William Penn University

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Coordinates: 41°18′32″N 92°38′53″W / 41.3090°N 92.6481°W / 41.3090; -92.6481

William Penn University
Type Private university
Established 1873
Affiliation Quakers[1]
President John E.E. Ottosson
Students 1,550
Location Oskaloosa, Iowa, U.S.
Campus Rural
Colors Navy blue and Gold          
Mascot Statesmen/Lady Statesmen


Penn College Historic District
The Spencer Chapel.jpeg
Spencer Memorial Chapel (1923)
Area 13.75 acres (5.56 ha)
Architect A.T. Simmons
Proudfoot, Bird and Rawson
Architectural style Prairie School
Colonial Revival
MPS Quaker Testimony in Oskaloosa MPS
NRHP Reference # 96000391[2]
Added to NRHP April 4, 1996

William Penn University is a private, liberal arts university in Oskaloosa, Iowa, United States. It was founded by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1873 as Penn College. In 1933, the name was changed to William Penn College, and finally to William Penn University in 2000.

In 2007, Musco Lighting, also in Oskaloosa, donated $12 million to the school for various projects—the biggest single gift in the school's history. The money was to be used for 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) of new structures including student recreation, classrooms, laboratories, and a stand-alone Industrial Technology Center building called the Musco Technology Center (MTC), which is home for the expanding Digital Communication Program.[3]

The university's athletic teams compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The university is a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Before 2000, the school was a part of the NCAA Division III.


William Penn University's ideal of providing quality education has not changed in nearly 140 years. It has always provided equal access to quality education, without discrimination towards a person's race, gender, age, religion, or national origin. In 1873, the college debated its naming to either Penn College or John Bright College. Penn College opened September 24, 1873 with John W. Woody as its first President, and had its first graduate, Linda Ninde, in 1875. The college grew at a rapid pace till it reached its full maturity in 1910 under President Rosenburg, who under his term, completed the college building, doubled attendance, and enriched and expanded studies.[4] The college's name was legally changed from Penn College to William Penn College in 1933, sparking a controversy whether or not the institution had ceased to exist as an educational institution. That matter was settled once and for all by the Iowa Supreme Court which ruled that Penn College had not ceased to exist as an educational institution.[5] In the year 2000, the name was changed again from William Penn College to William Penn University.

In 1916, fire destroyed the original campus. Flames that began on the third floor of Old Penn Hall spread to a tank of chemicals, causing an explosion that scattered fire in all directions. Insufficient water pressure made it impossible to fight the fire. Trying to remove college records, Penn's business manager Robert Williams and freshman student Harry Oakley were killed when the four-ton college bell crashed through the main building and buried them beneath it.

William Penn has always welcomed students of diverse and varying backgrounds. During the depression, students sometimes gave cows and lambs to pay their tuition. After World War II, Penn College actively recruited Japanese-American students from relocation camps. Penn has one of the most diverse student populations in the state of Iowa.

In 1995, William Penn's 'College for Working Adults' was founded, which enrolls non-traditional students in an evening program of accelerated study. In January 2000 the college returned to the NAIA Division II. William Penn University enrolls students from throughout the U.S. and the world. William Penn is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.[6]

Historic district[edit]

Part of the campus has been set aside as a nationally recognized historic district that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.[2] At the time of its nomination it contained ten resources, which included one contributing site, four contributing buildings, two contributing structures, two non-contributing buildings, and one non-contributing structure.[7] The focus of the district is the Quadrangle, which is the contributing site. Penn Hall (1917), Lewis Hall (1917), the Central Heating Plant (1917), and Spencer Memorial Chapel (1923) are the historic buildings. The historic structures are two Memorial Gates (c. 1920). The Southeast Memorial Gate is located at the intersection of North Market Street and Trueblood Avenue. The Southwest Memorial Gate is located at the entrance to a vehicular drive off of Trueblood Avenue. They were gifts of the classes of 1918-1920 to honor their classmates who died in World War I. Bloomington, Illinois architect A.T. Simmons designed the conceptual plan for the campus and the plans for individual buildings. He also designed the memorial gates. The use of Prairie School architecture is an unusual choice for a collegiate setting, and it exemplifies how its influence grew beyond Illinois.[7] The Spencer Memorial Chapel is an exception. It was designed by the prominent Des Moines architectural firm of Proudfoot, Bird and Rawson in the Colonial Revival style.


At William Penn University, students take pride in academics, and the university strives to offer them exciting opportunities. The college has a 15:1 student-teacher ratio. Penn has many career majors to choose from, including applied technology, business administration, education, health and life sciences, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and many academic minors.

College for Working Adults[edit]

The William Penn University College for Working Adults is a program for working professionals or others who may have difficulty finding time for traditional college attendance. It operates satellite campuses in Clive and online. Upon enrollment, students choose from a select number of degree programs as the traditional campus.

Student life[edit]

Campus Ministries[edit]

At William Penn University, students are encouraged, but not required, to participate in religious life programming. Programming sponsored by Campus Ministries is Christian in orientation and interdenominational in nature. Campus Ministry assists students to explore questions of faith in a nurturing environment and discover spiritual resources to face life's challenges.”[8]

International students[edit]

William Penn University offers international students the experience of total immersion into American academic and cultural life. Countries currently represented in the student population include Rwanda, Brazil, South Africa, Philippines, Australia, Bahamas, Burma (Myanmar), Canada, France, China, Ireland, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.


William Penn teams, nicknamed the Statesmen, compete at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II level, in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HACC); The Statesmen formerly competed in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III level until 2000. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, dance, golf, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball.

The men's basketball teams have had significant success, finishing as the runner up in the 2013 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament. In 2014 William Penn set a record for points scored in the NAIA National Basketball Tournament.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Quaker Colleges, Universities and Study Centers
  2. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ Schaffer, Michael. "William Penn recipient of $12 million - Oskaloosa Herald - November 16, 2007". Oskaloosa Herald. Retrieved 2011-03-11. 
  4. ^ Watson, S. Arthur (1971). William Penn College: A Product and A Producer. Oskaloosa, IA: William Penn College. 
  5. ^ "In Re Hagan's Will, 234 IOWA 1001, 14 N.W.2d 638". Westlaw. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  6. ^ [1] Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ a b William C. Page. "Penn College Historic District" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  8. ^ [2] Official site
  9. ^ "http://kiwaradio.com/sports/dordt-mens-season-ends-in-double-ot-at-national-tournament/". KIWA Radio. Retrieved 8 April 2014.  External link in |title= (help)
  10. ^ "2002-2003 Wrestling Roster". Retrieved 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  11. ^ "Joseph Benavidez UFC Bio". Retrieved 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. ^ http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php/4086-Casey-Fien-has-been-a-find-for-the-Twins
  13. ^ "Idaho Governor John Michiner Haines". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Jerry Kutzler Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Kevin Ritz Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  16. ^ Gifford, Jody (2012-11-07). "Rob Taylor Wins Iowa House District 44 - Government - Waukee, IA Patch". Waukee.patch.com. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  17. ^ "2,500 give final salute to coach Ed Thomas". Des Moines Register. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Dr. D. Elton Trueblood, Quaker Scholar, Author". New York Times. 25 December 1994. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  19. ^ Slater, Darryl (September 3, 2013). "Jets nose tackle Damon Harrison took circuitous path to possible starting role in NFL". The Star-Ledger. 
  20. ^ Cimini, Rich (September 24, 2013). "New York Jets' Damon Harrison, from water boy to starting nose tackle". ESPN. 
  21. ^ "Abel Trujillo UFC Bio". Retrieved 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]