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La Salle University History: Timeline

Information about the history of La Salle University and the University Archives


1863:  La Salle College receives its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and opens at St. Michael’s Parish (2nd and Jefferson Streets).


1867:  La Salle College moves to Filbert and Juniper Streets.


1869:  La Salle grants its first bachelor’s degrees.


1886:  La Salle College moves to the former Bouvier mansion at 1240 North Broad Street.


1913:  La Salle celebrates its Golden Jubilee (50th anniversary).


1918:  La Salle’s enrollment in its Collegiate department drops sharply during World War I.


1926: La Salle purchases ten acres at 20th and Olney Avenue for a new campus.


1928:  President Brother Dorotheus Lewis breaks ground for the new La Salle campus.


1930:  La Salle College moves to 20th Street and Olney Avenue. (La Salle High School moved to this location in 1929.)


1930:  La Salle launches its first varsity basketball season.


1931:  The Collegian student newspaper publishes its first issue


1931:  Cardinal Dennis Dougherty dedicates and blesses La Salle’s initial three buildings at the 20th and Olney campus (College Hall, the Brothers’ Residence, and the future Wister Hall).


1931:  La Salle begins its first varsity football season.


1932:  La Salle officially selects and announces “Explorers” as the nickname for its sports teams.


1934:  The Masque presents its first dramatic production for the general public, “Sun Up.”


1935:  La Salle first fraternity, Sigma Phi Lambda, is organized.


1935:  La Salle celebrates its first Baccalaureate Mass.


1936:  La Salle opens McCarthy Stadium.


1938:  La Salle celebrates its Diamond Jubilee (75th anniversary), including the successful financial campaign to purchase ten additional acres for the campus.

1938: Bro. Elzear Alfred founds the La Salle Civic and Social Congress, a worker education program that ran free courses in psychology, management, and public speaking for Philadelphia’s businessmen and workers.


1940:  The first Explorer yearbook is published.


1940:  McShain Hall opens.


1941:  Football is suspended after the 1941 season because of World War II. 


1942:  President Brother Edwin Anselm, who guided La Salle during the challenges of the Great Depression, receives the first-ever Signum Fidei Medal from the Alumni Association.


1944:  Due to World War II, La Salle College’s enrollment reaches a modern low of 97 students.


1946:  La Salle’s Evening Division begins its first sessions.


1947:  Leonard Hall opens.


1948:  Benilde Hall opens.


1948:  La Salle’s first Olympian, swimmer Joe Verdeur, wins a Gold Medal in the breaststroke competition at the 1948 London Olympics.


1950:  The track and field team wins Middle Atlantic Conference honors.


1950:  La Salle’s Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) unit is established.


1950:  La Salle’s first graduate program (Master’s Degree in Religion) begins.


1951:  La Salle wins the Dad Vail Regatta Championships in collegiate rowing, the first of six victories during the 1950s.


1951:  La Salle launches Four Quarters, a professional literary magazine.


1952:  La Salle defeats Dayton University, 75-64, to win the National Invitational Tournament (basketball) at Madison Square Garden.


1952:  The new library building (later named the David Leo Lawrence Library) opens.


1953:  The first residence halls (St. Albert and St. Bernard) open.


1954:  La Salle defeats Bradley University, 92-76, to win the NCAA basketball championship.


1955:  The La Salle Explorers lose to the University of San Francisco in the finals of the NCAA basketball championship.


1955:  The School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business Administration a formally established.


1955:  Although its creation was officially announced in late 1954, the Big 5 begins its basketball competition during the 1955-1956 season. La Salle joined Temple, Penn, Villanova, and St. Joseph’s in showcasing the best talent in Philadelphia-area college basketball.


1956:  St. Cassian and St. Denis Residence Halls open.


1959:  La Salle’s Student Union building opens.


1960:  The Science Center, later named for Dr. Roland Holroyd, opens.


1960:  La Salle reorganizes its administration by creating Vice Presidents for Academics, Student Life, Business Affairs, and Public Relations.


1960:  La Salle College High School relocates to the new high school campus in Springfield Township.


1961:  La Salle establishes the Hall of Athletes with charter members Joe Verdeur, Tom Gola, Frank Loughney, Ira Davis, and Al Cantello. 


1961: The Student Union building is built.


1961:  Dr. Roland Holroyd and Dr. Joseph Flubacher receive the first Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.


1961:  The Honors Program begins primarily as independent study courses for juniors and seniors. In 1963, formal honors sections were established in nearly all liberal arts programs.


1962:  St. Edward and St. Francis Residence Halls open.


1963:  La Salle celebrates its Centenary (100th anniversary).


1963:  La Salle purchases the Olney Garden Apartments, later renamed the La Salle Apartments.


1963:  Although a handful of women (along with male students) had enrolled in courses offered by the La Salle Civic and Social Congress in the 1940s, the first recognizable and sizeable group of women at La Salle is the Sisters’ Science Institute. 63 Sisters attend a series of summer enrichment programs for Archdiocesan Sisters teaching science.


1965: The former Auditorium in College Hall is converted into the Students’ Chapel (later named the De La Salle Chapel).


1966:  St. George, St. Hilary, and St. Jerome Residence Halls open.


1966:  La Salle’s Faculty Senate begins under President Charles A. J. Halpin.


1967: La Salle founds the Urban Studies Center, which supported community development in the surrounding neighborhoods by providing cultural and educational programs, project and organizational development services, and community service.


1967:  La Salle’s first full-time women faculty members, Dr. Minna Weinstein and Dr. Diane Blumenthal, begin teaching.


1967:  La Salle’s Evening Division first admits women to its degree-granting programs.


1968:  Kathryn Fitzgerald becomes the first woman to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from La Salle.


1969:  A peaceful, four-day demonstration by students in College Hall convinces La Salle to make ROTC optional for incoming freshmen.


1969:  The Explorers finish the 1968-69 basketball season with an incredible 23-1 record under Coach Tom Gola, including a classic showdown victory over Villanova.


1969:  The first group of women to enroll in La Salle’s Day Division for academic credit are student nurses from nearby Germantown Hospital.


1970:  La Salle becomes fully coeducational with the admittance of women to the Day Division.  St. Edward’s Hall is converted into a dorm for female residents.


1971:  Olney Hall opens.



1971:  La Salle launches women’s basketball, its first sport for women.


1972:  Hayman Hall (later renovated as Hayman Center) opens.


1973:  Dr. Roland Holroyd, the legendary biology professor, retires from active teaching after fifty-three years at La Salle.


1974:  La Salle’s first service sorority (Gamma Sigma Sigma) begins.


1975:  The La Salle Art Museum officially opens on the lower level of Olney Hall.


1977:  La Salle opens its first satellite campus by offering Evening Division courses at Archbishop Ryan High School.


1979:  La Salle purchases the Weston Court apartment complex and reopens it as St. Teresa Court.


1980:  La Salle purchases the Good Shepherd property along Chew Street from the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.


1980:  La Salle reaches its highest-ever enrollment with 7,661 students matriculated in the Fall Semester.


1980:  La Salle’s field hockey team wins the AIAW Division II national championship.


1980:  The Department of Nursing is founded.


1983:  St. Katharine’s Residence Hall and North Dining Hall (later renamed Blue and Gold Dining Commons) open.


1984:  La Salle receives University status from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


1984:  La Salle acquires Peale House and the heart of the original Belfield estate.


1987:  La Salle loses to Southern Mississippi in the National Invitation Tournament championship basketball game at Madison Square Garden.


1987:  The Japanese Tea Ceremony House officially opens.


1988:  Connelly Library opens.


1988:  La Salle signs an agreement of sale to obtain the St. Basil property (“the South Campus”) from the Sisters of St. Basil.  Final settlement is reached in 1989.  


1989:  St. Miguel Court Townhouses open.


1989:  The former Lawrence Library is converted into the Lawrence Administration Center.


1990:  St. John Neumann Residence Hall opens.


1991:  The Evening Division becomes the School for Continuing Studies.


1992:  Brother Patrick Ellis ends his presidency, the longest in La Salle’s history.


1992:  La Salle’s School of Nursing is formally established.


1993:  John J. Shea ‘59 becomes the first layperson to be elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees.


1994:  The Communication Center opens.


1995:  The School for Continuing Studies becomes the Office of Continuing Studies.


1997:  La Salle’s Bucks County Campus (Newtown Township) opens.


1997:  Intercollegiate football returns to La Salle.


1998:  Nicholas A. Giordano ’65 begins his year-long term as La Salle’s Interim President and becomes La Salle’s first lay president.


1998:  La Salle’s first doctoral degree program, the Psy.D. (Clinical Psychology), is inaugurated; the first three students graduate in 2002.


1998:  In the closing weeks of the 1997-1998 season, the first women’s and men’s basketball games are played in the renovated Hayman Center. In November, the court is dedicated as the Tom Gola Arena.


2005:  The College of Professional and Continuing Studies launches.


2005:  St. Basil Court and Treetops Café open.


2006:  The newly expanded Bucks County Center opens.


2006:  The School of Nursing is renamed the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.


2007:  La Salle purchases the Germantown Hospital property from the Albert Einstein Health Network.


2007:  The “Shoulder to Shoulder: Securing the Future” major gift initiative ended with $28.2 million raised.


2008:  La Salle’s Montgomery County Center at Plymouth Meeting opens.


2008:   St. Benilde Tower is opened and blessed, and later the new pedestrian bridge was lowered by crane into its position over Wister Street to connect the central campus with the West Campus.


2009:   Grand opening of the stores of The Shoppes at La Salle.


2009:  The renovated Holroyd Hall, featuring the Hugh and Nancy Devlin Center for Science and Technology, opens.


2012:  The first separate Commencement ceremony for recipients of graduate degree programs (since the 1950s) is held on May 18.


2012-2013:  La Salle celebrates its sesquicentennial (150th anniversary).


2013:  The La Salle Explorers earned a spot in the NCAA’s Sweet 16.


2015: Inauguration of Colleen Hanycz, La Salle’s first woman and first non-interim lay president.