Chatham University to celebrate its 150th Anniversary and legacy of furthering sustainability, improving health and empowering women

Chatham University, founded in 1869, is proudly celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019. To honor this milestone, Chatham has planned a year-long celebration that highlights the school’s pioneering contributions to the past, present, and future of sustainability and health, women’s leadership and gender equity, and transformative opportunities in liberal arts education, in Pittsburgh and beyond.

Notable events to honor Chatham’s 150-year legacy throughout 2019 include:

March 12: Hollander Lecture
Featuring Vivian Lowery Derrick ’67, President and CEO of The Bridges Institute, a nonprofit strengthening African governance and leadership by forging trade and social development

April 3: Elsie Hillman Chair Lecture
Featuring New York Times, Maggie Haberman, one of the country's most respected journalists and reliable resources for expert commentary on current events and national issues.

April 28: Chatham University 2019 Spring Commencement
Featuring honorary degree speaker Mary Robinson, the first woman to be elected president of Ireland and advocate for human rights and women’s equality.

October 11: Chatham 150 Celebration Weekend & Reunion Weekend
Featuring a variety of engaging programs, speakers and events culminating in an immersive, interactive, and memorable celebration featuring the sights and sounds of each era of Chatham’s history.

Throughout the anniversary year, Chatham will showcase the legacy, spirit and promise of its mission, including the wide array of achievements from talented students, faculty and alumni, with many opportunities for one-on-one interviews during the year. Chatham is the alma mater of environmental icon and author, Rachel Carson ’29. Her legacy and impact has inspired Chatham’s commitment to sustainability, and shows how a Chatham education helps our 11,000-strong alumni network reshape the world around them.

A selection of our alumni today include: Muriel Bowser ‘94, Mayor of Washington, D.C.; Margy Whitmer ’74, Producer, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood; Betsy Crone ‘67, Political fundraising consultant and co-founder of Emily’s List; Georgena Terry ‘72, Founded Terry Precision Cycling and pioneer in women cycling; Debra McCloskey Todd ‘79, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice; and many more.

About Chatham University: from 1869 to 2019 — and beyond
The institution now known as Chatham University first began in 1869 as Presbyterian-founded Pennsylvania Female College (PFC). While in 1869 the University of Pittsburgh had already existed for nearly a century, had only educated men. The decision to build a women’s college in Pittsburgh was seen as a pivotal move for the city, since establishing a local hub for women’s education would help retain the city’s female population, rather than seeing them leave to pursue education elsewhere. As a result, educated women became an integral part of Pittsburgh’s economic and social trajectory for the next 150 years.

In its first year, 100 undergraduate women enrolled at the Pennsylvania Female College to pursue lives of purpose, value, and fulfilling work. Today, the institution now known as Chatham University enrolls 2,200 men and women in undergraduate and graduate programs. The school looks different, but its dedication to educating tomorrow’s innovators remains the same.

Chatham’s legacy as Pittsburgh’s original college for women was the first in a long line of pioneering initiatives that helped change Pittsburgh and higher education as a whole, including:

  • offering one of the country’s first academic programs in social work in 1908

  • the revolutionary environmental impact of Silent Spring author and Chatham alumna Rachel Carson in the 1960s

  • a longtime commitment to conservation and ecology on Chatham’s Shadyside Campus, which includes a 32-acre arboretum featuring over 100 species of flora

  • the award-winning Words Without Walls program, in which MFA in Creative Writing students teach creative writing skills at the Allegheny County Jail and Sojourner House

  • advancing women’s leadership and gender equity through the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE), Women’s Business Center (WBC), Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP), and the Women’s Institute

  • opening the world’s first campus built from the ground up for the study of sustainability, Eden Hall Campus, in 2014

Chatham’s commitment to ecological excellence has also earned the school many awards, including being one of just 24 schools named to the Princeton Review’s 2018 Green College Honor Roll, with a perfect Green Rating score (99 out of 99), which measures “a school’s performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution.” Chatham’s sustainable initiatives embody the school’s mantra: to create a brighter, healthier tomorrow for us all.

For more information, please bookmark — and check back often, as the site will update regularly throughout 2019 with a collection of historic photos, stories, alumni spotlights, and data drawn from Chatham’s 150 years of educational transformation.

Chatham University