History of Albright College
Albright College is the oldest institution of higher learning in Berks County and is located on a 118-acre suburban campus nestled at the foot of Mount Penn in Reading, Pa., a city of 80,000.
Moves and Mergers
Albright’s early history involves multiple moves and mergers. The College dates its beginning to the founding of Union Seminary in 1856. The present Albright College was formed by a series of mergers with other institutions of higher learning founded in the 19th century by the Evangelical Association and the United Evangelical Church. Union and Schuylkill Seminaries were not theological seminaries, but were three-year collegiate institutes, the origin of the college’s liberal arts tradition.
Albright Collegiate Institute was founded in 1895 and became Albright College in 1898. Union Seminary, founded in 1856 and rechartered as Central Pennsylvania College in 1887, merged with Albright College in 1902. Schuylkill Seminary, founded in 1881, became Schuylkill College in 1923 and merged with Albright College in 1929. With the merger, Albright moved from its campus in Myerstown, Pa., to Schuylkill College’s location on the present Albright campus.
Origin of the College’s Name
Jacob Albright, after whom the College is named, was a Pennsylvania German evangelical preacher and the founder of the Evangelical Association (later the Evangelical United Brethren Church). He was born in 1759 as Johannes Jacob Albrecht. His family changed their name to Albright after his death in 1808.
The Evangelical Association was a German-speaking denomination with beliefs similar to those of the Methodist Church. “The Life and Times of Jacob Albright” by Kenneth R. Good ’47 tells the story of Jacob Albright.
From its earliest history, the College’s rigorous liberal arts curriculum has long maintained an interdisciplinary focus. Albright’s hallmarks are connecting fields of learning, collaborative teaching and learning, and a flexible curriculum that allows students to create an individualized education. Fully half of Albright students have concentrations that combine two or three fields of learning. In a recent four year period, 92% of all students who graduated had combined both a liberal arts and a workforce development component into their degree program. This longstanding commitment is represented in the college’s seal.
Presidents of Albright College
Albright College (Myerstown)
- 1898-1902 Clellan Asbury Bowman
- 1902-1908 James D. Woodring
- 1908-1909 Clellan Asbury Bowman
- 1909-1915 John Franklin Dunlap
- 1915-1923 Levi C. Hunt
- 1923-1929 Clellan Asbury Bowman
Albright College (Reading)
- 1928-1932 Warren F. Teel
- 1932-1938 John W. Klein
- 1938-1965 Harry V. Masters
- 1965-1978 Arthur L. Schultz
- 1979-1979 Morley Mays (interim)
- 1979-1991 David G. Ruffer
- 1991-1992 Marvin Wachman (interim)
- 1992-1999 Ellen S. Hurwitz
- 1999-2004 Henry A. Zimon
- 2004-2005 David C. Stinebeck (interim)
- 2005-2017 Lex O. McMillan III
- 2017- Jacquelyn S. Fetrow ’82
Religious Tradition and Affiliation with the United Methodist Church
Today, Albright College is a multifaith community, with associate chaplains representing a number of faith traditions. Historically, Albright College has been, and continues to be, affiliated with the United Methodist Church. In 2005, Albright formally reaffirmed its affiliation with the Church, noting the College’s historic roots in the Evangelical and Methodist tradition, as well as a strong present-day relationship with the Eastern and Central Pennsylvania Conferences and the Wyoming Conference of the Church.
Jacob Albright, after whom the College is named, was a Pennsylvania German evangelical preacher. (He was born in 1759 as Johannes Jacob Albrecht. His family changed their name to Albright after his death in 1808.) “The Life and Times of Jacob Albright” by Kenneth R. Good ’47 tells the story of Jacob Albright.
Greatly influenced by the teaching of the Methodist Church as a young man, Jacob Albright became the founder of the Evangelical Association, later the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The beliefs of the Evangelical Association and the Methodist Church were closely related. In 1968 the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church merged to become the United Methodist Church.
Today, Albright College is a multifaith community. Its student organizations, including Albright Christian Fellowship and Hillel, and its associate chaplains represent a number of faith traditions. The Chaplain’s Office and the Multi Faith Center, at 1811 Linden Street, together provide a wide variety of programs and services.
History of Spiritual and Religious Ties of Albright College
Evangelical Association (1803 – 1922)
- 1803 Evangelical Association started by Jacob Albright.
- 1856 Evangelical Association establishes Union Seminary, New Berlin Pa.
- 1881 Evangelical Association establishes Schuylkill Seminary, Reading, Pa.
- 1887 Union Seminary becomes Central Pennsylvania College under its affiliation with the Evangelical Association.
United Evangelical Church (1895 – 1922)
- 1895 United Evangelical Church formed by members of the Evangelical Association after a schism within the association.
- 1895 United Evangelical Church establishes Albright Collegiate Institute, Myerstown Pa.
- 1898 Albright Collegiate Institute becomes Albright College at Myerstown.
- 1902 Central Pennsylvania College (formerly Union Seminary) merges into Albright College at Myerstown, changing its affiliation from the Evangelical Association to the United Evangelical Church.
- 1902 Schuylkill Seminary moves to the present Albright campus, purchasing what is today Selwyn Hall.
- 1905 Schuylkill Seminary creates the School of Theology associated with the Evangelical Association.
Evangelical Church (1922 – 1946)
- 1922 Evangelical Association and United Evangelical Church reunite to become the Evangelical Church.
- 1923 Schuylkill Seminary becomes Schuylkill College.
- 1923 Schuylkill Seminary School of Theology becomes the Evangelical School of Theology, more commonly known as “The Angel Factory.” This is a completely independent college located on the second floor of what is today Masters Hall.
- 1928 Albright College at Myerstown and Schuylkill College merge to become Albright College at Reading.
- 1928 The Evangelical School of Theology constructs its own building, which is today known as Teel Hall.
Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946 – 1968)
- 1946 Evangelical Church merges with the United Brethren Church to form The Evangelical United Brethren Church.
- 1954 Evangelical School of Theology merges with Bonebrake Theological Seminary of Dayton, Ohio, to become the United Theological Seminary (UTS), moving all staff and students to Dayton and giving Teel Hall back to Albright College. UTS is still in operation today in Dayton.
The United Methodist Church (1968 – Present)
- 1968 Evangelical United Brethren Church merges with Methodist Church to become The United Methodist Church.
The Albright College seal was designed in 1902, followed by the composition of the school’s Alma Mater in 1903.
Composed by H.L. Bagenstose, professor of English language, literature and education
(first verse, chorus twice)
Come cheer Alma Mater with song and with laughter.
And fling abroad her colors, Red and White.
O’er hill, dale and valley now bid the echoes rally,
and sing aloud the praises of Albright.
Hail! Hail! The Red and the White!
Hail Alma Mater with a cheer!
With eyes bright and glancing,
the Red and White advancing,
We’ll sing the praise of Alma Mater dear.