing its name in July of that year.[3] Since then, Philadelphia University has operated under the name Thomas Jefferson University, marketing itself as "Jefferson."


At the 1876 Centennial Exposition, local textile manufacturers noticed that Philadelphia's textile industry was falling behind its rivals' capacity, technology, and ability. In 1880, they formed the Philadelphia Association of Manufacturers of Textile Fabrics, with Theodore C. Search as its president, to fight for higher tariffs on imported textiles and to educate local textile leaders. Search joined the board of directors of the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art (now the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of the Arts), thinking it the perfect partner for his plans for a school, and began fundraising in 1882.

In early 1884, Search himself taught the first classes of the Philadelphia Textile School to five students at 1336 Spring Garden Street. The school was officially opened on November 5, 1884.

The school moved to 1303-1307 Buttonwood Street in 1891, then moved again in 1893.

Enrollment had been growing steadily and the school was turning away "bright young fellows" for lack of space. Search and the board of trustees of the school took out a mortgage on the former Philadelphia Institute of the Deaf and Dumb on the corner of Broad and Spruce Streets. This allowed rapid expansion of academic offerings and capacity of students.

In 1942, the school was granted the right to award baccalaureate degrees and changed its name to the Philadelphia Textile Institute (PTI). In 1949, having decided to break its ties with the museum, PTI moved to its present site in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.

In 1961, the school changed its name again, to Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science. The university's student population doubled between 1954 and 1964, and doubled again by 1978, with programs in the arts, sciences, and business administration being introduced. The College purchased an adjoining property in 1972, doubling the size of its campus. In 1976, it offered its first graduate degree, the Master of Business Administration. The purchase of additional properties in East Falls in 1980 and 1988 nearly doubled the campus again, adding classrooms, research laboratories, student residences, and athletic facilities. In 1992, the 54,000-square-foot (5,000 m2) Paul J. Gutman Library opened.

During the 1990s, the college began to offer undergraduate majors in a wider range of fields, resulting in the College being granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1999. The Board of Trustees voted to change the College’s name to Philadelphia University, or PhilaU for short, on July 13, 1999.

In May 2017, the university announced that it will be merging with Thomas Jefferson University. The combined institution will replace the Philadelphia University name, becoming Thomas Jefferson University.[4]


Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia University offers 25 undergraduate concentrations, 17 graduate concentrations, four combined B.S./M.S. concentrations, and a Ph.D. in textile engineering.

  • College of Architecture and the Built Environment: The college offers degrees in architecture, interior design, geodesign, sustainable design, construction management, and landscape architecture.
  • Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce: As its name suggests, degrees are clustered around design, engineering and commerce. Undergraduate and graduate programs include graphic design communication, animation, textile design, fashion design, engineering, industrial design, accounting, finance, management, fashion merchandising and management, the Strategic Design MBA and the Innovation MBA. The college has been recognized by Core77 and Philadelphia Business Journal (among others) for its unique pedagogic approach. The college was named after alumnus Maurice Kanbar in 2012 in appreciation of his $15m gift to the university.
  • College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts: The college offers degrees in biology, chemistry, communications, pre-medical studies, law and society, environmental sustainability, occupational therapy, midwifery and psychology among others. Its physician assistant program is ranked among the top in the nation.
  • School of Continuing and Professional Studies: The following Bachelor of Science degrees are available and offered in an accelerated format: Behavioral and Health Services, Health Sciences, Health Services Management, Human Resource Management, Information Technology, Law Enforcement Leadership, Leadership in Homeland Security, Leadership in Emergency Services, Organizational Leadership and Pre-MBA. Associate of Science Degrees are offered in: Occupational Therapy Assistant Studies and in Health and Human Services: Radiologic Technology. Its newest degree offering at the doctoral level is Doctor of Management (D.Mgmt) for Strategic Leadership

PhilaU Online


  • Health Services Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Law Enforcement Leadership
  • Organizational Leadership


  • Disaster Medicine and Management
  • Innovation MBA (iMBA)
  • Midwifery Completion
  • Sustainable Design


The university's 100-acre (40 ha) wooded campus is located ten minutes northwest of Center City, Philadelphia on SEPTA's Chestnut Hill West commuter rail line. The campus consists of fifty-two buildings, including classrooms, laboratories, studios, the Paul J. Gutman Library, resident facilities, an exhibition gallery, and the latest additions, the 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) Kanbar Campus Center for students, faculty and staff; the Gallagher Athletic, Recreation and Convocation Center; the LEED Gold Center for Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design; the PhilaU Residences at Falls Center, and the innovative DEC Center. A subsidiary campus is located in Bucks County.[5]

In addition to its major properties, PhilaU runs the Philadelphia University Research Center, which is housed in a restored textile mill (originally opened in 1864) in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, just south of the main campus. The research center contains both the Engineering and Design Institute and the Laboratory for Engineered Human Protection.[6]


Official athletics logo.

The Thomas Jefferson University sports teams are known as the Jefferson Rams. The merged school chose to retain PhilaU's nickname, and the athletic program follows the overall institution in using the branding of "Jefferson" when describing the university as a whole.

The university is known for its men's basketball program, particularly coach Herb Magee, who became the most successful men's basketball coach in NCAA history on February 23, 2010, and was inducted into the Class of 2011 of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Now in his 46th season, Magee is celebrating 54 years at Philadelphia University as a student, player and coach, highlighted by an NCAA College Division Basketball Championship in 1970. Magee was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by President Stephen Spinelli Jr. at Philadelphia University's 125th Commencement in 2009.[1]

The university is also known for its women's basketball program under Athletic Director and Women's Basketball Coach Tom Shirley. Shirley, who has been the University’s director of athletics since 1992, has won 607 games, which places him sixth on the NCAA DII career wins list and 30th on the NCAA all-divisions career coaching wins list. On January 19, 2011, Shirley took his 600th win as the Rams defeated Chestnut Hill College 76–60.

It is also known for its baseball program, particularly for retired coach Don Flynn.

Bob File was one of the top players in the history of PhilaU Rams men's baseball program.[citation needed]

In the 2006–2007 season, Philadelphia University started a rowing program under head coach Chris O'Brien. In its inaugural season it won the Dad Vail Regatta in the Women's Novice Heavy Eight. The 2008–2009 season was also notable for the success of the men's and women's tennis teams, with both winning the CACC (Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference). In its inaugural season in the fall of 2012, the PhilaU Rugby Football Club (or PURFC), a Division III team, had a 1–4 record. Current presidents of the team are Dan Wallace and Mike Blimmel.[citation needed]

University Presidents

  • Theodore C. Search (1884–1888)
  • Edward W. France (1888–1940)
  • Bertrand W. Hayward (1954–1973)[7]
  • James Gallagher (1984–2007)
  • Stephen Spinelli, Jr. (2007–present)

Notable alumni


External links

Coordinates: 40°01′23″N 75°11′31″W / 40.023°N 75.192°W / 40.023; -75.192