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Principia Panthers
Principia College
MottoAs The Sowing, The Reaping
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1912; 109 years ago (1912)
Religious affiliation
Church of Christ, Scientist
Endowment$696.2 million (2020)[1]
PresidentJohn Williams
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States

38°56?56?N 90°20?56?W / 38.949°N 90.349°W / 38.949; -90.349Coordinates: 38°56?56?N 90°20?56?W / 38.949°N 90.349°W / 38.949; -90.349
CampusRural, 2,500 acres (10 km2)
MascotPanther, Thunder Chicken (Rugby)
ColorsBlue and Gold
Principia College wordmark.jpg

Principia College (Principia or Prin) is a private liberal arts college in Elsah, Illinois. It was founded in 1912 by Mary Kimball Morgan with the purpose of "serving the Cause of Christian Science."[2] Although the college says that it has no formal affiliation with the Church of Christ, Scientist, it also claims that "the practice of Christian Science is the cornerstone of campus life"[3] and "Christian Science [is] in action everywhere on campus".[4]

Principia sits on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River between Alton and Grafton in the Metro East region of Southern Illinois, thirty miles north of St. Louis. A portion of the school's 2,500-acre (1,000 ha) campus is a designated National Historic Landmark District, for its many buildings and design by architect Bernard Maybeck.


Although Principia College was born out of The Principia, founded by Mary Kimball Morgan in 1898, the name Principia was not adopted until the year 1898.[5] As Morgan's school grew, the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, approved The Principia's reference as a Christian Science school.[5] Emerging from the Principia Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools founded between 1898 and 1906, Principia College was established with a purpose of "serving the Cause of Christian Science through appropriate channels open to it as an educational institution."[6][7] The college, however, has no official affiliation with the Christian Science Church and Christian Science is not taught as a subject, but its principles form the basis of community life at Principia.[8] The first Upper School class graduated in 1906 and it is from this class that a junior college was established, whose first alumni graduated in 1917. Principia College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1923.[9]

Principia's campus sits on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River

Following this time period, architect Bernard Maybeck was commissioned to design a new college campus in Elsah, Illinois and by 1931 ground was broken on what would become Maybeck's largest commission.[10][11]

In 1934, Principia College graduated its first class as a full four-year institution and in 1935 the college was officially moved to its present-day location in Elsah. On April 19, 1993, about 300 acres (120 ha) of the campus was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior. The year 1998 marked centennial celebrations by the school. The Principia College campus was once considered as the site for the United States Air Force Academy though ultimately the Air Force chose a location in Colorado Springs, Colorado, instead.

A Measles outbreak at Principia in 1985 sickened more than 100 students and resulted in three deaths.[12] Another outbreak in 1989 also sickened more than 100 students.[12]

In the 21st century, the school's enrollment size has declined due to the dwindling number of Christian Scientists.[13]


Principia College Chapel

Housing and student life facilities

Buck House
Mistake House

There are ten student dormitories on campus: Anderson Hall, Rackham Court, Howard House, Sylvester House, Buck House, Brooks House, Ferguson House, Joe McNabb, Lowrey House, and Clara McNabb. The first six mentioned were designed by former University of California, Berkeley professor and AIA Gold Medal winner Bernard Maybeck in 1935, as was the campus' chapel.[14] Maybeck attempted to use different architectural styles and building techniques for each of these dormitories and for the chapel. In an effort to ensure success with his designs and materials, he experimented with them through the creation of a small building known affectionately by Principians as the "Mistake House."[] In celebration of the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial, the Principia College Campus was selected as one of the Illinois 200 Great Places [15] by the American Institute of Architects Illinois component (AIA Illinois).

Organization and administration

Principia has an endowment of $696.2 million as of June 2020,[16] giving it one of the highest endowments of any U.S. institution.[17] The endowment size declined by more than $100 million in the decade prior to 2018.[13]


Principia College offers twenty-seven majors in the liberal arts and sciences. The college does not currently offer a graduate program. The most popular majors include mass communication, biology, sociology, anthropology, studio and fine art, and business administration.[18][19]

Principia offers various Study Abroad & Field Programs, International Student Programs, Conferences, and International Student Experiences.[20][21]

In their 2019 rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Principia #83 (up from #139 in 2014) among all National Liberal Arts Colleges, and #5 in the category of "Best Value Schools". As of 2019, Principia College's annual tuition costs were $29,470, with additional costs of $11,610 for room and board (99% of freshmen lived on campus in 2018-19). In 2017, the school had an acceptance rate above 90%.[22]

Student life

Principia College has a diverse student composition and amount of organizations given its size. 20% of its students are international and represent thirty countries on six of the world's seven continents.[23][failed verification] The college has forty student clubs and organizations, among these the Euphrates and Leadership institutes.[23][24] The Public Affairs Conference at the college is one of oldest student-led conferences in America and has been held annually since 1939.[25] The Principia College Speaker Series is a group of past, present, and future events that has featured United States President Barack Obama, American statesmen and retired four-star general Colin Powell, former United States president George H.W. Bush, former United States president Jimmy Carter, American author and poet Maya Angelou, David McCullough, Elie Wiesel, American actor and director Robert Duvall, Val Kilmer, Coretta Scott King, and Margaret Thatcher among others.[26] In addition to the Public Affairs Conference Principia College holds an International Perspectives Conference with a focus on global issues such as human rights in Africa.[27]


Of the technological programs present at Principia College, most prevalent and distinguished is its study in solar energy. The college has competed in solar car world events since 1995 and finished second in the North American Solar Challenge of 2008 and seventh in the World Solar Challenge of 2009.[28]


Principia College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). The Principia Panther is the official mascot of Principia College and has been since its change from the Indian in 1984.[5] There are sixteen varsity athletic teams at Principia College of which men's sports are baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and rugby; and women's sports include basketball, cross country, beach volleyball, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and volleyball.[23]

In 1983, the women's tennis team won the NCAA Division III national championship.[5]

In 2013, the men's rugby team won the first ever Open Division USA Rugby 7s Collegiate National Championship, beating the University of Wisconsin-Stout 27-12 in the championship match.[29]


Notable Principia College alumni include:

See also


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved 2021.
  2. ^ Mary Kimball Morgan, Education at The Principia, The Principia Corporation, 2000, p. 227.
  3. ^ Principia College. "Christian Science". Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ "Spiritual Life: Deepen Your Understanding of God". Principia College. 2021. Retrieved 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d The Principia. "History of Principia". Web. The Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  6. ^ Education at The Principia, by Mary Kimball Morgan
  7. ^ "Mission, Values, and Principles". Web. The Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ "Spiritual Life at Principia College". January 15, 2012.
  9. ^ The Higher Learning Commission. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  10. ^ The Principia. "Maybeck". Web. The Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  11. ^ "Housing at Principia College".
  12. ^ a b Townsend, Tim (December 6, 2009). "Prayer or inoculation? H1N1 is newest dilemma Members of religious groups who forgo vaccines may put neighbors at risk, threaten common good. RELIGION". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2021.
  13. ^ a b Bogan, Jesse (March 4, 2018). "Guarding tradition: Principia has lots of money but few Christian Scientists to fill classrooms". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2021.
  14. ^ McCoy, Esther (1960). Five California Architects. New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation. ASIN B000I3Z52W.
  15. ^ Waldinger, Mike (January 30, 2018). "The proud history of architecture in Illinois". Springfield Business Journal. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved 2021.
  17. ^ U.S. and Canadian 2020 NTSE Participating Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value, Percentage Change in Market Value from FY19 to FY20, and FY20 Endowment Market Values Per Full-time Equivalent Student (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America. April 22, 2021. Retrieved 2021.
  18. ^ Best College - US News (2012). "Principia College". Web. U.S. News & World Report LP. Retrieved 2013.
  19. ^ Grove, Allen (2012). "Principia College profile". Web. Retrieved 2013.
  20. ^ The Principia. "Abroads & Fields". Web. the Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  21. ^ The Principia. "Clubs & Organizations". Web. the Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  22. ^ "US News & World Report - Principia College Page".
  23. ^ a b c The Principia. "Fast Facts". Web. The Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  24. ^ The Principia. "Institutes". Web. The Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  25. ^ The Principia. "Public Affairs Conference". Web. The Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  26. ^ The Principia. "Speakers and Events". Web. The Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  27. ^ The Principia. "International Perspectives Conference". Web. The Principia. Retrieved 2013.
  28. ^ Weich, Susan (2 November 2011). "Solar car team from tiny Principia College competes in world race". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2013.
  29. ^ Wise, Chad (24 November 2013). "Principia takes first Men's Open Division Championship at College 7s". Retrieved 2013.
  30. ^
  31. ^ 77 North Washington Street, The Atlantic Online, June 1997
  32. ^ a b College Online Concert Draws Thousands of Views
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Peter Horton Biography". Web Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved .
  35. ^ Steinberg, Avi (March 31, 2005). "Mindy Jostyn, 48; voice, talent treasured by fans, music stars". The Boston Globe.
  36. ^ "Ngozi Mwanamwambwa Asinga | Alumni". Retrieved .
  37. ^ "Cinema-Television Department Faculty". Los Angeles: Los Angeles City College.
  38. ^ "ROUSSELOT, John Harbin, (1927 - 2003)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–present. United States Congress. Retrieved .
  39. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "David Rowland, Maker of a Tidily Stacked Chair, Dies at 86", The New York Times, August 25, 2010. Accessed August 26, 2010.
  40. ^ "SHAYS, Christopher H., (1945 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–present. United States Congress. Retrieved .

External links

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