PhilaUCatalogHeader.png

A Brief History of the University

Philadelphia University was founded in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School in the wake of the 1876 Centennial Exposition. A group of textile manufacturers, led by Theodore Search, noticed a sizeable gap between the quality and variety of American textile products and those displayed by European mills. To address this, the group established the School to educate America’s textile workers and managers.

Several years later, the School affiliated with the Pennsylvania Museum (now the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and School of Industrial Art. By the mid-1890's, the School had settled at Broad and Pine streets in downtown Philadelphia. It survived the Depression and entered a new period of growth at the outset of World War II. In 1941, the School was granted the right to award baccalaureate degrees and changed its name to the Philadelphia Textile Institute (PTI).

By 1949, PTI, which was no longer affiliated with the museum, began conducting classes at its present site in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. Throughout the 1950's, it continued to grow, and, in 1961, changed its name to Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science.

The student population doubled from 1954 to 1964, and again by 1978. Programs in the arts and sciences and business administration were added. The College purchased an adjoining property in 1972, doubling the size of its campus.

As Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science the institution offered its first graduate degree, the Master of Business Administration, in 1976. With the purchase of properties in 1980 and 1988, the size of the campus nearly doubled again and grew to include additional classrooms, research laboratories, student residences and athletic facilities. In 1992, the 54,000-square-foot Paul J. Gutman Library was built.

The College continued throughout the ’90's to provide its students with the highest-quality education and real-world experience demanded by their chosen professions, adding majors in a wide range of fields. To better reflect the institution’s breadth and depth, the College applied for and was granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1999. And, in a historic move, the Board of Trustees voted to change the School’s name to Philadelphia University on July 13, 1999.

The University now has three colleges and three schools, including the Colleges of Architecture and the Built Environment; the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce; the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts; the School of Design and Engineering (part of Kanbar College); the School of Business (part of Kanbar College); and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.