» Chapman University History Timeline

1861 -- On March 4, Hesperian College opens in Woodland, California, founded by the Disciples of Christ to provide Bible and religious training for California youth. Though originally more of an academy than a college, this is the first of several Disciples of Christ colleges established in California. This is also the date of President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration as the 16th President of the United States.

1863 -- Hesperian faculty member James M. Martin becomes Hesperian College’s first president.

1874 -- Pierce Christian College begins classes in September in College City, California following the Disciple’s education mandate.

1875 -- Benjamin H. Smith, former president of Christian University, Missouri, takes over as Hesperian’s president.

1878 -- Faculty member, Allen M. Elston, becomes president of Hesperian College. Prior to his presidency, he was Hesperian’s Principal of the Primary Department (1872-1878).

1892 -- Henry D. McAneney takes office as the last president of Hesperian College. He would also serve as president of Berkeley Bible Seminary and assist in the transfer of its assets to California Christian College in 1920.

1896 -- On July 20, Berkeley Bible Seminary is incorporated operating originally out of the First Christian Church of Berkeley and later in its own building on Geary Street in San Francisco. This institution assumes the franchises of Hesperian and Pierce Colleges. Berkeley Bible Seminary is intended by Church leaders to simplify the Church goal of education by supporting one school instead of several.

1909 -- At a meeting of the Christian Ministers Association of Southern California held in Los Angeles, Charles C. Chapman proposes that a Disciples’ school be established in southern California. A feasibility committee is created.

1912 -- On February 12, the Christian Ministers’ Association of Southern California Education Committee contacts the trustees of Berkeley Bible Seminary, having heard of the possible move of the school from its campus on Geary, and inquires if there is any interest in relocating the school to Southern California.

1912 -- At the Northern California Convention held in Santa Cruz on July 19, the move of Berkeley Bible Seminary to Southern California is approved. In August, the Southern California Convention at Long Beach establishes a committee to plan the new college; Charles C. Chapman is named chair and donates the first $50,000 towards the future school.

1918 -- California Christian College is incorporated on February 19.

1919 -- At the Southern California Convention on January 12, Charles C. Chapman makes a challenge pledge of $200,000 towards the new college on the condition that the members of the Church match it; within a few weeks he raises his pledge to $400,000.

1920 -- On acquiring the assets of the Berkeley Bible Seminary, now known as the California Bible College, (approximately $50,000 and 25 books that will start the new library), an amalgamation of California Bible College and the California Christian College occurs on April 7 with the new name, California School of Christianity.

1920 -- Beginning in August with the $25,000 pledge of Mrs. Maria L. Harris of Santa Ana, 4,441 members of the Church, north and south, meet C.C. Chapman’s challenge pledge with a final total of $828,542.10 raised for the California School of Christianity.

1920 -- During September, California School of Christianity holds its first session in the Wilshire Boulevard Christian Church in Los Angeles with a student body of ten and two faculty members. The two faculty members are Cecil F. Cheverton, a former professor at Eureka College Illinois, and acting dean of the new college; and Dennison A. Russell, the last dean of the California Bible College and also from Eureka College.

1921 -- In September, with a student body of 72, the Class of 1923 is the first to take classes on the college’s new campus at 766 North Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.

1921 -- Vernon Stauffer, from Hiram College, Ohio, is brought in as the new dean of the college.

1921 -- Harris Hall, named for Maria L. Harris and the first new building to be built on the North Vermont campus, is officially opened on December 4. Harris Hall, by 1924, would become exclusively the women’s dormitory.

1921 -- The Men’s Basketball Team is organized.

1922 -- Founders’ Hall, the men’s dormitory named in honor of the 4,441 original donors to the college, is officially opened January 21.

1922 -- The college orchestra is organized.

1922 -- Arthur C. Braden replaces Vernon Stauffer as dean of the college.

1923 -- California School of Christianity changes its name to the originally chosen California Christian College, commonly referred to as Cal-Christian.

1923 -- Arthur C. Braden is inaugurated as California Christian College’s first president on January 15.

1923 -- The gymnasium is built and the Football, Tennis and Women’s Basketball Teams are organized.

1923 -- The college yearbook, Ceer, begins publication; the name is a play on the word “seer”, or biblical prophet, and so the Ceer implies that the yearbook will be the “College Prophet.”

1924 -- The Lesser Prophet, a handbook for new students, begins publication.

1925 -- The school mascot officially becomes the Panther with the presentation by the Class of 1925 to the college of a life-sized papier-mâché ex-movie prop.

1925 -- President Braden reinstates the Ivy Chain ceremony at Commencement on the North Vermont campus that had begun originally on at Hesperian College.

1925 -- The socially-minded Faculty Club is organized.

1925 -- The California Christian Collegian begins publication, a periodical aimed at alumni, students and friends of Cal- Christian.

1926 -- The first student newspaper, The Panther’s Meow, begins publication.

1926 -- Work is begun on the new Liberal Arts Building.

1929 -- Cal-Christian reaches a student enrollment of more than 400 students and its endowment fund exceeds $350,000.

1929 -- The Cheverton Trophy, for the outstanding graduating senior, is given to the school by the Class of 1929.

1930 -- Cecil F. Cheverton is inaugurated college president on November 16 and introduces the “LIFE-centered” curriculum intended to produce a well-rounded individual.

1932 -- Due to financial conditions brought on by the Great Depression, the football program is suspended at the end of the fall 1932 season; it finishes with a record of 5 – 1 – 0. Charles C. Chapman’s son, Irvin C. “Ernie” Chapman '33, is a team member.

1932 -- The Panther takes over as the new student newspaper.

1934 -- During the June meeting of the Board of Trustees, a motion is passed to honor Cal-Christian’s greatest benefactor, Charles C. Chapman, by renaming the institution Chapman College.

1940 -- Cecil F. Cheverton steps down as president and assumes the title of director to allow himself time to concentrate on developing the college’s academic program.

1941 -- In the spring, the North Vermont campus is leased first to the U.S. Navy who uses the campus for an engineering ratings training school and then to the Los Angeles Board of Education in 1943 and finally, in 1944, to Pacific International University.

1942 -- Trustee George N. Reeves ‘27 resigns his position on the board and assumes the presidency of Chapman College on May 1. President Reeves is the first to talk publicly about the possibility of the college becoming a university; a dream that C.C. Chapman had held for several years.

1942 -- Due to dwindling student enrollment because of the Second World War, Chapman College moves its administration and student body onto Whittier College’s campus and classes begin on the new campus in September.

1944 -- On April 5, the College’s greatest benefactor, Charles C. Chapman passes away a few months short of his 91st birthday.

1945 -- For the new term in September, Chapman College moves back into its buildings on North Vermont Avenue and John L. Davis introduces the Single Subject Study Plan to the curriculum. The Single Subject Study Plan will be in use until 1959 when the more traditional system will be re-instated.

1945 -- The Woman’s Campus Club begins.

1945 -- President George N. Reeves announces the need to move the college to a larger campus.

1945 -- The Faculty Council, the first formal faculty governing council, is organized.

1946 -- Dancing is allowed, for the first time, on campus.

1946 -- Forty percent of the student body consists of veterans taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. Eight Quonset huts and two pre-fabricated barrack buildings are bought from the military and erected on campus to provide housing for the influx of new students.

1953 -- The Booster Club is organized.

1954 -- After several possible future locations for the college are considered and rejected, Chapman College wins the bid for the former Orange High School campus in Orange, California on April 1.

1954 -- Classes begin at the start of the fall term in September on the new campus in Orange with the installation of the marble cornerstone from the auditorium on the North Vermont campus into the face of Memorial Hall. President George M. Reeves adds a bronze plaque to the cornerstone that references the places and dates of the three previous campuses: “Woodland A.D. 1861, Los Angeles A.D. 1920, and Orange A.D. 1954.”

1955 -- Chapman College joins the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the yearbook, Ceer, is first published on the Orange campus.

1956 -- Chairman of the Board J.E. Wilkinson becomes acting president on September 1 until a new president is hired to replace President George M. Reeves who resigns due to his health.

1956 -- The campus buildings get a coat of student-applied “California coral” paint. The pinkish hue would be the subject of much comment for many years to come.

1957 -- Dean of Hiram College John L. Davis comes to Chapman to assume the duties of college president.

1957 -- On January 12, the first Homecoming is held on the Orange campus.

1958 -- The Artist Lecture Series begins with Eleanor Roosevelt as the first speaker. The series would run for many years and feature many prestigious poets, artists, musicians, politicians and writers.

1958 -- The Great Films Guild program begins and shows some of the first art films in Orange County.

1958 -- Chapman College has its first All-American in basketball, Bob Hamblin '59.

1958 -- Chapman College opens its first adult program at El Toro Marine Air Station.

1959 -- Dormitories for both men and women are officially opened. Originally named West and East Halls (men and women, respectively) they would eventually be renamed Braden and Cheverton Halls.

1959 -- The Division of Graduate Studies is created.

1959 -- The Dean’s List is instituted.

1960 -- The Honors Program begins.

1961 -- On December 10 as part of the Artist Lecture Series, Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks on campus.

1962 -- The first Intercollegiate Elephant Race is held at CSU Fullerton; Chapman College comes in second.

1963 -- Harris Hall and Old Morlan Hall (south wing) buildings are completed.

1963 -- The old North Vermont campus in Los Angeles is sold and the buildings are demolished. The net earnings from the sale, approximately $600,000, are the beginnings of Chapman College’s endowment fund.

1964 -- The Management Center is created in conjunction with the University of Chicago Industrial Relations Center.

1965 -- The New Morlan Hall (north wing) building is completed.

1965 -- The Madrigal Singers, William Hall conducting, launch its first European concert tour.

1965 -- The Division of International Education is established to administer the new shipboard campus program. Initially named the Seven Seas Division, it would be renamed in 1967 as World Campus Afloat.

1966 -- The first Master Plan for the college is voted on and adopted by the Board of Trustees.

1966 -- The President’s Council is established. This board consisted of over 40 local community leaders brought together by President Davis to serve as senior counselors to the president.

1967 -- The Economic Forum is begun by James Farley and the President’s Council.

1967 -- KNAB-Radio Chapman College begins broadcasting.

1967 -- In response to a request from the military, the Division of Residence Education Centers is created to administer academic centers established on eight Marine Corps and Air Force bases in California.

1967 -- The Chapman Library opens its doors, the first building to be completed under the Master Plan and the first new academic building on the Orange campus.

1967 -- Barney Scholl '67, Senior Outfielder, becomes the first Chapman player to be selected to the Baseball All-American first team for the second year in a row.

1967 -- The Faculty Council writes and votes in a Faculty Constitution.

1968 -- Town and Gown is founded by a group of local women and headed by Patricia Hitt as its founding president.

1968 -- Annual giving tops $1 million.

1968 -- The Science Building is completed and will be named in 1969 the Hashinger Science Center after Edward and Margaret Hashinger.

1968 -- Chapman College wins its first NCAA (Div II) championship in baseball.

1971 -- Donald C. Kleckner, former president of Elmhurst College, becomes president of Chapman College.

1971 -- The Fashionables women’s organization is founded.

1972 -- The Chapman Library is named the Thurmond Clarke Memorial Library after jurist Thurmond Clarke.

1973 -- The infamous “pink” campus buildings get a new coat of brown paint.

1973 -- The Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic program begins.

1973 -- The President’s Circle is founded to help President Kleckner bring in major donors.

1974 -- The Davis Apartments and Community Center are completed.

1975 -- Due to economic reasons, including rising oil prices, the World Campus Afloat program is cancelled with the University of Colorado continuing the program in 1977.

1975 -- The Music Building is completed and later named Bertea Hall.

1975 -- The five original Orange High School campus buildings are placed on the National Register for Historically Preserved Buildings.

1975 -- Davis Chamberlin sits as acting college president until a permanent replacement for President Donald C. Kleckner is hired.

1976 -- The Nellie Gail Moulton Hall, containing the Waltmar Theater and the Guggenheim Art Gallery, is completed.

1976 -- The School of Business and Management is established.

1976 -- “The Box”, the original Orange High School Gymnasium, is torn down.

1977 -- G.T. “Buck” Smith is inaugurated as president.

1977 -- Professors James L. Doti and Esmael Adib hold the first Economic Forecast.

1978 -- The Harold Hutton Sports Center opens.

1979 -- Professor of Economics James L. Doti founds the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research (ACER).

1980 -- The Schweitzer Institute is established.

1980 -- The Food Science and Sports Medicine programs are added to the curriculum.

1981 -- Dr. William Hall directs first American Celebration.

1983 -- Enrollment reaches a high of 1,175 on the Orange campus.

1984 -- Former President Richard M. Nixon speaks on campus May 15.

1987 -- The Freshmen Seminar program is begun.

1987 -- The Association of University Business and Economic Centers presents Chapman College with the Award for Excellence for the Chapman College Economic and Business Review, published by the Anderson Center for Economic Research.

1987 -- The Tennis Team takes the NCAA (Div II) championship.

1988 -- Due to President Smith’s sabbatical leave, James L. Doti becomes acting college president and continues in this position until a replacement for Smith is found.

1989 -- Allen E. Koenig begins his presidency on October 1.

1991 -- On May 1, the California Secretary of State certifies Chapman College as Chapman University.

1991 -- The School of Education, formerly the Department of Education, is established.

1991 -- The Pralle-Sodaro Residence Hall, the first new residence hall in almost 20 years, opens.

1991 -- James L. Doti is appointed Chapman University’s 12th president in July by the Board of Directors.

1991 -- Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is established.

1992 -- Argyros Forum, named for Chairman of the Board George L. Argyros '59, opens.

1992 -- James L. Doti is inaugurated as Chapman University’s first president on April 30.

1993 -- A master’s degree program in Physical Therapy is instituted.

1994 -- The football program is officially re-started and a Chapman football team takes the field for the first time since 1932.

1994 -- The stadium is named the Ernie Chapman Stadium and Irvin C. “Ernie” Chapman '33 throws out the first football.

1994 -- Founders’ Hall is renamed Roosevelt Hall in honor of Life Trustee James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1995 -- The Chapman School of Law opens its doors in Anaheim (and receives full accreditation by ABA in 2002).

1995 -- The Women’s Softball Team takes the NCAA (Div III) championship.

1996 -- The School of Film and Television begins.

1999 -- With the construction of Donald P. Kennedy Hall, the Chapman School of Law is given a permanent home on the Orange campus.

1999 -- The Millennium Campaign begins a $200 million fund-raising event for facilities, programs and endowments.

1999 -- The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Business and Technology Building is dedicated, commonly called Beckman Hall.

2000 -- The Sunken Lawn in front of Memorial Hall is filled in, its trees removed, leveled to accommodate campus events and is named the Bert Williams ’35 Mall.

2001 -- The Academic Centers (College of Lifelong Learning) are re-named the Chapman University College.

2002 -- The Millennium Campaign concludes and succeeds in raising more than $215 million.

2002 -- The Partridge Dance Center opens at the corner of Maple and Cypress.

2003 -- The Robert and Marie Grey Rowing Center opens overlooking Newport Harbor on the Pacific Coast Highway.

2003 -- Baseball team wins College World Series and is named National Champions for DIII.

2004 -- Four new buildings: The Leatherby Libraries; the Merle and Marjorie Fish Interfaith Center containing the Ray and Pauline Wallace All Faiths Chapel and the J.E. and Flora Scott Wilkinson Founders Chapel; the Jerrold and Jacqueline Glass Residence Hall and the Ken and Toni Oliphant Hall are all completed during the 50 years in Orange celebration.

2004 -- Lawrence and Kristina Dodge’s generous gift establishes the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

2004 -- Lawrence and Kristina Dodge donate $20 million to establish Dodge College of Film and Media Arts; Marion Knott donates $5 million to build Knott Studios; ground broken on Knott Studios complex.
Chapman celebrates 50 years in Orange County.
University hosts grand opening of four new buildings — the Leatherby Libraries, Fish Interfaith Center/Wallace All-Faiths Chapel, Oliphant Hall and Glass Residence Hall — on campus.

2005 -- The Leatherby Libraries is dedicated February 15.

2005 -- The Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library is dedicated and opens in April on the 4th floor of the Leatherby Libraries.

2005 -- The Walter and Margaret Schmid Gate is dedicated.

2006 -- The Marion Knott Studios, housing the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, opens.

2007 -- Conservatory of Music and the Departments of Dance and Theatre unite to form the College of Performing Arts.

2007 -- The Fahmy Attallah, Ph.D. Piazza containing the Marion Halfacre Fountain, Lee Ann, Chris and Christa Lee Canaday Amphitheater and the Wells Fargo Stage is dedicated.

2008 -- Chapman University is ranked in the top ten in its category in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual “America’s Best Colleges” issue.

2008 -- The School of Education becomes the College of Educational Studies.

2008 -- The Anderson Athletics Complex opens. This complex includes the Zee Allred Aquatics Center, James and Nancy Baldwin Family Pavilion and the Ernie Chapman Stadium.

2008 -- The Schmid College of Science and the Department of Physics, Computational Science and Engineering are established.

2008 -- The Economic Science Institute, headed by Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith, opens at Chapman University.

2008 -- Chapman University College, the adult learners program, incorporates and separates from Chapman University.

2009 -- Chapman University College is renamed Brandman University.

2009 -- The Ambassador George L. Argyros Global Citizens Plaza is dedicated on March 28.

2010 -- The School of Law enters the top 100, second tier, according to U.S. News and World Report magazine.

2010 -- Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Holocaust survivor and author of more than 50 books, accepts an appointment as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at Chapman University.

2010 -- Yakir Aharonov, professor of theoretical physics, is awarded the 2010 National Medal of Science.

2010 -- Chapman University, partnered with researchers at Harvard and McGill Universities, becomes the newest branch of the Evolution Education Research Center.

2011 -- Chapman University celebrates 150 years of excellence in education.

2011 -- Civil rights activist, and University friend, Sylvia Mendez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

2013 -- Rinker Health Science Campus opens in Irvine.
Chapman’s School of Pharmacy is established.
Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler donate $55 million to name the Dale E. Fowler School of Law.

2014 -- Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences is created.

2016 -- Hilbert Museum of California Art opens.
Musco Center for the Arts opens.
Daniele C. Struppa becomes Chapman University’s 13th president.

2017 -- School of Pharmacy launches its first cohort

2018 -- Keck Center for Science and Engineering opens.
Vidal Arroyo ’19, a first-generation student, becomes Chapman’s first Rhodes Scholar.

2019 -- Chapman launches chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
Chapman earns Carnegie Classification of R2: Doctoral University — High Research Activity.
Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler School of Engineering opens.
20th Anniversary of Argyros School honors Argyros family and hosts President George W. Bush.
U.S. News and World Report ranks Chapman University #125 in National University category.
Baseball team wins College World Series and is named National Champions for DIII.

Compiled by Randolph Boyd
Special Collections Librarian
Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University