As one of only 24 Franciscan institutions in the United States, Alvernia University has been making an impact for more than 60 years. What started as a small college serving the local community has turned into a successful university that garners attention from across the nation. We work to unlock students’ potential through practical, hands-on learning to prepare them for a lifetime of leadership and positive impact on others.
Alvernia’s Franciscan heritage includes a rigorous intellectual tradition that recognizes and values the importance of diversity of thought, faiths and cultures. We challenge our students to shape the world and transform it as working professionals, concerned citizens and caring community members, consistent with principles and teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In 1926, Alvernia University’s roots were planted when the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis established an orphanage in the building now known as Francis Hall. The orphanage eventually became an elementary school.
Beginning as a college for the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in 1958 with 23 freshman and eight sophomore students, the institution became a four-year liberal arts school. Two years later, Alvernia received its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The school soon opened its doors to female students from the laity, and the first male students were enrolled in 1971. Since then, the university has grown in both educational opportunities and enrollment.
Today, Alvernia’s enrollment has grown to nearly 3,000 students. While already issuing bachelor’s degrees, graduate programs were added in 1999. In September 2008, officials announced that the institution attained university status and would be known as Alvernia University.
Guided by Franciscan values and the ideal of “knowledge joined with love,” and rooted in Catholic and liberal arts traditions, Alvernia is a rigorous, caring and inclusive learning community committed to academic excellence and to being and fostering broadly educated, lifelong learners; reflective professionals and engaged citizens; and ethical leaders with moral courage.
To Be a Distinctive Franciscan University, Committed to Personal and Social Transformation, Through Integrated, Community-based, Inclusive, and Ethical Learning.
- Reverence for the dignity of each individual
- Service to others in the local and global community
- Hospitality as expressed in an openness to all
- Formation of a caring community
- Education of the whole person — mind, body, heart and spirit
- Gospel-centered values
- Reverence for all creation
- Care for the environment
- Belief in the basic goodness of life as demonstrated through the expression of joy and optimism
- Using the Franciscan intellectual tradition in education
- Commitment to social justice
- Sense of responsibility to others
- Development of moral integrity