West Chester University

West Chester, Pennsylvania | C.1871

Photo Credit: Theresa Regan

About 25 miles west of Philadelphia lies West Chester University, one of the most prominent educational institutions in the state of Pennsylvania.

This titan of academia started as a humble private academy that existed from 1812 to 1869. The late 19th century saw many U.S. states taking an interest in funding public education. The private academy was soon renamed the West Chester Normal School. When it welcomed its first class in 1871, it was still privately funded. By 1913, however, the school would be completely funded and managed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

West Chester Normal School would become West Chester State Teachers College in 1927 when the school found success in its four-year teacher education program. It wasn’t until 1962 that a comprehensive liberal arts program would be introduced to West Chester to make it a full-fledged university, prompting a name change to West Chester State College.

West Chester has since earned a reputation as the United State’s center for formal poetry, a poetic style characterized by strict rules on meter and rhyme schemes. Since 1995, West Chester has hosted annual conferences on form and narrative in poetry.

Pictured here is the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, which first opened in 1927. It is the largest performing arts venue on campus with a maximum capacity of 1,202, and is dedicated to Emilie K. Asplundh, class of 1927, who helped fund the renovation of the Philips Building and its concert hall in 1998.

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