Hartwick History


Originally located near Cooperstown, NY, Hartwick Seminary became a four-year college in 1927 and held its first classes in the city of Oneonta in 1928.

Hartwick’s roots reach back to 1797 with the founding of Hartwick Seminary through the will of John Christopher Hartwick. Hartwick was a Lutheran minister who arrived in 1746 from Germany to lead several mission congregations of early settlers along the Hudson and Mohawk rivers. Shortly after his death, his dream of establishing an institution of higher learning became a reality with the founding of Hartwick Seminary in 1797. The New York State Legislature in 1816 incorporated the new school—the first Lutheran seminary in America—as a classical academy and theological seminary.

The Seminary and Academy had a long and useful history, training more than 300 ministers and educating over 3,000 young men and women. In the mid-1920s, Lutheran leaders in the state decided to add a four-year “college department.” With the support of the church and a group of local citizens, the College opened in 1928 in Oneonta, just a few miles from the original site of the Seminary.

The College developed slowly and gathered strength through the 1940s and ’50s under the presidencies of Dr. Henry J. Arnold and Dr. Miller A.F. Ritchie. From 1959 to 1969, under Dr. Frederick M. Binder, there was a significant growth in size, physical plant, budget, and endowment.

In 1968, the College and the Lutheran Church concluded that the time had come for an amicable separation, and Hartwick became an independent college.

Dr. Adolph G. Anderson served as president from 1969 to 1976, a period during which Hartwick developed a more flexible and innovative curriculum.

From 1977 to 1992, under Dr. Philip S. Wilder Jr., the College was characterized by the strengthening of its faculty and student body, and by the building of strong financial support.

Between 1992 and 2003, under the tenure of Dr. Richard A. Detweiler, the College grew into the modern age, providing each student a notebook computer and offering freshmen the opportunity to study abroad.

Richard P. Miller, Jr. served as President from 2003 to 2008, during which time Hartwick underwent numerous campus improvements and solidified a strong financial base.

On July 1, 2008, Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich assumed the presidency of Hartwick College, seeking to strengthen the College’s reputation while helping better prepare students for the challenges posed by a global society. Early in her tenure, she presented a collective vision of Hartwick College—an Organizing Principle and Strategic Framework that together have increased Hartwick’s efficiency and effectiveness. Under her leadership, the College also launched its unique and innovative Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Program in the fall of 2009.

Hartwick has grown into a well-respected college of the liberal arts and sciences enrolling 1,480 undergraduates. It is a place of active learning, where the faculty focuses on challenging and mentoring students through advanced research opportunities, innovative programming, and experiential learning.

For more about the history of the College, visit the Paul F. Cooper Jr. Archives. Online exhibits and archival papers are available on the Archives webpages. The Archives collects and preserves materials that reflect the biography of John Christopher Hartwick and the educational institutions bearing his name: Hartwick Seminary, Hartwick Academy, and Hartwick College. In addition, the Archives houses numerous special collections.

Learn more about Hartwick’s history.

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