Ripon College, founded in 1851, was converted from a college preparatory school to a four-year college in 1863. Its first class — four women: Luthera H. Adams, Harriet H. Brown, Susan A.W. Saulsbury and Mary F. Spencer — was graduated in 1867.
Today, Ripon’s campus encompasses 250 tree-covered acres and includes 25 buildings. The original three limestone buildings which witnessed the commencement of 1867 remain in use: East, Smith and West Halls. These, along with seven other campus buildings, were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
A traditional college of the liberal arts, Ripon looks ahead without forgetting its distinguished past. College Days, which first appeared as a monthly literary magazine in 1868, is the oldest continually published college newspaper in Wisconsin.
The Ripon football team first took the field against Lawrence University in 1893 (Ripon won 24-6) to begin what is believed to be the oldest football rivalry in the state. In 1911, Ripon College’s debate team wrote the constitution for Pi Kappa Delta, now a national honorary society for debaters and orators. Its Hall of Fame now is located in East Hall’s Kresge Little Theatre. The National Forensic League was founded at the College, where the first national speech tournament for high school students was held in 1931.
In recognition of its academic excellence, the College was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1953, placing it among a select group of the nation’s top colleges. Ripon has had three Rhodes Scholars: Latimer Johns, class of 1911; Thomas Reinecke, class of 1968; and Zachary S. Morris, class of 2002.