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Campus News / News

Rockford University celebrates 175 years of educational excellence

02/25/2022 8:25 am

Honors local partners; invites community to experience university history through public exhibition

ROCKFORD, Ill. (Feb. 25, 2022) – Rockford University, the region’s leading private four-year educational institution, is commemorating its 175th anniversary with a series of special events beginning today, February 25, the anniversary of the signing of its charter.

On February 25, 1847 a charter was signed to establish Rockford Female Seminary, and soon after a campus was built on an eight-acre site on the Rock River. Renamed Rockford College® in 1892, the institution was an educational pioneer from its founding, investing in advanced schooling for women at a time when many doubted its value.

In 2013, Rockford College® became Rockford University to better reflect the evolving institution and its many offerings in the traditional liberal arts and professional fields.

“Since 1847, Rockford University has pioneered educational opportunities for students who are passionate about learning, growth, and service,” said Rockford University President Dr. Eric W. Fulcomer. “Not many institutions make it to 175 years, and I am proud of the resilient and determined spirit that has served this university since its founding.”

To commemorate this anniversary, Rockford University is bestowing the inaugural community honors awards to seven regional organizations and businesses that have been partners and advocates throughout its 175-year history. Leaders from Collins Aerospace, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Puri Foundation, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rock Valley College, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Woodward, Inc. will be recognized during a luncheon at the university on Friday.

“We are grateful to reach the 175-year milestone, but Rockford University would not have succeeded this long without the ongoing support of our community,” said Fulcomer. “The seven organizations we recognize today have been partners, advocates, and champions of the university over the course of our history and have allowed us to deliver on our mission of preparing students for fulfilling lives, careers, and participation in a modern and changing society. We are very fortunate for their support.”

The university will host a series of celebrations for faculty, staff, and the school community throughout the day on Friday, with the signature event being the annual Charter Day Convocation, taking place at 4 p.m. in the university’s Maddox Theatre. This time-honored tradition features faculty and leadership processing in full academic regalia, remarks from President Fulcomer, and a keynote address by Charles Branham, Ph.D., alumnus from the class of 1967, and Emmy-award winning historian. It will also include a proclamation from Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and other special guests. Joining President Fulcomer on stage will be three of the university’s four living past presidents, Dr. William Shields, who served as president from 1992 to 2002, Dr. Paul Pribbenow, who served from 2002 to 2006, and Dr. Robert Head, who served from 2008 to 2016. The event is open to the Rockford community.

On Saturday, members of the public are invited to the opening of One Hundred Seventy Five, an exhibition of historical artifacts from the university’s archives. These little-seen relics, including historical photographs, vintage clothing, and the academic hoods and class ring of Nobel Peace Prize winner and Rockford University alumna Jane Addams. The opening reception is 5-7 p.m. in the gallery inside the university’s Clark Arts Center. The exhibition will be on display through March 11, 2022.

Rockford University’s 175th anniversary celebration will continue throughout 2022 with additional events and activities, including the Rockford University Ramble 5K to be held on Saturday, Oct. 1. Members of the public are encouraged to visit for the latest 175th anniversary events and announcement.



Rockford University is a private four-year, co-educational institution founded in 1847 offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in traditional liberal arts and professional fields. The university offers more than 80 majors, minors, and concentrations, including the bachelor’s degree completion program offering a B.S. in management studies and accounting studies. Through its graduate programs, degrees are extended to include the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and Master of Education in Urban Education, (M.Ed.). Rockford University is home to one of only 11 Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) chapters in Illinois, the most prestigious honor society in the United States. Named by The Princeton Review as a Best Midwestern College and ass a U.S. News & World Report Best Midwest Regional University, Rockford University currently serves approximately 1,250 full-and part-time students.

For more information: Emma Bergstrom, Rockford University, 815.847.0472,