Central College (Iowa)
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Central College Iowa
Central College
Central College (Iowa) seal.svg
Former names
Central University of Iowa[1]
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1853; 168 years ago (1853)[2]
Religious affiliation
Reformed Church in America
Endowment$63.1 million (2011)[3]
PresidentMark Putnam
Academic staff
41°24?01?N 92°55?07?W / 41.400204°N 92.918556°W / 41.400204; -92.918556Coordinates: 41°24?01?N 92°55?07?W / 41.400204°N 92.918556°W / 41.400204; -92.918556
CampusUrban 130 acres (53 ha)
ColorsRed and White
AthleticsNCAA Division III - ARC
Sports19 varsity teams
Central College (Iowa) wordmark.svg

Central College is a four-year private liberal arts college located in Pella, Iowa, and affiliated with the Reformed Church in America and NCAA Division III athletics. The college was founded in 1853 and has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1942.[5] Central has a student body of approximately 1,100 undergraduates[6] and 73 academic programs.[7][8] The college is noted for its emphasis on sustainability education, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and global experiential learning, including varied study abroad programs.[6]


Central College's oldest building, Jordan Hall

The Baptist Convention of Iowa founded Central University of Iowa in 1853 and it officially opened on October 8, 1854. The first class totaled 37 people. Central was a Baptist institution until 1916, when it was transferred to the control of the Reformed Church in America. Since 1886, Iowa Baptists had shifted their post-secondary education interests to Des Moines College, and hoped to reduce Central to a feeder school.[2][9][10]

The college was called Central University of Iowa (CUI), at least until 1991.[1] It renamed itself "Central College" in 1994.[11]

It was home to local radio station 89.1 KCUI-FM and the award-winning newspaper "The Ray."

Central has a history of interesting architectural features. The first buildings of the new college in 1853 are Dutch Colonial and part of what was recently known as Strawtown Inn. The first dormitory, Cotton Hall, is noted for its ornate Victorian porch and stained glass windows. Building innovation continues with the addition of "green" buildings.[12]

In September 2019 it was announced that Central College would lower their yearly tuition starting in the Fall 2020 semester, dropping to $18,600, from $38,600.


Central College's 130-acre campus is a few blocks from Pella's downtown square, two minutes from Iowa's largest lake and 40 minutes from Des Moines. Pella's annual Tulip Festival attracts more than 100,000 visitors each spring.[13] Central is a residential campus where students can live in dormitories, townhouses, and apartment style "green pods."

The college's emphasis on sustainability has led to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Vermeer Science Center was Iowa's first LEED-rated building, and Howard McKee Hall received the first gold rating in the state. The newest building, Roe Center, received a platinum rating.[14]

Major buildings

Maytag Student Center--During the summer of 2014, the student center underwent a $3.1 million renovation to Maytag Student Center made possible by the Fred Maytag Family foundation. The renovations include a new workout facility, a new Student Activity Center and additional Fred's dining area.

The Roe Center--Named after Central's 20th president, Dr. David H. Roe, was completed in the fall of 2009. The $17 million facility houses the education, psychology and communication departments, as well as Community-Based Learning. Central was awarded a platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for the design of the Roe Center. The facility features environmentally friendly building practices and an energy efficient building design, such as a green roof, natural ventilating system, radiant floor heating/cooling system and daylight harvesting systems.

Vermeer Science Center--Underwent a $20 million renovation in 2003, and was the first building in the state of Iowa and the first science building in the nation to be recognized as a green building by the U.S. Green Building Council. It was subsequently given a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating. The mathematics, computer science, physics, biology and chemistry departments are located in this building. Vermeer features many study spaces and quiet tables located outside the professors' offices are to encourage student/faculty interaction.

Weller Center for Business and International Studies--Built in 1999, it was Central's first step in green building featuring natural light, solar panels and carpet out of recycled materials in every room. It contains the business, foreign language and international studies departments.

Central Market--Central's main dining facility. It is designed to resemble a European marketplace.

Geisler Library--Holds nearly a quarter of a million resources including books, magazines, newspapers, music, reference periodicals, microfilm, historical information and art.

Kuyper Athletic Complex--The Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium received new Fieldturf in the summer of 2013. The field is surrounded by a 400-meter BSS 1000 polyurethane track which also house dual runways for jumping events and a two-way pole vault pit. The H.S. Kuyper Fieldshouse houses a 200-meter track and five tennis courts. The surface is Mondotrack, which is the same surface used in the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing.


Central offers 73 academic programs and pre-professional advising, including the college's newest major, engineering. The 14 pre-professional programs include medicine, law, nursing and pharmacy. Academic programs include: accounting, athletic training, biology, communication studies, computer science, education, music, natural science, physics and languages.[15] 85 percent of faculty have a PhD or terminal degree. The average class size is 16 students and the student to faculty ratio is 12-1.

About 50 percent of Central students study abroad at some point. Central offers year-round programs around the world. Summer programs are also available in many locations.


Central College playing football against Simpson College on October 9, 2010.

Central has 19 sports programs and competes in the ARC of the NCAA. Sports include: football, wrestling, volleyball, softball, baseball; men's and women's golf, track, soccer, basketball and tennis. Cheerleading, dance team and intramural sports are also offered.[16]

Highlights of Central athletics programs include:

  • The football team has not had a losing season since 1960.
  • The softball team has 25 Division III tournament berths and 13 finals appearances. They have four national champion titles.
  • The volleyball team has three national titles--1998, 1999 and 2000.
  • The track and field team combined has 35 individual championships. The men's program has 15 individual championships, with seven in the multi-event category.

Central College's athletic teams include:[17]

Student life

Central has over 100 clubs and activities for students to get involved with on campus. Students are also given the opportunity to create their own club and have it officially recognized by the college.

Clubs and Organizations Include intramural sports, mock trial, non-national Greek life [ie Alpha Zeta Chi (AZX) which was founded in 1988 with the motto of "Dignity Through Diversity to Unity"], Campus Ministries, and more.

There are honorary organizations for theatre, chemistry, mathematics, art, music, history, political science, psychology, English and biology.

There are also 18 music ensembles available for participation on campus including a cappella choir, steel drum ensemble, pep band, jazz band, woodwind ensemble, community chorus and chamber singers.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b Uhlig, Mark A. (April 7, 1991). "Mexico's Leader to Defend Trade Pact in U.S." The New York Times. Retrieved 2011. ...Roderic A. Camp, an American expert on Mexican politics who teaches at the Central University of Iowa.
  2. ^ a b Mak, Christine; Thostenson, Josephine E. Patrick Roland (ed.). "Central College celebrates its Sesquicentennial: 1853-2003". Central College. Archived from the original on 2016-03-29. Retrieved 2011.
  3. ^ "Central College School Facilities - Pella, Iowa - Undergraduate Search at Petersons.com". Peterson's. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 2011. Main Library Name: Geisler Library Other Library: 2 Collection: 249,709 titles; 634 serial subscriptions; 11,577 audiovisual materials Endowment: $63.1 million
  4. ^ "Fast facts - Admission - Central College". Central College (Iowa). Archived from the original on 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^ "Higher Learning Commission". www.ncahlc.org. Retrieved .
  6. ^ a b "Central College". Forbes. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Central College | Central College Pella | Best College | US News". colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Central College". www.thinkindependently.com. Archived from the original on 2015-06-03. Retrieved .
  9. ^ Mak, Christine; Thostenson, Josephine E. "Central College celebrates its Sesquicentennial: 1853-2003 (2nd page)". Central College. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ van der Zee, Jacob (2003) [1912]. "XXXIV CENTRAL UNIVERSITY OF IOWA". Hollanders of Iowa. Iowa City, Iowa: State Historical Society of Iowa. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 2010.
  11. ^ The Chronicle of higher education almanac. 44-46. The Chronicle. 1996. p. 80. Retrieved 2011. Central University of Iowa officially became Central College in 1994. The institution was chartered as a university in 1853 but came to be known informally as Central College. Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Aug 17, 2010
  12. ^ "Making the varsity green team" (Fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). New York Times Upfront. Gale Biography In Context. 16 March 2009. p. 3. Retrieved 2011. Friendly competition is helping to raise energy-awareness on college campuses. Students living in the Eco-Dorm at Central College in Pella, Iowa, can monitor each other's energy use on the school's Web site. To make sure they stay greener than their dorm mates, some even go off campus to charge their cell phones. Gale Document Number: GALE|A195980732
  13. ^ "Tulip Time in Pella".
  14. ^ "Central College - Global Sustainability". Central College. Archived from the original on 2015-06-07. Retrieved .
  15. ^ "Central College - Majors". Central College. Retrieved .
  16. ^ Information, Central. "Athletics - Central College". www.central.edu. Retrieved .
  17. ^ Athletics
  18. ^ NCAA Division III Records
  19. ^ "Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg Displays Portrait of Central President". Central College. Retrieved .
  20. ^ "The Philosopher Candidate". civitas.central.edu. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "#360 Central College - Forbes.com". Forbes.com. 5 August 2009. Retrieved 2011. Harry Smith '73, co-anchor of CBS's The Early Show and former host of A & E Biography; Tom Koos '86, President and CEO of Jacuzzi Brands Corporation; Nicholas Turner '01, Marine Helicopter Squadron, HMX-1 Nighthawks, responsible for direct helicopter support for the White House, including the president, vice president, cabinet members and other VIPs.


External links

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