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Message from President

Message from William Penn University President John Ottosson

William Penn University has, throughout our history, welcomed students from all countries, races, nationalities, and religions. That is our past, it is also our present and future. Everyone is welcome at Penn.

William Penn University was established in humble circumstances and nurtured by visionary Quaker pioneers. Their message was that education could transform lives and should be available to all. Since 1873 our students have been economically, ethnically, geographically and religiously diverse. From all walks of lives, privileged and humble, from across the country and globe, from religious backgrounds of all types, the environment at Penn illuminates all. An experience that has transformed lives and continues to do so.

As our founders believed there is indeed, “that of God in everyone.” For those who come to Penn, that belief is magnified with the lessons learned here since 1873.  I like to call it the Light of Christ that shines in all his children.  That understanding comes naturally on campus as our students, staff and faculty learn to see the value in others who do not look, believe or think like them.  That knowledge leads to cooperation, cooperation leads to understanding, understanding leads to friendships, and friendships lead to peace.  Arguably there is no greater need in the world today than this lesson.  Life becomes purposeful and meaningful in this way.

Penn’s first graduate was a woman in 1875 and our first documented graduate of color was in 1902.  It was demonstrated in the 1940’s with an enrollment of just over 200 but comprised of varying ethnic groups, 22 religious affiliations, from 24 states and two foreign countries.  Diversity was as important then and throughout our history as it is in today’s student body, from 40 states and 20 other countries.

But diversity for diversity’s sake is not what drives us. It is the Penn ideal that is driven by belief in the value of everyone.  The belief that we have much to learn from each other. That as we come to understand that each of us can make a difference in our sphere of influence. Thus, the world will become a better place.

That is what occurs every year and has for almost a century and a half at William Penn University. For those of us who have experienced it you know how naturally it appears and what a difference it has made in our lives. For those of you looking for a place to continue your education, join us. Come and make friends with people who aren’t like you, either through skin color, religion, culture or upbringing. It will enrich your lives and enrich our campus. This understanding is arguably the key to a successful career.

Again, William Penn University has, throughout our history, welcomed students from all countries, races, nationalities and religions. That is our past, it is also our present and future. Everyone is welcome at Penn.  Come join us today in a unique environment with deep historical roots.

John E.E. Ottosson, Class of 1984
President, William Penn University