History of Wilkes
We’re excited about our future, with promising students like you joining dedicated faculty and staff to write the next pages in the Wilkes University story. We’re also proud of our history, building on the past to encourage continued success.
Through the Years
Bucknell University opens the doors to its junior college in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
First issue of The Beacon is published.
Bucknell University Junior College becomes Wilkes College, an independent, nondenominational, four-year college. Eugene S. Farley serves as the first president.
The college adopts “Colonels” as its athletic nickname.
Stark Hall opens then expands in 1964 and again in 1975.
Wilkes dedicates the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts.
Ralston Field hosts its first athletic contest.
The Farley Library, named in honor of President Eugene S. Farley, opens its doors.
Francis Michelini becomes the second president.
Colonels pull together to help the college and the community weather the Agnes Flood.
Wilkes establishes the Sordoni Art Gallery.
Robert Capin ’50 becomes the third president.
Max Rosenn Lecture Series in Law and Humanities is established.
Students begin moving into the new Evans Hall.
Christopher Breiseth becomes the fourth president.
Burns Bell Tower is dedicated.
Arnaud C. Marts Center welcomes its first athletes.
Wilkes College gains academic prominence and transforms into Wilkes University.
The University opens the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, serving campus and the community.
The John Wilkes statue begins its watch over campus, and Breiseth Hall, then known as the Classroom Office Building (COB), opens its doors.
The University establishes the School of Pharmacy, which became the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy three years late.
A new student center, later named for Frank and Dorothea Henry, opens.
Joseph “Tim” Gilmour becomes the fifth president.
Wilkes launches the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership.
The first students begin the low-residency creative writing master’s program.
Wilkes begins the Doctor of Education program.
Wilkes launches the online Doctor of Nursing Practice program.
Patrick F. Leahy becomes the sixth president.
The state-of-the-art Lawrence and Sally Cohen Science Center opens.
The University celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Sidhu School of Business and Leadership with the dedication of its new home at the University Center on Main.
Wilkes creates the Passan School of Nursing.
The University dedicates the Karambelas East Campus Gateway, complemented by the South Campus Gateway three years later.
Wilkes dedicates the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing.
Wilkes dedicates the new Karambelas Media and Communication Center.
The Sordoni Art Gallery unveils its new, more accessible space on South Main Street with an exhibit of works by Andy Warhol.
Passan School of Nursing launches the University’s first Ph.D. program.
The cutting-edge Mark Engineering Center opens to provide high-tech equipment and laboratory space.
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education categorizes Wilkes as a doctoral university, reflecting an increased focus on research and scholarship.
Paul S. Adams ’77 serves the University as interim president.
The University dedicates Bruggeworth Field at the Ralston Athletic Complex.
The University goes virtual, hybrid, masked and socially distant as Colonels combat COVID.
Greg Cant becomes the seventh president.