Grove City College
Former names
Pine Grove Normal Academy (1876–1884)
MottoLux Mea (Latin)
Motto in English
My Light[1]
TypePrivate conservative liberal arts college
Established1876; 147 years ago (1876)
Religious affiliation
Nondenominational, formerly Presbyterian Church (USA)
Endowment$125.6 million[2]
PresidentPaul McNulty
Academic staff

41°9′22″N 80°4′48″W / 41.15611°N 80.08000°W / 41.15611; -80.08000
CampusRural 180 acres (0.28 sq mi) [3]
ColorsCrimson and white
Sporting affiliations
MascotWillie the Wolverine

Grove City College (GCC) is a private, conservative Christian liberal arts college in Grove City, Pennsylvania.[4] Founded in 1876 as a normal school, the college emphasizes a humanities core curriculum and offers 60 majors and six pre-professional programs with undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts, sciences, business, education, engineering, and music.[5][2] Though once associated with the Presbyterian Church, the college is now unaffiliated.



Founded in 1876 by Isaac C. Ketler,[6] the school was originally chartered as Pine Grove Normal Academy. It had twenty-six students in its first year. In 1884, the trustees of Pine Grove Normal Academy in Grove City amended the academy charter to change the name to Grove City College.[7] By charter, the doors of the College were open to qualified students "without regard to religious test or belief." Isaac Ketler served as president until 1913.[8]

Grove City was also supported by Joseph Newton Pew, founder of the Sun Oil Company. Pew and Ketler's sons, Weir C. Ketler and John Howard Pew, later went on to become Grove City president and president of the board of trustees, respectively.[9][10] During the summer of 1925, J. Gresham Machen gave the lectures that formed the basis of his book, What Is Faith?[11]

World War II

As World War II began, Grove City College was one of six schools selected by the United States Navy to participate in the highly unusual Electronics Training Program (ETP). Starting in March 1942, each month a new group of 100 Navy and Marine students arrived for three months of 14-hour days in concentrated electrical engineering study. ETP admission required passing the Eddy Test, one of the most selective qualifying exams given during the war years.[12] Professor Russell P. Smith was the program's Director of Instruction. By the fall of 1943, there were only 81 civilian men in the student body; thus, the presence of 300 or so servicemen contributed greatly to sustaining the College. This training at Grove City continued until April 1945; library records show that 49 classes were graduating 3,759 persons.[13][14]

Supreme Court case

Main article: Grove City College v. Bell

Under President Charles S. MacKenzie, the college was the plaintiff-appellee in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case in 1984, Grove City College v. Bell. The ruling came seven years after the school refused to sign a Title IX compliance form, which would have subjected the entire school to federal regulations, even ones not yet issued. The court ruled 6–3 that acceptance by students of federal educational grants fell under the regulatory requirements of Title IX, but it limited the application to the school's financial aid department.

In 1988, new legislation subjected every department of any educational institution that received federal funding to Title IX requirements. In response, Grove City College withdrew from the Pell Grant program entirely beginning with the 1988–1989 academic year, replacing such grants to students with its own program, the Student Freedom Fund.[15] In October 1996, the college withdrew from the Stafford Loan program, providing entering students with replacements through a program with PNC Bank.[16]

Grove City is one of a handful of colleges (along with Hillsdale College, which did likewise after the aforementioned 1984 case[16]) that does not allow its students to accept federal financial aid of any kind, including grants, loans, and scholarships.[17]

Grove City's central quad in the spring

Recent history

From 1963 until 2016, the American Association of University Professors placed Grove City under censure for violations of tenure and academic freedom because of the dismissal of Professor of History and Political Science Larry Gara. By the end of this period, Grove City's administration was on the AAUP's list of censured administrations longer than any other college on the list. In its report, the AAUP Investigative Committee at Grove City concluded that "the absence of due process [in the dismissal of professors at Grove City] raises... doubts regarding the academic security of any persons who may hold an appointment at Grove City College under existing administrative practice. These doubts are of an order of magnitude which obliges us to report them to the academic profession at large." In 2013 Grove City started working to remove itself from the censure list. Two years later, the school admitted that they would have handled Gara's case rather differently under their current procedures. This led the AAUP to lift its sanction on the school at its annual meeting in 2016.[18][19][20] Gara received an apology from the school in October 2015.[21]

In 2005, Grove City founded the conservative think-tank the Center for Vision and Values[22] In April 2019, it was renamed the Institute for Faith & Freedom, saying that it "more clearly aligns it with the historic values of the College."[23]

In recent years, the college has engaged in many new construction projects, including an expansion to its music and arts center in 2002, a new academic building in 2003, a new student union/bookstore in 2004, and new apartment-style housing in 2006. Grove City's Student Union building was honored with the International Masonry Institute's Golden Trowel Grand Prize for excellence in masonry design and construction in 2005.[24][25] On February 9, 2011, Grove City College announced that it would break ground for construction of a science, engineering, and mathematics building – key components of Grove City Matters: A Campaign to Advance Grove City College, which at $90 million is the largest capital campaign in the college's history. The $37.2 million science, engineering, and mathematics building is designed to support new modes of teaching, particularly flexible laboratories and small-group interactions. "It will help ensure that Grove City College continues to prepare students for future careers in an increasingly competitive workforce", officials said.[26] STEM Hall was opened in August 2013 and provides laboratory space for students studying biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science.[27] In the summer of 2021, Grove City announced that the campus' Henry Buhl Library would be majorly renovated, with the addition of classroom space, updated study areas, and a cafe.[28]

The college acquired an observatory from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in February 2008 that will be used for astronomy classes as well as faculty and student research. The observatory's telescope will be operated remotely, from the college's main campus – more than 60 miles (97 km) away. The purchase of the property, three buildings, and equipment inside will pave the way for the addition of an astronomy minor on campus. Through this observatory, the college's physics department plans to work with area public schools as well as other colleges and universities on educational and research projects and draw prospective students who are looking for strong physics programs and astronomy coursework.[29]



Grove City offers 55 majors in the liberal arts, sciences, and engineering.[30] The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.[31] The college's electrical and computer and mechanical engineering programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET).[32] Most recently, the Bachelor of Science in Social Work program was approved as a candidate for accreditation through the specialized accreditation offered through the Council on Social Work Education. In 2019, Grove City announced a new partnership with Butler County Community College to provide a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.[33]


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[34]5 of 35
Forbes[35]333 of 498

US News & World Report's 2020 college rankings place Grove City 120th among 233 "National Liberal Arts Colleges".[36] Consumers Digest Magazine's Top 100 College Values ranks Grove City College, the top value in private liberal arts schools throughout the nation in May 2011.[37][38][39]

Connections to think tanks

Although it is a small liberal arts college, Grove City's faculty and administrators significantly influence and impact the ideas of various think tanks around the USA, especially on issues involving the environment, education, minimum wage, and other issues economic and conservative.[40] Grove City College has international ties, founded in 1955, and on the International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL) Freedom Network.

The National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise[41] an organization that seeks to provide effective community and faith-based organizations with training and technical assistance, links them to sources of support, and evaluates their experience for public policy to address the problems of youth violence, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, homelessness, joblessness, poor education, and deteriorating neighborhoods, publicizes events held at Grove City College.

The Lone Mountain Coalition, part of the Property and Environment Research Center,[42] which claims to be "America's oldest and largest institute dedicated to original research that brings market principles to resolving environmental problems", has ties to Grove City through Michael Coulter, Vice-President of the Shenango Institute for Public Policy, and associate professor of political science at Grove City College.

The college also has ties to the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian academic organization engaged in research and scholarship in the fields of economics, philosophy, and political economy. Several members of the Mises Institute faculty are also faculty at Grove City.

Grove City also has ties to Michigan through Lawrence W. (Larry) Reed, president of Michigan's Mackinac Center for Public Policy.[43] Reed received his B.A. in Economics from Grove City in 1975. Reed is also past president of the State Policy Network.[44]

The Academic Advisory Committee of the John Locke Foundation, a free market think tank in North Carolina, which supports the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a nonprofit institute dedicated to improving higher education in North Carolina and the nation, includes Walter E. Williams, the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, George Mason University, holder of a Doctor of Humane Letters from Grove City College and John Moore, Former President of Grove City College, who led the college through its withdrawal from federal student loan programs, which completed the college's break from federal ties.


Many students choose Grove City explicitly for its Christian environment and traditional Humanities curriculum.[citation needed] A three-year required Humanities sequence focuses on the origin, development, and implications of civilization's seminal ideas and worldviews. The courses cover content that includes religion, philosophy, history and philosophy of science, literature, art and music.[30] Because of its strong adherence to freedom and minimal government interference, Grove City College is considered to be one of America's foremost colleges that teach the ideas of the Austrian School of Economics.[45] The post-1938 personal papers of Ludwig Von Mises, are housed in the archive of Grove City College.[46] Grove City College also hosts the Austrian Student Scholars Conference. Annually done in February, a collection of students from around the United States present research papers on the history of economic thought or on current developments within the Austrian School of Thought.[47] In addition to traditional business programs, Grove City also offers a degree in Entrepreneurship and a degree in Business Economics.[48]

Policies and environment

When it opened, Grove City College was one of the first institutions of higher learning in the United States to admit both male and female students. The school maintains a one-to-one ratio of men to women, ensuring that the student body is approximately 50% men and 50% women.[49]

Grove City College adopts a strong policy regarding alcohol use on campus, with first-time offenders receiving a one-week suspension from all activities. Legal-age students are permitted to consume alcohol off campus, provided that they do not appear inebriated upon their return. Student organizations must agree to a strong policy regarding alcohol use both on and off campus, and their violation resulting in the loss of their charter.[50]

In 2012, The Princeton Review listed Grove City College as the 2nd most LGBT-unfriendly school in the United States.[51] In 2013 Grove City was at #1 in the Princeton Review’s rankings of most LGBT-unfriendly schools in America.[52] As of 2016, they were ranked 9th.[53]

By refusing to accept federal funds and so-called Title IV financial aid (from the Higher Education Act of 1965), Grove City is not required to adhere to various federal guidelines that (i) prevent sex-based and many other forms of discrimination (e.g., Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972), (ii) regulate investigations into accusations of sexual abuse, (iii) require the collecting and sharing of information about crimes on campus (Clery Act), and (iv) set standards for disciplinary proceedings (Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act).[54]

Religious facilities

Grove City College was initially affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, but it is no longer tied to a particular Christian denomination. Students are required to attend a certain number of chapel services per semester. That was also the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.[55]

Harbison Chapel has been a longstanding campus facility for Christian services. In 2012, Rathburn Hall was built to function as an office space for chapel staff, meeting space for religious groups, and a lounge area for visiting speakers.[56]

Groups and organizations

GCC hosts approximately 150 Student Organizations and Activities.[57]

Publications and media

The Bridge – Th ecollege has a yearbook, a newspaper, an arts journal, a law journal and a literary magazine.

WSAJ radio

Main article: WSAJ

The 1,600-watt FM signal covers a 30 mi radius in Western Pennsylvania. The station broadcasts fine arts programming, college football and basketball games. It also airs community events and high school sports. Students host shows during the evening hours when school is in session.

Fraternities, sororities, and housing groups

Fraternities and sororities live on campus, in pre-selected upperclassman halls. Grove City's fraternities and sororities are local and are not affiliated with any of the national Greek umbrella organizations.[58]


Official athletics logo.

Grove City has been fielding athletics teams for over a century. In 1906, they were one of the 39 charter members of the IAAUS, the forerunner of the NCAA.[59]

Grove City College, known athletically as the Wolverines, competes in the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) of NCAA Division III. On the varsity level, Grove City College has football, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, cheerleading, swimming, tennis, and track teams for both men and women. Lacrosse, baseball, rugby union and football are varsity sports available to men only, while softball, and water polo are varsity sports offered to women only.

Grove City also offers several club sports to men and women including but not limited to ultimate, volleyball for men and field hockey, lacrosse, and rugby for women. These teams have been very successful, most notably the men's club volleyball team, which has finished in the top 10 in the country each of the last two years, the men's lacrosse team, which finished in the top 10 in the country in 2015, and both the men's and women's rugby teams which have been ranked in the top 10 in the country by the National Small College Rugby Organization.

Intramural sports for men are as follows: basketball, bowling, dodgeball, football, soccer, softball, table tennis, tennis, ultimate, and volleyball. Women have badminton, basketball, bowling, flag football, indoor soccer, kickball, racquetball, ultimate, and volleyball.

In 2018, the school's assistant sports information director was charged with nearly 100 counts for crimes ranging from privacy violations to possession of child pornography after it was discovered he had been secretly recording students who were showering in the college's locker room.[60][61][62]

Rainbow Bridge, which stretches over Wolf Creek and connects upper and lower campus.


Notable alumni

Notable professors

Past presidents


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Further reading