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First Faculty of the College and Academy of Philadelphia, 1754-1757


The College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) was chartered in 1755 and its first class graduated in 1757, but its roots lay in the Academy of Philadelphia, chartered in 1749 and opened for classes in 1751. William Smith, hired as Provost of the Academy in 1754, first reorganized the Academy curriculum and then, because of the demand for a degree-granting program, encouraged the establishment of the college.

During the early years of the College, there was often overlap between the College and the Academy. The first College faculty members had all been professors or tutors in the Academy; for quite some time professors often taught in both the College and the Academy. Also, some members of the Class of 1757 served as salaried tutors in the Academy during their college years.

The distinction between Academy students and members of the College Class of 1757 was blurred in other ways as well. Before the establishment of the College, many in the Class of 1757 had been advanced students in the Academy's Latin School; after the establishment of the College, advanced students in the Academy continued to share some classes with College students.



College Professors


Portrait of Francis Alison

Academy Professors


Portrait of Thomas Barton


More on Penn's first College experience, 1754-1757


The 187 pages (including many biographies) of this exhibit were researched, written and created by Mary D. McConaghy, Michael Silberman, and Irina Kalashnikova. This exhibit first appeared on the Web in 2004, as part of the celebration of Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday.