A Brief History
Theodore Search

Philadelphia University was founded in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School, in the wake of the 1876 Centennial Exposition. A group of textile manufacturers, led by Theodore Search, noticed a sizeable gap between the quality and variety of American textile products and those displayed by European mills. To address this, the group established the School to educate America's textile workers and managers.

Several years later, the School affiliated with the Pennsylvania Museum (now the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and School of Industrial Art. By the mid-1890s, the School had settled at Broad and Pine Streets in downtown Philadelphia. The School survived the Depression and entered a new period of growth at the outset of World War II. In 1941, the School was granted the right to award baccalaureate degrees and changed its name to the Philadelphia Textile Institute.

By 1949, the School, which was no longer affiliated with the museum, began conducting classes at its present site in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. Throughout the 1950s, the School continued to grow, and in 1961, changed its name to Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science. The student population doubled from 1954 to 1964, and again by 1978. Programs in the arts and sciences and business administration were added. The institution purchased an adjoining property in 1972, doubling the size of its campus.

As Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science, the institution offered its first graduate degree, the Master's of Business Administration, in 1976. With the purchase of properties in the nineteen-eighties, the size of the campus nearly doubled again and grew to include additional classrooms, research laboratories, student residences and athletic facilities.

In 1984, the year that celebrated the Centennial of the founding of the school, James P. Gallagher became the President of the college. He would go on to serve as president for over twenty years.

The College continued throughout the '90s to provide its students with the highest quality education and real-world experience demanded by their chosen professions, adding majors in a wide range of fields. To better reflect the institution's breadth and depth, the College applied for and was granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1999. And, in a historic move, the Board of Trustees voted to change the School's name to Philadelphia University, making it the only private university to be named after the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science became Philadelphia University on July 13, 1999.

The University now has six schools: the Schools of Architecture, Business Administration, Design and Media, Engineering and Textiles, Liberal Arts, and Science and Health. Its 100 acre campus now includes The Kanbar Campus Center, a 72,000 square-foot student center —named for benefactor Maurice Kanbar — class of 1952, and the extension of Althouse Hall that became The Gallagher Athletic, Recreation and Convocation Center in 2006.

On October 3, 2008, the University's Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a strategic plan that will shape the future of Philadelphia University through 2013 and years to come. That same weekend of Homecoming, 2008, the University officially inaugurated its new president: Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D.