Chatham University

A brief history of Chatham University…

Chatham University is a 145-year old educational institution in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that today has over 2,100 undergraduate and graduate students in over 60 degree programs studying on campus or online.

Chatham was chartered on December 11, 1869, under the name Pennsylvania Female College. The Reverend William Trimble Beatty, pastor of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, led a group of Pittsburghers in making the dream to provide women with an education comparable to that which men could receive at the time at "colleges of the first class." The founders were somewhat ahead of their time: 1869 was the year that the National Association of Women's Suffrage was established, and the year John Stuart Mill published The Subjection of Women. Pennsylvania Female College occupied what was then the largest private residence in Allegheny County – the George Berry mansion atop Fifth Avenue in Shadyside. Fifteen faculty and just more than 100 students occupied the 11-acre campus.

In 1890 the name of the institution was changed to Pennsylvania College for Women, and in 1955 the name was changed again to Chatham College in honor of William Pitt, First Earl of Chatham and namesake of the City of Pittsburgh. In 1994, Chatham College expanded around its historic undergraduate women’s college by beginning to offer graduate programs to both men and women with a special emphasis in the health science fields.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted Chatham university status in 2007, which was officially announced on May 1, 2007 and marks Chatham's newest tradition, University Day. On May 1, 2008 Chatham received a gift unequaled in its history: the Eden Hall Campus from the Eden Hall Foundation. The University’s Shadyside Campus expanded in June 2008 to include Chatham Eastside near Bakery Square approximately one mile from Woodland Road and home to many of Chatham’s in-demand health science programs. 

In 2010, Chatham launched the Falk School of Sustainability, and broke ground in 2012 on its new home, Eden Hall Campus–the first campus in the world built from the ground up for the study of sustainability.

On May 1, 2014 Chatham University’s Board of Trustees voted in approval of a resolution that expanded access to a high-quality Chatham undergraduate education to more students, ensured that Chatham can meet the educational needs of its students and the region for the future, and ensured the continuation of Chatham’s 145-year commitment to advancing the causes of women with the founding of the Chatham University Women’s Institute. The resolution, in part, states:

The Board of Trustees hereby approves: (1) the reorganization of Chatham University by academic units within vertically integrated Colleges and Schools; (2) the implementation of coeducation within all Chatham University Colleges and Schools; and (3) alongside the commitment to each student who will attend Chatham University, the creation of structures and programs to preserve Chatham University’s commitment to women’s education and leadership.

In Spring 2014, Chatham opened the first phase of Eden Hall Campus and broke ground on the next phase of construction including development of a residence hall and dining hall.

Chatham Traditions…

Traditions are an integral part of life at Chatham. Familiarity with the traditions is important to fully understand life on Chatham’s campus. Most traditional events involve not only the student, but the faculty, staff, and alumnae as well.

University Colors: Purple and White

Class Colors: Each undergraduate class is pinned with their colors upon their matriculation to the college. Each year, one of the four colors is passed down from graduating seniors to incoming first years.

Opening Convocation marks the traditional opening of the academic and Global Focus year.

Battle of the Classes is a week-long event that has each class competing in several events.

Song Contest has been a tradition at Chatham for more than 70 years.

Candlelight, Fickes Eggnog, and the Holiday Ball is a grand semi-formal event to celebrate the many religious and secular events that fall each December.

Spring Fling is an extended weekend full of activities.

University Day marks the anniversary of Chatham becoming a university and also is the traditional Bucket & Blossom event, when the entire campus community gathers to beautify the University grounds.

Closing Convocation is the traditional closing of the academic year when the undergraduate classes celebrate "Moving Up Day."