Washington College
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Established1723; 301 years ago (1723), as Kent County Free School
1782; 242 years ago (1782), as Washington College
FounderWilliam Smith, et al.
AffiliationCLAC NAICU
Endowment$218.5 million (2020)[1]
PresidentMichael J. Sosulski
Location, ,
United States

39°13′05″N 76°04′10″W / 39.21806°N 76.06944°W / 39.21806; -76.06944
CampusRural, 112 acres (45 ha)
NewspaperThe Elm
Colors  Maroon
NicknameShoremen & Shorewomen
MascotGus the Goose

Washington College is a private liberal arts college in Chestertown, Maryland. Maryland granted Washington College its charter in 1782. George Washington supported the founding of the college by consenting to have the "College at Chester" named in his honor, through generous financial support, and through service on the college's Board of Visitors and Governors. Washington College is the 10th-oldest college in the United States and was the first college chartered after American independence. The school became coeducational in 1891.


A bronze George Washington statue overlooks the campus green.

Washington College evolved from the Kent County Free School, an institution of more than 200 years' standing in "Chester Town," which by the college's founding date of 1782 had reached considerable strength and importance as a port city. George Washington consented to the fledgling college's use of his name (the only institution of higher education in the United States with this claim), pledged the sum of 50 guineas to its establishment, and extended his warm wishes for the "lasting and extensive usefulness" of the institution.[2] He later served on Washington College's Board of Visitors and Governors — his only such involvement with an institution of higher learning.

The college's first president, the Reverend William Smith, was a prominent figure in colonial affairs of letters and church, and he had a wide acquaintance among the great men of colonial days, including Benjamin Franklin. Joining General Washington on the Board of Visitors and Governors of the new college were such distinguished figures as U.S. Senator John Henry, Congressman Joshua Seney and William Paca, Governor of Maryland. The Maryland legislature granted its first college charter upon Washington College in May 1782.[3] The following spring, on May 14, 1783, the college held its first commencement.

President Smith had envisaged Washington College as the Eastern Shore Campus of a public “University of Maryland” with St. John's College as its Western Shore counterpart, a proposal incorporated into the later institution's 1784 state charter, but the Maryland General Assembly's reluctance to provide funding meant this was never more than a paper institution and the relationship ended with Smith's return to Philadelphia in 1789.[4]

With his election as first President of the United States, General Washington retired from the Board of Visitors and Governors and accepted the honorary degree of doctor of laws, which a delegation from Chestertown presented to him on June 24, 1789, in New York, then the seat of Congress. Since Washington's last visit to campus, Washington College has hosted five U.S. presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush.

The original college building cornerstone was laid in May 1783, it opened in 1788 after selling off acreage and starting a lottery to fund the project. The hall was still incomplete by 1794 and was destroyed by a basement fire January 11, 1827.[5] The oldest existing building, Middle Hall, was erected in 1844 on the site of the original college building. By 1860, Middle Hall was joined by East and West Halls. All three structures, known as the Hill Dorms, are on the Maryland Register of Historic Places.[6]


Student body and admissions

Washington College campus
Chestertown's historic waterfront

Washington College offers 34 majors, and 35 minors or concentrations. The most popular majors, based on 2021 graduates, were:[7]

1,367 undergraduate students attended Washington College during the 2018–2019 academic year[8] along with approximately 100 graduate students. During that year, 74% of applicants were accepted.[8] (The acceptance rate for 2018–2019 was much higher than in previous years, likely due to the drop in total applications for the 2018–2019 academic year. Washington College received 5,515 applications for 2017–2018 and 3,109 for 2018–2019.)[8] For the 2017–2018 academic year, the acceptance rate was 47%. The mean high school GPA of admitted students has risen from 3.53 in Fall 2013 to 3.62 in Fall 2018.[8]

During the 2018–2019 academic year, 40.6 percent of incoming freshmen were from Maryland and the balance many other US states and 23 foreign nations.[8] 18.8 percent of undergraduates are minority students with 9.2 percent identifying as African-American, 5.6 percent identifying as Hispanic-American, 3.2 percent identifying as Asian-American, and with .8 percent identifying as either Native American or Pacific Islander.[8] 7.4 percent of undergraduates are international citizens.[8] Approximately 5 percent of the college's student body is "non-traditional" (25 years old or older). 83% of students lived in an on-campus residence during the 2018 Fall term;[8] the rest commute either from off-campus housing or from home.

Tuition for the 2020–2021 year is $48,678 and total expenses per annum (including room, board, and mandatory student fees) are $62,806. During the 2018–2019 academic year, 99.4 percent of incoming freshmen received financial aid, along with 95.0 percent of all undergraduates.[8] The cost of attendance has been rising in recent years, with the overall costs (including room and board) increasing by roughly $2,000 per year.


In 2015, Washington College was ranked by The Princeton Review as 16th in the United States among "Colleges With The Happiest Students In 2015–16".[9] In the 2011 edition of U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, Washington College rose 19 positions to 93rd in the nation in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category.[10]

Literary prizes

Each year, Washington College awards the nation's largest undergraduate literary prize. Since 1968, the Sophie Kerr Prize has been presented to one graduating senior who demonstrates the greatest literary promise. The endowment created by Sophie Kerr, a writer who published 23 novels and dozens of short stories, has provided more than $1.4 million in prize money to young writers. At a ceremony held at the Poets House in New York City on May 17, 2011, Lisa Jones was selected as the winner of the $61,000 Sophie Kerr Prize.[11]

In 2005, Washington College inaugurated another literary prize, the George Washington Book Prize, administered by the college's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and awarded in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington's Mount Vernon. The prize is awarded annually to the most significant new book about the founding era. At $50,000, the prize is one of the most generous book awards in the United States. Richard Beeman won the 2010 George Washington Book Prize for his work, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution.[12]

In 2015 the Rose O’Neill Literary House, Washington College's center for literature and the literary arts, established the Douglass Wallop Fellowship as a nationwide competition, with the first fellowship going to playwright Sheri Wilner. The award will be granted biennially to a playwright.[13]

Student life

The school has over 90 student clubs.

Freshmen, unless local, are required to live on-campus. On-campus housing is available for approximately 900 students. Most students (70–75 percent) stay on-campus over the weekend to participate in various social and recreational activities.

Approximately 30 percent of students attend graduate school in the first year following graduation and approximately 45 percent do so within five years.

In Fall 2018, the student to faculty ratio was 10.5:1.[8] The average class size is 17.

The school confers the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Arts (in English, psychology and history).

Washington College has joined American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment with a Campus carbon neutrality goal. The Center for Environment and Society oversees the Chesapeake Semester program, four interdisciplinary courses that use the college's location in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to explore environmental issues and advocacy.[14]

Washington College is host to the Harwood Series, which includes speeches by national politicians and media pundits. Because of its reputation as a liberal arts school with creative writing being a strength, writers such as John Barth, Ray Bradbury, Bobbie Ann Mason, Colum McCann, Neil Gaiman, Tim O'Brien, Junot Díaz, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Robert Pinsky have given readings at the campus.

Greek life

Greek life at Washington College comprises four men's fraternities and three women's sororities. Approximately 25 percent of the student body joins Greek life. Fraternities are mainly housed on the "quad", and sororities line the Western Shore housing.

Men's fraternities:



George Washington Birthday Ball: A college-wide dance where students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the college come together to celebrate George Washington's birthday. The event usually takes place on, or around, the actual date of George Washington's birth.[15]

War on the Shore: The annual men's lacrosse game, held in late spring between Washington College and Salisbury University, two of Maryland's Eastern Shore's undergraduate schools. Beginning in 2004, the winner of the game has been awarded the Charles B. Clark Cup.[16]

May Day: Started in 1968 by Professor Bennett Lamond of the English Department, who retired in 2004. He brought a class out onto the green, where they read poetry and drank wine. Later that night some of the students returned, and Washington College's May Day celebration was born. Since then, May Day has become a two-day festival on April 30 and May 1, often involving public nudity by some of the student body. Most students use paint, glitter, and other forms of art to cover their bodies at this festival. The event draws many students as spectators. The college's Public Safety officers stand at the perimeter of the campus green to prevent students from being publicly indecent off campus grounds.[17]


Varsity sports

The annual lacrosse rivalry between Washington College and Salisbury University is known as The War on the Shore.

Washington College has competed in intercollegiate athletics since the 19th century. Its oldest current varsity sports are the baseball team, which dates back to at least the early 1870s,[18] and the men's basketball team, which played its 100th season in 2011–12.[19] Men's teams are known as the Shoremen; women's teams are known as the Shorewomen.

While men have been playing varsity sports at Washington College for well over a century, varsity opportunities for women have been a more recent development. The first varsity sports for women – rowing, tennis, and volleyball – were added in the mid-1970s and were followed by the additions of softball, lacrosse, field hockey, and swimming by the mid-1980s. Varsity women's basketball began play during the 1993–94 season, while co-ed sailing was elevated to varsity status four years later. The women's soccer team is the college's newest varsity sport; it began play during the fall of 1998.

Washington College fielded a varsity football team through 1950, a men's track and field team through 1982, and a men's cross country team through 1989. The college previously sponsored varsity men's golf and varsity wrestling.[citation needed]

14 of Washington College's 18 varsity teams compete in the Centennial Conference. The men's and women's rowing teams compete in the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference (MARC), while the sailing team competes in the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association (MAISA) of the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA).

The rowing and sailing teams host regattas on the Chester River and call the college's Truslow Boat House and Lelia Hynson Boating Park home.[20]

The college's 18 varsity teams are:[21]


The college is known for its men's lacrosse team. It won the 1998 NCAA Division III National Championship and a share of the 1954 USILA Laurie Cox Division National Championship. The men's lacrosse team has participated in the NCAA Division II or III Tournament 28 times since 1974 and the NCAA Division III Championship game eight times.[22] Washington College Men's Lacrosse players have earned All-America honors 226 times.[23]

The men's and women's lacrosse teams, men's and women's soccer teams, and field hockey teams, compete on Kibler Field at Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium. Completed in 2006, the stadium was named one of the top 10 venues for collegiate lacrosse by Lacrosse Magazine.[24]


There are 24 housing options located on campus. Only seniors are allowed to apply to live off campus unless they permanently reside nearby and fill out required exemption forms. There are 5 freshmen dedicated residence halls on campus. 4 of the freshman dorms are located in east commons:

Minta Martin Hall- Minta Martin Hall is the largest of the freshman housing and second oldest. Minta was originally a women's dorm unveiled in 1954 and named after Glenn L. Martin's mother (Glenn L. Martin- Lockheed Martin). He was a major donor to its creation and well known by the community for his hunting lodge in Kent county. Minta offers 30 singles and 52 doubles. There are three residential floors split into alternating genders and only accessible by residents. Each residential floor has two shared bathroom areas and a common room (has TV and whiteboard). The Fourth floor of Minta features larger rooms with two windows but lacks built in mirrors like the lower floors. Floors 2 and 3 have drop ceilings, cinderblock walls with built in closets, storage and vanities seen here AC units sit above the door and is controlled via remote. All floors have faux wood flooring. The basement of Minta is accessible to all students and includes: Full kitchen, vending machines, laundry room, Intercultural center, pool table, three sorority chapter rooms, and three entertainment areas with TV's. Minta was recently renovated in 2022 alongside Reid.

Reid Hall- Hall is the oldest freshman hall. Reid Hall, formerly Normal Hall, was built in 1896 during the Presidency of Charles W. Reid Ph.D. and the first women's hall. The name it has now was adopted in 1923 in honor of President Reid. Reid hall now features gender inclusive or co-ed housing two floors are available to freshman with the third belonging to upperclassmen. Reid rooms have AC remote controlled AC above the door, drywall, non-drop ceilings, and faux wood floors. Each floor has one communal bathroom area and no common rooms. The basement of Reid features laundry room, full kitchen, study room, a lounge with TV, vending machines, and pool table. There is a small courtyard out in front of Reid's main entrance that includes a calming water fountain. Reid was renovated in 2022 but still possesses a historic main stairwell used as a photo op by many freshman.

Queen Anne's House- This hall has two resident floors divided by gender. It is a part of the building that made up by the health center and Caroline House. A basement links Caroline and Queen Anne's. There are 7 singles and 26 doubles in Queen Anne. The rooms feature drywall, non-drop ceilings, laminate floors, and floor level AC units. There are two bathrooms to each floor, laundry room, and a common room. The common rooms have exercise equipment and a TV. The singles bathrooms have bathtubs and Queen Anne has larger showers than the older dorms. Queen Anne's residents can access vending machines in Caroline or Minta. Queen Anne's residents can also can use the kitchen in Minta.

Caroline House- Caroline has three resident floors divided by gender. As previously mentioned it is part of the building that makes up the health center and Queen Anne's. The residential life office is also inside of caroline meaning all students can access their lobby area.There are There are 39 double rooms and 5 single rooms in Caroline Hall. Rooms feature cinder block walls, laminate floors, floor level AC and are the only rooms were lofting your bed is allowed. Caroline has a full kitchen, vending machines on the first floor. All floors have one shared bathroom with larger showers, common rooms with a TV and laundry room.

There is one freshman dorm central campus alongside Cullen. It just across the street from the rest of the freshman dorms though so don't worry about isolation.

Kent House- Kent is the designated STEM building. Kent is made up of two residential floors with two wings dividing it by gender. Each wing has its own bathroom and study area (TV's and whiteboards vary.) There are 36 doubles in Kent Hall. Kent rooms feature laminate floors, cinder block walls, non-drop ceilings, and floor level AC. Kent has a full kitchen installed as of 2024, vending machines, and laundry room.

The other 17 residence halls on campus are available for upperclassmen, some housing offers preference to Greek life or foreign exchange students though. The remaining 17 residence halls are as follows:

The Quad is made up of three houses: Cecil House, Dorchester House, and Talbot House. It is located right behind cullen and next to stadium with bonfire area nearby. In the Quad two buildings are considered the fraternity houses. Cecil is the home of the Phi Delta Theta brothers and Dorch the Kappa Sigma brothers. Brothers receive preference but those not a part of the fraternity can occupy the vacant rooms. Occasionally in times of high admission freshman also room in the quad. All buildings are two floors with a kitchenette on the top floor and a main entertainment area on the bottom floor. Seven room groupings of various sizes all with a lounge and bathroom are seen throughout. Some rooms are extremely small while others can technically be converted into doubles. All rooms have cinder block walls, floor level AC, drop-ceilings, and laminate floors.

West commons is made up of the River Houses- (Chester Hall, Corsica Hall, Sassafras Hall) and Morris hall. Located next to the tennis courts, stadium, and beach volleyball court. West commons though is the furthest off all the areas from central campus. No other dorms on campus have elevators.

The River Houses have slight variations through each but overall share similar room plans. featuring 4 different room options the rooms with common areas being the hardest to come by. There is the two doubles, one common room, shared bathroom (these are ADA rooms offered freshman or any students with severe mobility related disabilities.) Two doubles jack and jill shared bathroom. One double two singles with and without common room. All halls have elevators, full kitchens, common rooms to each floor, and laundry room. Rooms in these halls have drywall, floor level AC, and non-drop ceilings.

Morris Hall- Renamed from Harford Hall as a class gift from the class of 2020 after Thomas Morris. The first Black graduate of Washington College in 62'. Morris hall features 4 groupings of rooms to each floor along with laundry rooms, and elevator. Each room grouping is made up of two doubles, three singles, common room, fridge, microwave, a half bath, and a full bath. The rooms of Morris feature ground level AC, cinder block walls, laminate floors and non-drop ceilings.

Western shore surrounds the baseball field and is made up of eleven houses: Garrett House, Anne Arundel House, Calvert House, Allegany House, Frederick House, Carroll House, Howard House, Montgomery House, St. Mary's House, Charles House, and Prince George's House. Three houses bear the Greek lettering of a sorority and offer priority to the sisters of the designated sororities. Non Greek members can still live in the vacatent rooms though. Only students with enough credits to be considered a rising junior can apply to live in western shore. Western shore offers apartment style housing with for singles sharing a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and a common room. Renovated in 2023 Western shore rooms feature faux wood floors, above door AC, non-drop ceilings, and drywall.

Central campus features West Hall, Middle Hall, East Hall, and Cullen Hall. Unfortunately only Cullen is open to students out of these 4 halls (as of 2023.) Cullen has two communal bathrooms on each floor, study rooms, and laundry. Cullen is often used by foreign exchange students but upperclassmen still have it as an option. Cullen basement is were campus public safety's office is located. There are 25 singles and 35 doubles in Cullen Hall.Rooms in cullen vary in size but feature builtins like the ones seen in minta, faux wood floors, cinder block walls, and drop ceilings.


Middle, East and West Halls stand on the crest of a low hill (the terrace) at the center of campus. Middle Hall (built 1844) and East and West Halls (built 1854) hold a special place in the history of Washington College, as they are the oldest surviving campus buildings. They serve as monuments to the original Common Building (completed in 1789), whose site they occupy. They are all three-story buildings constructed of brick.[25]

They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[26]

They now function as follows:


Principals and presidents

For more information, see List of presidents of Washington College.

White male with gray hair in academic robes with preaching tabs
William Smith, the first president of Washington College

At least 31 people have been the principal or president of Washington College since 1782, four of whom have been interim.[a] Of the 31 presidents only one, Joseph McLain, was an alumnus of the college and only one, Sheila Bair, was a woman. The presidents of the college have been drawn from a variety of areas including religion, military service, governmental service, and academia. Six Washington College presidents were ordained in the Episcopal Church or the Methodist Protestant Church before their term.[27][28][29][30][31] Several were also the rector of either Emmanuel Parish or St. Paul's in Chestertown concurrent to their term as president. Washington College presidents have come from many parts of public life. Two were engaged in military service before their term and four were in public service.[32][33] A singular president, Kurt M. Landgraf, was working in the private sector before his term.[34] Most of the remaining presidents were academics before becoming president of the college. Two were presidents of other colleges, seven were academic administrators, five were faculty members at other colleges, and three were faculty members at Washington College before their terms.


For more information, see List of Washington College alumni.

Photograph of four rows of men and women in formal-wear in their early-twenties sitting on a set of stairs with a brick building in the background
The class of 1927 sitting in front of William Smith Hall

Alumni of Washington College includes two Governors of Maryland,[35][36] a Governor of Delaware,[37] four United States Senators,[35][38][39][40] seven members of the United States House of Representatives,[35][41][42][43][40][44][45] and nine State senators. Outside of the world of politics, nine alumni of Washington College played at least one game in Major League Baseball including Jake Flowers who was on two World Series winning teams.[46] John Emory, the namesake of Emory University and Emory & Henry College, graduated from Washington College.[47] Several alumni were successful writers including James M. Cain and Đỗ Nguyên Mai.[48][49] Mary Adele France, who was the first president of St. Mary's College of Maryland, and Robert K. Crane, who discovered sodium-glucose cotransport, both found success in academia.[50][51] H. Lawrence Culp Jr. has found success in business as the CEO of Danaher Corporation and the CEO of General Electric.[52]



  1. ^ It is unknown who the principal was between 1805 and 1813.


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  34. ^ Campbell, Colin (5 June 2017). "Former DuPont executive brings management experience to new role as Washington College president". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  35. ^ a b c United States Congress. "Robert Wright (id: W000768)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  36. ^ White, Frank F. (1970). The Governors of Maryland 1777–1970. Annapolis, MD: The Hall of Records Commission. pp. 111–115. Archived from the original on 10 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  37. ^ Addresses Delivered at the Formal Presentation of the Portraits of the Governors of Delaware to the State, Thursday, May 26th, 1898. Dover, DE: Press of the Delawarean. 1898. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  38. ^ United States Congress. "Ezekiel F. Chambers (id: C000282)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  39. ^ United States Congress. "George Vickers (id: V000095)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  40. ^ a b United States Congress. "Charles Hopper Gibson (id: G000157)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  41. ^ United States Congress. "Dudley Roe (id: R000381)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  42. ^ United States Congress. "James Barroll Ricaud (id: R000192)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  43. ^ United States Congress. "John W. Crisfield (id: C000907)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  44. ^ United States Congress. "Robert Franklin Brattan (id: B000773)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  45. ^ United States Congress. "Thomas Alan Goldsborough (id: G000265)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  46. ^ Palmer et al. 2006, p. 223
  47. ^ Robert Emory (1841). The Life of the Rev. John Emory, D. D.: One of the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church. G. Lane. p. 14. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  48. ^ Zinsser, David (1978). "James M. Cain, The Art of Fiction No. 69". The Paris Review. Spring-Summer 1978 (73). Archived from the original on 23 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  49. ^ Darrach, Amanda (9 October 2018). "Both Sides Now". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on 26 December 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  50. ^ McGee, Trish (10 May 2009). "Kerr award winner will receive record amount". The Star Democrat. Archived from the original on 13 November 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  51. ^ Hamilton, Kirk L. (2013). "Robert K. Crane—Na+-glucose cotransporter to cure?". Frontiers in Physiology. 4: 53. doi:10.3389/fphys.2013.00053. ISSN 1664-042X. PMC 3605518. PMID 23525627.
  52. ^ Chin, Kimberly (1 October 2018). "A Look at Larry Culp's Career". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 11 November 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.


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