The Administration Building was constructed in 1909.
It all started at a unique intersection of paths.
When the American Baptist Convention sought a home for a new academic endeavor in Southern California, and the citizens of the youthful city of Redlands—incorporated just 19 years earlier—dreamed of prosperity through education in their community, Jasper Newton Field, minister of the First Baptist Church of Redlands, led a campaign for the University of Redlands. The citizens—people of many different denominations—armed Field with a generous offer of land for the school and a large sum of money to begin. With that offer, he convinced the Convention.
Field was selected by the board of trustees as the first president. He said of the University, “while it is a Baptist institution … let it be a school where children of other denominations can come … without having their denominational preferences interfered with in the least.”
The University’s mission was laid out early and clearly: “The University of Redlands aims to mould the mind and the heart so that in the conflict of life, keenness and conscience shall go forth together. It seeks to impress its pupils with the idea that making men is more important than making money; that it is better to live a life than make a living.”
Construction of the iconic Administration Building—which sits upon what Field dubbed “Inspiration Hill”—began in 1909 and the first classes were held that fall. With nine faculty, 10 courses of study, and 59 students, the University of Redlands embarked upon its mission, conferring diplomas to its first three graduates in June, 1910.
Students wrote the alma mater, chose school colors of maroon and gray, and selected the bulldog as mascot. Pi Chi, the first men’s fraternity, was founded in 1909, followed by sorority Delta Kappa Psi in 1910, along with Pi Kappa Chi, a women’s literary society.
Publication of the school newspaper began soon after. Athletics were firmly established as an important part of students’ educations. In 1913, a group of students, mostly freshman, cleared land on a mountainside north of the University to create the “R”. So popular was the college letter that La Letra was chosen as the name for the yearbook.
The University grew in students, faculty, and programs during those first decades, but finances often troubled the school. George Cortner was appointed business manager in 1915, and served until his retirement in 1946. His skill guaranteed that the University would not only survive, but grow and prosper. Cortner Hall was later named in his honor.
The campus soon outgrew its space, and through the 1910s and 1920s construction included new residence halls along the Quad, the Hall of Science (renamed Duke Hall in honor of second President Victor Duke), the Hall of Letters, Fine Arts, Currier Gym, Larsen Hall (the library) and, perhaps the most famous of campus buildings—the Memorial Chapel. By the time the Great Depression hit in 1929, University of Redlands had taken shape—thanks in large part to generous gifts from donors.
While the Depression created its own set of challenges, the University persevered. World War II brought a new group of students to campus known as the V-12, part of a U.S. Navy training unit. It was this group who managed to break some of the old traditions and finally convince the trustees and administration to allow dancing on campus.
In 1945, George Armacost was appointed the University’s fifth president. Redlands grew and changed over the course of his 25 years of leadership. Both the student body and faculty grew in numbers and diversity. Additional buildings were added, including Watchorn Hall for music, Hornby Hall for science, and residence facility Cortner Hall.
Two important innovations were realized at the University during this time. The 1959-1960 academic year saw the beginning of the Salzburg Program for study abroad, and new directions in teaching and learning were codified with the founding of Johnston Center for Integrative Studies in 1969.
The Alfred North Whitehead College for Lifelong Learning (or Whitehead College) was founded as the Alfred North Whitehead College of Liberal and Career Studies in 1976, became a center in 1979 and was restored to college status in 1995.
Whitehead was a mathematician and philosopher who advocated education for working adults in England in the early 1900s. The School of Education was separated from Whitehead College in 2000 and the School of Business followed in 2001. The Whitehead name is only used in historical and ceremonial contexts.
In 1982, the community celebrated the diamond anniversary of the University’s founding, led by Doug Moore, the seventh president. The year of events and programs had lasting effects—most notably the founding of Town & Gown, an organization dedicated to facilitating relationships between the University and surrounding communities and raising money to aid students from the Inland Empire.
Over the next two-and-a-half decades, major campaigns spearheaded by President James Appleton grew the University’s Endowment Fund and added much-needed buildings to the campus, including the Stauffer Science Center, Lewis Hall for environmental studies, and Appleton Hall, named in the president’s honor. By 2010, more facilities were added for art and theatre, the Ann Peppers Hall & the Center for the Arts.
More than a century after the founding of University of Redlands, students continue to be at the center of the academic experience, with a diversity of programs both academic and extracurricular, and the mission remains fundamentally unchanged: educating minds and hearts.