The College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University is built on a tradition of excellence nearly two centuries long in the arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities. Its origins are in the founding of Western Reserve College in 1826 in Hudson, Ohio, about 26 miles southwest of Cleveland. In 1882 the college moved to Cleveland, where it formed the basis for Western Reserve University, which flourished with several professional and graduate schools in addition to the liberal arts. The institution also served as a magnet for other artistic, cultural, educational, medical, and scientific organizations, now its neighbors in the extraordinary setting known as University Circle.
Central to the heritage of the college are the traditions of the programs that preceded it: Adelbert College, as the men’s undergraduate unit of Western Reserve University was known after the move to Cleveland; Flora Stone Mather College, initially founded in 1888 as the Cleveland College for Women; and Cleveland College, founded in 1925 in downtown Cleveland to serve part-time and adult students. These three units, each with a distinguished history of scholarship and achievement, were brought together in 1972 under the revived name of Western Reserve College. The college took its present form in 1992 when undergraduate and graduate programs and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences were united with those in the physical sciences to form the College of Arts and Sciences.
Today the college continues to benefit from its participation in several of the most important developments in higher education since the early 19th century. Examples include:
Engagement in issues of social justice. Reserve College’s early years in Hudson saw debates between two groups, each opposing slavery. After long and bitter conflict, supporters of the Abolitionist Movement carried the day.
Emergence of science. The college in Hudson was home to early and distinguished programs in astronomy and mathematics. Later, in 1887, Professor Edward Morley collaborated with Professor Albert Michelson of the Case School of Applied Science in a series of experiments that remain among the most significant in the field of physics.
Education of women. In the 1850s, the college’s Cleveland-based Department of Medicine awarded six of the first seven medical degrees granted to women in this country. And the founding of the College for Women in 1888 was only the second instance of a separate “coordinate” college for women at a major university.
Demographic and technological change. Following World War II, enrollment in Cleveland College swelled with returning veterans, and increasing demand for advanced education and research in a wide range of fields was driven by the introduction of new technologies and fields of study.