The College of Wooster draws together approximately 2,000 students and 164 faculty from diverse cultural backgrounds into an academic community committed to intellectual achievement, personal integrity, and respect for others.
The liberal arts involve the study of human achievements in extending the boundaries of knowledge - of efforts to comprehend the unknown, to formulate values, to evolve and express a sense of human understanding. Wooster believes that such study will provide the best means of acquiring the capacity and perspective necessary in our complex and everchanging world and the insight and vision to shape the future.
The College believes, moreover, that all liberal education must be a continuing education that offers increase and renewal to the end of life. It does not assume that everything can and must be taught. It seeks, rather, a liberal education that will truly free undergraduates for a lifetime of intellectual adventure, one that will help them meet new situations as they arise, one that will allow them to develop harmoniously and independently.
Students should expect to discover new worlds, both in courses and in the experiences they will have on the campus and in off-campus study. They will be expected to explore the intellectual life beyond the course work and experiences described elsewhere in this catalogue. They will discover the necessity of submitting their own patterns of thought to the rigors of analysis so that they are aware of identifiable criteria of growth.
From their origin, the liberal arts have been the essential preparation for the professions and for roles of leadership in society. They remain so. Wooster students who discover they are fascinated by chemistry or geology may pursue their work in medical school or in graduate study leading to a career in industry. The painter, the writer, the actor, or the musician may go on to a lifetime of performance and creation. Others will enter law, business, social work, teaching, the ministry, or foreign service. Whatever their choices, students will gain a deepened awareness of the possibilities available to them; Wooster’s educational program is designed to give flexibility in pursuing differing paths toward competence and achievement.
Wooster has chosen to remain a small and predominantly residential college because its primary educational purpose is the intellectual fulfillment of the individual. We believe that the easy and informal association between students and faculty possible in this kind of institution fosters intellectual growth.
A number of interdependent groups enhance the educational aims of the College. While students have the greatest share in the regulation of life within the residence halls and in matters relating to student government, members of the faculty and administrative staff, through the Campus Council, also participate in the governance of the social life of the College. Students in turn have a significant influence on the academic program through membership on faculty committees dealing with the structure of the curriculum and the educational life of the College.
Wooster values its religious heritage and is committed to exploring its meaning for today’s world. The College’s commitment to the spiritual development and religious understanding of students is embodied in a religious perspectives requirement for all students, active student religious groups, and a covenantal relationship with the regional synod of the Presbyterian Church, USA. Westminster Presbyterian Church is the congregation-in-residence on the campus and assists in encouraging students to continue active participation in congregational life. Other congregations, the local Synagogue and Unitarian Fellowship also welcome students. Annual programs like the Clergy Academy of Religion, Theologian-in-Residence and Lay Academy of Religion provide opportunities for students to participate in discussion and exploration of important issues with members of the wider religious community. Active student groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Hillel at The College of Wooster, the Muslim Student Association, the Newman Catholic Student Association, Sisters in Spirit, and Wooster Christian Fellowship encourage both a fuller appreciation of one’s own religious heritage and a better understanding of the traditions and beliefs of others, as do courses in the Department of Religious Studies. This religious dimension lends an important tone to campus life and provides students an opportunity to make their own informed choices and to experience religion as a vital option for the creative person.
As partners in liberal learning, Wooster students and faculty attempt in their individual pursuit of knowledge to acquire a sense of the relatedness of its parts, a perspective on its past, a basis for critical judgment, and an ability to bring informed and rigorous reflection to bear on contemporary problems. Through all their work students attempt to identify those values that give direction to human conduct. They grow in mind and spirit as they become increasingly aware of the complexity of human existence and as they learn to cope with ambiguity. They learn to ask the important question, to cut through irrelevance to the heart of issues, and ultimately to shape knowledge into vision and action. These observations and those which follow are an expression of the Mission Statement of the College as adopted by its Board of Trustees.
Mission, Core Values, Graduate Qualities
Our institutional purpose - Why we exist and what we seek to accomplish:
The College of Wooster is a community of independent minds, working together to prepare students to become leaders of character and influence in an interdependent global community. We engage motivated students in a rigorous and dynamic liberal education. Mentored by a faculty nationally recognized for excellence in teaching, Wooster graduates are creative and independent thinkers with exceptional abilities to ask important questions, research complex issues, solve problems, and communicate new knowledge and insight.
Wooster’s Core Values
The values that govern our shared pursuits and the ideas that we hold true:
- Education in the Liberal Arts Tradition
We believe that the most valuable approach to undergraduate education engages each student in a course of study that cultivates curiosity and develops independent judgment, creativity, breadth, depth, integration of knowledge, and intellec tual skills in the tradition of liberal education tuned for the contemporary era.
- A Focus on Research and Collaboration
At Wooster, faculty and students are co-learners, collaborating in liberal inquiry. Our faculty’s commitment to excellence in teaching is nationally recognized for enabling students to realize their full potential as engaged scholars. We embrace unique pedagogical principles at Wooster: that research and teaching are integrated forms of inquiry, and that faculty and students share a common purpose in their pursuits of knowledge, insight, and creative expression.
- A Community of Learners
Wooster is a residential liberal arts college. As such, we believe the learning process unfolds on our campus and beyond, in conversations in classrooms and residence halls, libraries and studios, laboratories and on playing fields, and through the relationships that develop between and among students, faculty and staff and which endure long after graduation. We recognize that the very process of living together educates, and that much of the learning that is part of our mission takes place through artistic expression, the performance of music, theater, and dance, athletics, community involvement, and in the myriad student organizations that infuse vitality in campus life. We embrace a holistic philosophy of education and seek to nurture the physical, social, and spiritual well-being of our students.
- Independence of Thought
We are a community of independent minds, working together. We place the highest value on collegiality, collaboration, openness to persons and ideas in all of their variety, and the free exchange of different points of view. We vigorously champion academic freedom, and seek to sustain a campus culture where the understanding of each is made more complete through an on-going process of dialogue with others who think differently.
- Social and Intellectual Responsibility
As a community of learners, we hold ourselves to high standards of sound evidence, careful reasoning, proper attribution, and intellectual and personal integrity in all activities of teaching, learning, research, and governance. We recognize the privilege of being able, collectively, to pursue the mission of the College. We therefore seek to extend the benefits of learning beyond the campus and beyond ourselves, endeavoring to analyze problems, create solutions, exercise civic and intellectual leadership, and contribute to the welfare of humanity and the environment.
- Diversity and Inclusivity
Wooster actively seeks students, faculty, and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds, starting places, experiences, and beliefs. We believe that achieving our educational purpose is only possible in a diverse community of learners. Therefore, we value members who bring a diversity of identities and beliefs to our common purpose, and who reflect a diversity of voices as varied as those our students will engage upon graduation.
Graduates of the College should demonstrate the following personal and intellectual qualities:
- Independent Thinking, through the ability to:
Engage in critical and creative thinking
Devise, formulate, research, and bring to fruition a complex and creative project
Embody the intellectual curiosity, passion, and self-confidence necessary for life-long learning
- Integrative and Collaborative Inquiry, through the ability to:
Synthesize knowledge from multiple disciplines
Actively integrate theory and practice
Engage in effective intellectual collaboration
- Dynamic Understanding of the Liberal Arts, through the ability to:
Understand disciplinary knowledge in arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and physical and natural sciences
Evaluate evidence using methodologies from multiple disciplines
Demonstrate quantitative, textual, visual, and digital literacy
Employ deep knowledge, insight, and judgment to solve real world problems
- Effective Communication, through the ability to:
Exhibit skill in oral, written, and digital communication
Engage in effective discourse through active listening, questioning, and reasoning
- Global Engagement and Respect for Diversity, through the ability to:
Understand the histories, causes, and implications of global processes
Engage with the global community through knowledge of a second language
Understand and respect diverse cultural and religious traditions
Display self-reflective awareness of their role as citizens in a diverse local, national, and global community
- Civic and Social Responsibility, through the ability to:
Appreciate and critique values and beliefs including their own
Demonstrate ethical citizenship and leadership and embody a concern for social justice
Exhibit a commitment to community and serving others
College Code of Academic Integrity
The College of Wooster has operated under an academic honor code since the beginning of 1962-1963 when it was initiated by students. The Preamble to the Code of Academic Integrity states:
The academic program at The College of Wooster seeks to promote the intellectual development of each student and the realization of that individual’s potential for creative thinking, learning, and understanding. In achieving this goal, each student must learn to use his/her mind rigorously, imaginatively, and independently.
An atmosphere in which each student does his/her own work, except under circumstances in which the instructor indicates that additional aid is legitimate and profitable, is necessary for genuine academic mastery. This implies that it is each student’s responsibility neither to seek nor to use aid, but to utilize his/her own mind, talent, and inner resources to the fullest extent possible. It also places on each student an obligation not to offer or make available unauthorized sources of aid to other students, knowing that such aid is detrimental to those students and to the College community. Finally, each student must be responsible for the maintenance of an atmosphere of academic integrity by confronting violators or reporting any actions that violate its principles, since such violations ultimately harm all member of the community. These principles merely carry out the general purpose of the College to be a community in which the members find it right and necessary to promote the fullest learning by everyone. In other words, a violation of the Code of Academic Integrity conflicts with the values, work and purpose of the entire College community and is not merely a private matter between an individual faculty member and a student.
For details regarding the complete Code of Social Responsibility, including principles and policies, please consult the Scot’s Key.
History of the College
Wooster was founded in 1866 by Presbyterians who wanted to do “their proper part in the great work of educating those who are to mold society and give shape to all its institutions.” The goal of the first Board of Trustees was to “establish an institution with broad foundations and facilities equal to the best in the land, capable of preparing men and women for every department of life, for the highest walks of science and all its forms.” A citizen of Wooster, Ephraim Quinby, donated a venerable oak grove set on twenty-two acres on a hill overlooking the Killbuck Valley, and the Trustees of the fledgling institution spent the next four years raising funds so that the school might open with buildings, books, a laboratory, scientific equipment, experienced faculty members, and an adequate endowment.
On September 8, 1870, Wooster opened its doors as a university, with a faculty of five and a student body of thirty men and four women. By 1915 there were eight divisions, including a medical school whose faculty outnumbered those in the college of arts and sciences. Gradually, however, the institution’s definition as a liberal arts college had been evolving. In 1915 a traumatic episode occurred: there was a bitter fight over whether Wooster should establish yet another division within its structure. At first, the Trustees sided with the minority of the faculty which favored the new division, and then, after the resignation of President Holden, reversed themselves and supported the majority of the faculty which wished to devote itself entirely to undergraduates in the liberal arts. It was an angry struggle in which friends and colleagues of thirty years parted company. Speaking in Chapel in 1930, Howard Lowry, who was to become Wooster’s seventh President, gave some sense of the conflict which had occurred. As he recalled it, those who had triumphed in 1915 had told his entering class in 1919 that Wooster was “not a university nor a vocational school but a college of the liberal arts… .They told us to postpone for four years all training which would be directly useful and assured us that upon graduation we should be quite good for nothing. They summoned us to a way that was long and hard and full of grief. For ours was the impatience of youth and we could scarcely wait to give the world our impress. There were fortunes to be made, bridges to be built, and marriages to be contracted. We were in a frenzy to go places and do things. For many of us it meant entering seriously into debt and accepting questionable sacrifices from our loved ones, but down in our hearts we knew somehow that, if the world had in it truly educated men and women, here they were and they were worth attending to.” Thus, after the great conflict, Wooster, in the words of Dean Elias Compton, gradually “lopped off one appendage after another” and became a college of the liberal arts devoting itself exclusively to undergraduates.
An aspiration for excellence marked the College from its inception. Jonas Notestein, a student in Wooster’s first graduating class, wrote that “a kind of prophetic feeling possessed us all that this was to be a great institution after a time, that we were starting ideals and setting standards and that it became us to do our very best so that the after generations of students would have something to be proud of.” The refrain of “something to be proud of” echoes through the years: the “habit of mastery” which became the trademark of the early faculty; the rebuilding of the College after the great fire of 1901, five buildings replacing one within a year’s time; President Wishart’s vigorous defense of the freedom of inquiry in a clash with William Jennings Bryan over the examination at Wooster of the subject of evolution; the practice of student research projects which led Karl Compton to work with George Bacon on x-rays in the early 1900s; Arthur Compton’s receipt of a Nobel Prize in 1927; and the establishment by Howard Lowry of Independent Study and the faculty leave program in the 1940s.
Another important dimension of Wooster’s history is its early dedication to the education of women. Willis Lord, the first President, made a strong commitment to coeducation, warning the early classes that Wooster had the same expectations of its women as it had of its men and that men and women would be taught in the same classes and pursue the same curriculum. In 1870 this was a controversial policy, and a diary of one of the students who heard the announcement on the first day recorded the following observation: “Coeducation is announced as a feature of the institution. I think favorably of it myself but hear a great many saying that it will be a failure. I have heard ten reasons this afternoon why it must fail.” It did not fail, however, and women quickly assumed positions of leadership in the student body. The first Ph.D. granted by Wooster was given to a woman, Annie Irish, in 1882, and many of the early women graduates made careers for themselves in foreign missions, doing abroad what they could not easily do in this country - founding colleges, administering hospitals, and managing printing houses. Wooster’s concern for the education of women has remained unabated, and more recent women graduates have entered path-breaking careers in business, higher education, and the diplo matic corps.
Likewise, on the matter of race, Wooster was clear from the beginning. The first President declared that Wooster should be a place of studies for all: “The sameness of our origin as men and women carries with it our original and essential equality. Had our national life been the true expression of our national creed, slavery would have been forever impossible. Caste, in whatever name, strikes at the soul of our humanity and liberty.” The first African-American student, Clarence Allen, entered the College in the 1880s, and the promise of the early vision still inspires the College. Today approximately seven percent of Wooster’s student body is African-American. In 1988, Wooster’s Board of Trustees created The Clarence Allen Scholarships to be awarded on the basis of academic merit. These scholarships commemorate the achievements of Wooster’s first African-American graduate a century ago.
Wooster has long emphasized international education. An unusually high percentage of its early graduates went overseas as missionaries, and soon not only their sons and daughters but also the students from their schools were enrolling at Wooster as students. There were special houses for these students where every occupant spoke two or three languages and where friendships developed among students from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. A student living in one of these houses observed: “For much of the time, we were as far removed from the ordinary atmosphere of the surrounding Ohio farm country as if we had actually been transplanted to Asia.” This international presence affected the entire campus, establishing a tradition which continues to influence the College. Today approximately six percent of the student body is international in origin, representing more than 32 different countries. The College supports Modern Foreign Language and Cultural Studies in Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish. In addition, there are programs in East Asian, South Asian, and Latin American Studies. The Comparative Literature and International Relations majors facilitate students’ global understanding through the study of literature, culture, history, economics, and politics. The College supports faculty and curriculum on global issues through the Hales Fund, which has recently funded faculty trips to India, China, Iceland, Cuba, Ghana, and Mexico. Off-campus study provides students with the opportunity to study in more than 60 countries. The recently opened Center for Diversity and Global Engagement, housed in Babcock Hall, provides an array of resources and helps students obtain an integrated view of issues relating to diversity and global understanding.
Religion also played a vital part in the creation of the College. The Articles of Incorporation specify that the purpose of the institution is “the promotion of sound learning and education under religious influences.” Moreover, the College’s motto - Scientia et religio ex uno fonte (Science and religion from one source) - emphasizes the integrated life. For its first hundred years, the College was owned by the Synod of Ohio. In 1969, the Synod of Ohio voted to release ownership of the College and its assets to Wooster’s Board of Trustees, and thus today the College is a fully independent institution which, however, has voluntarily chosen to continue its relationship with The Presbyterian Church (USA) through a Memorandum of Understanding with The Synod of the Covenant.
Wooster was a college born of a faith, a faith that education ought to be concerned with the total implication of things, both with those questions which may be empirically tested and those for which there are no definitive answers. Wooster has always possessed a strong Department of Religious Studies as well as the conviction that there is something beyond men and women which may confer a sense of proportion and worth on their lives and give them purpose and direction, a faith which Arthur Compton defined as “the best we know, on which we would willingly bet our lives.” The expressions of this religious spirit have been many and varied, and in each decade there have been student projects which express the ethical concerns of the time. In the midst of the Depression, Wooster students raised funds to send a graduating senior to India to teach, a tradition which continued until the 1970s. There were rice meals to raise money to assist international students and to bring refugees to this country from Nazi Germany. Today, approximately two-thirds of the College’s students are involved in volunteer service through the Wooster Volunteer Network, an umbrella organization that links College of Wooster students to volunteer organizations in the Wooster, Ohio, national, and international communities. Wooster’s graduates have continued the tradition of being oriented toward service and finding the purpose of their lives in fields through which they can enrich the lives of others. The aspiration to join the ability to think logically with the ability to act morally, to link science with service, to educate the heart as well as the mind, was present from the beginning and continues to inform the College and its graduates today.
From the beginning, science was given a prominent place at the College because it was believed that scientific discovery could only lend greater weight to moral truth; science could, in President Lord’s words, give “silent but eloquent witness to the uncreated and the infinite.” There could be no conflict between reason and faith because of their common source, and whatever the unfettered mind found to be true would be in tune with the infinite harmony of the cosmos; the physical sciences should, therefore, be strong at Wooster. It is extraordinary, given the fierce religious convictions of the women and men who shaped Wooster and the conflict between science and religion in the late nineteenth century, to find the intensity with which these same religious convictions supported a scientific establishment at the College. There was nothing backward about Wooster’s physical sciences whose early graduates included Nobel laureate Arthur Compton and his brother Karl, who became President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This commitment to the sciences has endured in the progressive programs of quality in the departments of Biology, Geology, Physics, Mathematical Sciences, and Chemistry, which, for example, ranks in the top ten in the nation in the percentage of its graduates who eventually receive Ph.D.s.
These are the memories of the past to which the College is entitled: “the habit of mastery,” the faith in liberal learning, the commitment to “put its students in the way of great things,” the commitment to offer studies for all regardless of gender or race, the international and religious dimensions of the College, and the strong commitment to the physical sciences. As Jonas Notestein understood more than a century ago, “It is our glory to dwell, to make a home and to become a part of an order which will go on after our time is finished.” Wooster and its more than 30,000 graduates have inherited this inspiring tradition. In a visit to Wooster, Robert Frost once said that if you had to love something, you could do worse than to give your heart to a college, and that those who attend Wooster have a sense of belonging to a succession of generations originating in the past and stretching into the future.
A strong teaching faculty is Wooster’s paramount asset. All courses are taught by regular faculty members, with senior faculty often teaching introductory courses. The faculty numbers approximately 164 members holding advanced degrees from institutions across the United States and abroad.
While teaching is the pre-eminent commitment of the faculty, the College regards continuing education as a necessity for its faculty no less than its graduates. The benefits students derive from studying with faculty who are committed to developing as teachers and scholars, growing in their respective fields and often exploring new areas in and out of their disciplines, are an essential element of a Wooster education. Wooster’s faculty is professionally active and productive, as reflected in an outstanding record of publications, papers, performances, and other measures of scholarly accomplishment. To support the intellectual life of the faculty, the College has established a generous program of research and study leaves that recognizes the importance of the faculty’s ability to employ new materials, concepts, and technologies in directing student research.
Location and Assets
Wooster is in north-central Ohio. Cleveland is about 60 miles northeast, Columbus 90 miles southwest, and Pittsburgh 120 miles east. Five principal highways run through Wooster - U.S. Routes 30 and 250, and State Routes 3, 585, and 83. Bus service connects Wooster with all parts of the country.
By air, Wooster may be reached through either the Cleveland or Akron-Canton airports. Cleveland-Hopkins Airport is about 50 miles due north of the campus, while Akron-Canton is about 35 miles east and north. The Wayne County Airport is about 5 miles northeast of Wooster and has a 5,200-foot paved east-west runway. A city of 26,000, Wooster is the county seat of Wayne County. It has representative industrial activity and is the business center for a rich agricultural district. The College grounds, comprising some 240 acres, are in a residential section about a mile north and east of the public square. On the south side of town is the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, an integral part of The Ohio State University.
As of June 30, 2019, the assets of the College were valued at $596 million. Investment in buildings, equipment, and grounds at the time amounted to approximately $175 million. The Endowment Funds at current market value, including trustee-designated endowment funds, totaled $320 million
Institutional Accreditation and Memberships
The College is authorized to grant degrees by the State of Ohio Board of Regents. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) (www.ncahlc.org). Individuals may contact the Commission at:
The Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, Illinois 60604-1411
Phone: 1-800-621-7440 / 312-263-0456
The College of Wooster has been an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music since 1947. The College’s Teacher Preparation Program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The College’s program in Chemistry is approved by the American Chemical Society.
The College is an institutional member of the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio, the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Five Colleges of Ohio, the Great Lakes Colleges Association, Inc. (GLCA) and the Global Liberal Arts Alliance, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the National Collegiate Athletics Association, and the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, Incorporated.
The College of Wooster assesses each student’s learning as he or she progresses through the curriculum. Senior Independent Study is a particular focus for assessment as it represents the culmination of a student’s undergraduate academic journey. In addition to the individual-level assessment of learning, the College also has a formal program of systematic assessment of student learning. The inception of this program coincided with faculty approval and adoption of the academic curriculum, A Wooster Education. Out of an initial focus on the general education curriculum has grown an evolving program of assessment of student learning and development that includes general education, graduate qualities, high-impact educational practices, majors and minors, courses, and co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and functions. Departments and programs use their assessment findings to improve pedagogy, enhance programs, and shape Wooster’s curricular and co-curricular offerings. Ultimately, The College of Wooster is committed to continual improvement of student learning and development through assessment as it relates to the educational mission of the College.
Wooster’s program of assessment is a shared experience, characterized by collaborative engagement by faculty, staff, and administrators. The College shares its assessment practices and findings externally as well as internally, and has contributed to the national conversation on assessment in higher education. Faculty and staff have published promising practices and findings about assessment in teaching, assessment, and research journals, and have presented innovations in teaching, learning and assessment at professional conferences. The College has been awarded multi-institutional grants to assess several aspects of a liberal education, and faculty and staff have further participated in other college and university’s multi-institutional grants to assess student learning in the liberal arts. The College has also been a partner campus to the Association for American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) for its Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) project, as part of its Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative.
For more information on educational assessment at The College, please consult the Educational Assessment website.