Chestnut Hill University (visited 7/19/16)
“You might have noticed that this campus is very Harry Potter-esque,” said our tour guide as we started on the tour, and it’s true. There are lots of large, impressive, stone buildings. One of the things the college is proud of is their annual Harry Potter Festival (complete with Quidditch tournaments) to which the community is invited.
This is a Catholic institution affiliated with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. About 50% of the students self-identify as Catholic; surprisingly, there are also lots of Buddhists on campus. Masses are held Monday to Friday morning and Sunday PM in the small chapel within the main building. Mass is never required, but students do need to take World Religions. This was the tour guide’s biggest class with 28. She also took a class called Spiritual Life Journey which was one of her favorites: rather than talking about a particular religion, it talked about spirituality and each person’s personal path.
There are only about 950 traditional undergrads, 60% of whom live on campus. Housing is guaranteed for full-time students, and the dorms have the most amazing lounges I’ve seen! Apartments are reserved for students with a 3.5 GPA. They have to write an essay as part of the application to live there. Dorms are single-gender by floor except for suites.
Freshmen are required to take an orientation class during their first semester where they meet with a mentor professor and have to participate in a certain number of events such as lectures, attending a club fair, participating in a dorm event, etc. They get their “passports” stamped to show they attended. It’s designed to ensure that they are acculturating to campus and getting involved.
CHC sits on the city limits (the “Welcome to Philly” sign is right outside campus) and is 20 minutes from downtown. The train station down the street takes students to City Center. The school’s Sugarloaf Campus is a mile from Main campus, and shuttles run every 20 minutes. The old hotel (originally owned by Temple and sold to CH) is now a dorm. The Mansion, now used for events, used to be a Speakeasy.
In addition to offering the standard fare of majors, CHC offers some specialty majors like Social Gerontology, Jazz Studies, Forensic Bio, Forensic Chemistry, and biology with a Sports Med Concentration. Certificate Programs include Intercultural Foundations, International Studies, Montessori Specialization, Religious Studies, and Digital Forensics. CHU also runs Dual Degree programs with 2 local schools, Thomas Jefferson (Radiological Sciences or Bioscience Technologies) and Arcadia University (Physician’s Assistant Program).
In addition to departmental honors, they run an Interdisciplinary Honors Program which allows students to take a different approach to how they approach their work. Departmental Honors can be obtained by invitation after 2 years (60 credits) with at least a 3.6.
Their athletics are DII, which is amazing for a school this size. Baseball, basketball, softball, and lacrosse draw big fan bases. They just added a Sprint Football Team for men (bowling for women to balance it out – not nearly as exciting! The tour guide said she pushed for field hockey but it didn’t happen). There are only 8 schools (including West Point, Navy, and Penn) in the country with this sport. They played – and WON – against Princeton!
This is also one of the only colleges with a direct connection to the UN. The send a group every year to address committees at the UN Headquarters in New York. The two Heads of the UN Club this year are African. They draw a lot of international students, both as degree-seeking undergraduates and exchange students. They have a direct exchange “bed to bed/give one, get one” program. Many of these students come from South America and Europe.