Chatham University

A brief history of Chatham University...

Chatham University, a coeducational institution with three distinctive Colleges, 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.

The College's first curriculum required proficiency of all students in Latin, French, or German; higher mathematics; history; English; natural sciences; systematic Bible history; and Anglo-Saxon. In succeeding years, electives ranging from modern literature to family living were added, and the number of required courses was reduced.

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. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted 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 Eden Hall Foundation. Originally a farm and retreat for the working women of the H.J. Heinz Company, the Eden Hall Campus will be the home of Chatham's new Falk School of Sustainability. The University’s Shadyside Campus expanded in June 2008 to include Chatham Eastside, an office complex at Fifth and Penn avenues approximately one mile from Woodland Road and home to the university’s interior architecture, landscape architecture, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and physician assistant studies programs.

A vision for the 22nd century...

The Falk School of Sustainability, founded June 2009, further expands the potential of the Eden Hall Campus and honors the legacy of its 1929 alumna and founder of the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson. SSE will provide opportunities for the University’s students to earn certificates and degrees through the master’s level. The first program offered through SSE is the Master of Arts in Food Studies, which enrolled 30 students in its inaugural year. SSE will eventually be located at the University's Eden Hall Campus.

In fall 2010 the University selected David M. Hassenzahl, Ph.D. as the founding Dean of the School of Sustainability and the Environment. Dr. Hassenzahl is the coauthor of several books, including Should We Risk It? (Princeton University Press) with Daniel M. Kammen; Environment (J. Wiley and Sons), with Peter Raven and Linda Berg, and, most recently, Visualizing Environmental Science (J. Wiley and Sons), with Linda Berg and Mary Catherine Hager.

Dr. Hassenzahl is a Senior Fellow of the National Council for Science and the Environment, through which his climate change education efforts are supported by the Nation Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Prior to joining Chatham, he served recently as Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Recognition for his work includes the Society for Risk Analysis Outstanding Educator Award, the UNLV Outstanding Department Chair Award, and the UNLV Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award. He serves on the Council of the Society for Risk Analysis, and is Secretary of the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences. In addition to his academic credentials, Dr. Hassenzahl has experience with sustainability and environmental management in both the public and private sectors.

In addition to his responsibilities at Chatham, Dr. Hassenzahl is currently the Principle Investigator for the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation E–Learning (CAMEL) project. CAMEL is a three–year effort funded by the National Science Foundation, though the National Council for Science and Environment (NCSE). Begun in October 2009, CAMEL has begun to improve undergraduate education on climate change causes, consequences, and solutions by engaging a community of faculty members and students in developing an extensive, vetted online collection of high–quality educational materials about the causes, consequences, mitigation, and adaptation associated with climate change. The project provides resources, training, and on–line professional networking opportunities for students and faculty engaged in studying climate change, using cyber–infrastructure built for the NCSE’s Encyclopedia of Earth.

Dr. Hassenzahl holds a B.A. in Environmental Science and Paleontology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy from Princeton University.

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:
Green and White

Chatham College for Women Colors:  Purple and White

CCW Motto: Filiae Nostrae Sicut Antarii Lapides - That our daughters may be as cornerstones (polished after the similitude of a palace) - From Psalm 144

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."


Why Purple & White?

The American and British Suffrage Movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries adopted the colors green, purple and white to advance their causes. According to Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence, treasurer and co-editor of the weekly newspaper Votes for Women, "Purple as everyone knows is the royal colour. It stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity...white stands for purity in private and public is the colour of hope and the emblem of spring." (Spring 1908)

Many women's colleges of the period, including Pennsylvania Female College/Pennsylvania College for Women, adopted these colors as their own in testimony to women's suffrage.  Hence, purple and white remain the colors of Chatham College for Women.