Peirce College Celebrates 145th Birthday

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Peirce College marks 145th birthday with Founders Day

Peirce College Celebrates 145 years September 2010

Main Entrance on 1420 Pine Street Yesterday & Today

Peirce College Classrooms Yesterday & Today

Peirce College LibraryYesterday & Today

Yesterday Reading RoomToday Alumni Hall Meeting Room

September 19, 1865Thomas May Peirce founds the Union Business College, established as a basis for a new kind of practical, business education in the post-Civil War years. In its first year, Peirce enrolled 550 students. The College was later renamed Peirce College of Business as it continued to expand and gain notoriety.

The Harrison Building, also known as Handel and Haydn Hall, was the first home of the Union Business college. This 1865 sketch depicts the buildings long Eighth Street frontage.

Educating WomenThe idea of practical, career-oriented education for women encountered a great deal of cultural resistance in 19th century America, but Dr. Peirce made sure that his school was at the forefront of providing education for women, opening a Ladies Department and the Ladies Institute of Art. Perseverance paid off, with over 300 women attending by 1888. In 1910, Peirce announced the Secretarial course program, "designed particularly to prepare young women for secretarial positions, although it will be open to men." Today, Peirce is a leading provider of business education for women in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

1915Peirce finds a new home, moves to its current location at 1420 Pine Street. Facilities were state of the art, with a library, restaurant, gymnasium, showers, bowling alley, elevators, and filtered drinking water delivered to fountains every day.Old cafeteria (top left), admissions office (top right), and club room (bottom left)1917Peirce is renamed the Peirce School of Business Administration. Special "War Courses" were taught to meet the demand for clerical workers in the public and draft-depleted private sectors. These courses were offered to the local Armed Forces at no charge. Peirce continued to refine its courses with the addition of Real Estate Law and Conveyencing.

1920Peirce restructures, offering a two-year option in the Business Administration curriculum. These were university-level business programs, without the general "cultural" requirements.

1950sPeirce offers a number of specialized certificate programs within "growing" occupations such as medical and airline secretaries and receptionists. Peirce's Office Automation Division opens in 1959 and is thought to be the first Business Data Processing educational program in the Eastern United States. Degrees in Arts and Sciences, as well as a Liberal Arts degree are now offered, with approval from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

1964Peirce begins its centennial year, and becomes Peirce Junior College with the ability to grant associate degrees. By the late 1960s, overall enrollment approaches 2,000.

1970s and 1980sPeirce's success is fueled by large enrollments attracted to its practical business and technology programs. In 1981, Dr. Raymond C. Lewin becomes the first College President not to bear the Peirce name. President Lewin reinforces Peirce's historical commitment to leadership in business education, maintains computer-related courses and, in 1985, establishes a Paralegal Studies program. The Paralegal Studies program gained the approval of the American Bar Association and quickly becomes one of the Colleges more popular offerings.1990sJuly 1991 Arthur J. Lendo, Ph.D., is named President of Peirce. Peirce continues to strengthen its leadership position in the region through educational innovation and strategic partnerships with employers. Student enrollments reach all-time records.1994 Peirce pioneers the Corporate College, spurred by the need of corporations and government agencies to guarantee a quality workforce. The entire Business Administration degree is delivered to students at their respective places of employment. Between 1991 and 1995, enrollment grows by 50%.1997 The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Education grants Peirce College the right to assume four-year collegiate status and to award the Bachelor of Science degree for programs in Business Administration, Information Technology, Court Reporting, and Paralegal Studies.

2000sPeirce College creates Peirce Online (2000), which enables students to access quality Peirce courses through the Internet.Today, led by current President James J. Mergiotti, who took the helm of the institution in July 2009, Peirce College continues its tradition of educating Philadelphians with expanding degree programs to serve working adult learners. The Colleges bachelors and associate degree programs in the areas of Business, Healthcare, Information Technology and Paralegal Studies are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Did you know International tennis champion Bill Tilden was a Peirce graduate. The 1921 U.S. Open tennis final was an all Peirce event - the victor, Tilden, was pitted against Wallace F. Johnson, also a Peirce school alumnus.

The Peirce Commencement Exercises throughout the years list speakers such as John Wanamaker, Andrew Carnegie, and several ex-presidents, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft.

Peirce was the chosen location for the filming of M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense," starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, in 1998. Peirce faculty and students were witness to the magic of making movies with the transformation of College Hall into St. Anthony's Academy for Boys.

Happy 145th BirthdayPeirce College!