William Penn University

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.

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.


Penn College opened September 24, 1873. The college's name was 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. In 2000, the name was changed again from William Penn College to William Penn University.

In 1916, fire destroyed the original campus and 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.

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 is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

Historic district

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. 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. 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. 1918). 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; which were erected in May 20, 1918. The use of Prairie School architecture is an unusual choice for a collegiate setting, and it exemplifies how its influence grew beyond Illinois. 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.

Student life

Campus Ministries

Per the school's website: "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."

International students

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 Colombia, Rwanda, Brazil, South Africa, Philippines, Australia, Bahamas, Burma (Myanmar), Canada, France, China, Ireland, South Korea, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom.


William Penn teams, nicknamed the Statesmen, compete at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I 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. Women's sports include basketball, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, dance, golf, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball. In 2018, William Penn University added Men's and Women's Lacrosse as well as Men's 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.

Notable alumni

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article "William Penn University", released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.