Ripon College (Wisconsin)

Ripon College
Type Private liberal arts college
Established 1851
Affiliation non-sectarian, non-denominational[1]
Endowment $85 million[2]
President Zach P. Messitte
Students Approximately 840 undergraduate
Location Ripon, Wisconsin, USA
Campus Small Town Urban, 250 Acres
Athletics 35% of students on varsity teams
Mascot Rally[3]

Ripon College is a liberal arts college in Ripon, Wisconsin, USA. As of 2015, Ripon College's student body stood at around 840,[4] the majority of whom live on campus. Students come from 14 nations and 33 states, and 53% are female while 47% are male. More than 95% of students receive financial aid.[5]


According to the Washington Monthly College Rankings, Ripon is #18 among national liberal arts colleges, and is #3 in the "best bang for the buck" category in the Midwest.[6] According to US News and World Report, Ripon ranks #113 among national liberal arts colleges, and #29 among the "best value schools." [7]


Smith Hall

Ripon College was founded in 1851, although its first class of students did not enroll until 1853. Ripon's first class, four women, graduated in June, 1867.

The college was founded with ties to local churches, but early in its history the institution became secular. In 1868 formal ties with Presbyterian and Congregational churches were cut, but Ripon would retain some ties to its religious past. During the nineteenth century students were required to attend two church services each Sunday. The first six presidents of Ripon College had clerical backgrounds, as did the previous president, David Joyce. Today the school offers classes in world religions, but there are no required religious courses, and students are not required to attend religious services.

The college recognized social and academic Greek letter societies in 1924. The Ripon Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was started by Clark Kuebler, who served as president from 1944 to 1955.

The National Forensic League, which is still located in Ripon, Wisconsin, was founded at the college in 1925. Since that time communication has been important at the college, which today organizes its endeavors as part of a Communication Consortium that provides real-world experience to students, such as managing the campus newspaper, mentoring people within the broader community about communication, and participating in forensics. [8]


Harwood Memorial Union

The approach to academics at Ripon College is for every student to complete a major, and instead of generals students take five Catalyst courses that focus on solving real-world problems. After completing the Catalyst, students receive a certificate in Applied Innovation. This certificate is similar to a minor at other schools, and it demonstrates that the student has acquired the ability to think in innovative ways about complex problems. Ripon College also provides a four-year graduation guarantee to all students who remain in good academic standing, declare a major course of study by the end of sophomore year, and follow an approved course plan.

Ripon has a student-to-faculty ratio of 11.5:1, which results in small classes. The student satisfaction rate of 95 percent and a placement rate of 96 percent within six months of graduation.[9]

The College is on the semester system and has two optional three-week summer sessions known as Liberal Arts In Focus. These In Focus programs include both on-campus offerings as well as travel courses to Italy, England, and elsewhere.[10] Students may choose from 32 majors, a variety of pre-professional advising options and also opt to self-design a major. Off-campus study is highly encouraged; nearly one-third of all Ripon College students elect to spend a semester off-campus on a focused area of study.[11]

Lane Library

Each incoming student is assigned a faculty mentor based on their area of interest. Together, faculty mentors and staff in the Office of Career Development work with students throughout their time on campus to help set goals and construct a course plan to reach those goals.

Ripon is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), a grouping of private liberal arts schools that share expertise and collaborate on off-campus study programs. The College is also affiliated with the Annapolis Group of private liberal arts colleges and is a member of the Council of Independent Colleges. [12]

Center for Social Responsibility

Ripon College Peace Pole

The Center for Social Responsibility [13] was established at Ripon College in spring 2013. The center combined the best of existing programming to formalize the curricular role of community engagement, service learning, social entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary studies in leadership curriculum. In addition to overseeing a variety of service trips, workshops, real world internships, volunteer and business consulting opportunities, the center facilitates a minor in socially responsible leadership. This minor comes with two emphases: social entrepreneurship and innovation, and community engagement and service learning.

Center for Politics and the People

Todd Wehr Hall

The Center for Politics and the People [13] at Ripon College was established in spring 2014. A lead gift to fund start-up costs for the center has been donated by Ripon College Trustee William MacLeod ’73, partner at Kelley Drye & Warren law firm and a former bureau director at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The Center for Politics and the People at Ripon College sponsors scholarship and hosts special events, featuring elected officials and policy makers, high-level campaign operatives, academic experts, journalists, prognosticators and citizens representing a broad spectrum of political views. The center also manages the College's annual Career Discovery Tour to Washington, D.C., and helps to place students in internships.

Badger Boys State

Since 1941 the College has also served as the host site for Badger Boys State, a public affairs program for more than 800 Wisconsin high school students to learn about the civic process. Such students establish and run a mock government.


The college's C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts houses the Departments of Art, Music, and Theater.

Visual art

The Art Department manages two gallery spaces, one of which is dedicated to student work and the other to art more broadly. Work by students and professional artists is also shown across campus. A sculpture garden is located adjacent to the building. Two art works of note in the permanent collection of the college are life-size portraits by Anthony van Dyck of Princess Amalia of the House of Orange and Sir Roger Townshend. The Classics department also manages a collection of classical Greek and Roman artifacts, many of which are displayed in the campus library.


The college has a vibrant music department that offers classes, lessons, and ensembles. Students of any major may participate in the music department and are eligible for music scholarships. The department offers the following ensembles: orchestra, symphonic wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, and two choirs (Chamber Singers and Choral Union).[14] All musical performances by campus groups are free to students and the public. The program also hosts visiting musicians each semester, and performances are free to all students.


The college's theater program produces three productions per year, with students from any major encouraged to act or be involved with set, costume, and makeup design. Each theater major directs a one-act production their senior year, as part of a campus theater festival. Students regularly participate in the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. All theatrical events are free to students and the public.

Sustainability and the environment

Ripon College attempts to be a sustainable institution. It has a fleet of campus hybrid vehicles, a recycling program, and uses energy efficient light bulbs.

The college has a prairie nature reserve that is used for biology, environmental studies, and other classes. It tries to maintain a healthy population of bees in the area, by including them in the prairie area. There are also trails for walking and snowshoeing throughout this area, which connects to a municipally run nature park, the South Woods. A student group, EGOR: The Environmental Group of Ripon, focuses on awareness of these issues. Students can also major in environmental studies, which is an interdisciplinary program.[15]


Student life


There are over 70 student clubs on campus, ranging from fraternities and sororities to special interest groups (focuses include the environment, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.) to academics (art, anthropology, physics, sociology, music, theater, mathematics, and others) to service groups (Amnesty, animal welfare, etc.) to politics (Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens).[16]

Greek life

The college has seven residential dormitories with several sororities, including Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Chi Omega, and Kappa Delta. The college has four all-male fraternities including chapters of Sigma Chi, Theta Chi, Phi Delta Theta, and a local fraternity, Phi Kappa Pi, (named Merriman for the college's founding president). Ripon College also has one local co-ed fraternity, Theta Sigma Tau, founded in 1910, the oldest local fraternity on campus. It became co-ed in 1980 after severing ties with Sigma Nu fraternity. Students in all five fraternities live in dormitories on campus, following the recent removal of Phi Kappa Pi from Merriman House. Phi Kappa Pi was relocated to the Quad living area, with the other three fraternities, after the Merriman house was condemned and the board of Trustees determined that all students (unless exempted) should reside in residence halls.[17]


People of color compose 10% of the student population.[18] The McNair Scholars program supports first generation college students and African American, Native American, and Hispanic students who wish to attend graduate school.[19] An office of Multicultural and International Student Affairs serves students of color, international students, and gay and lesbian students through mentoring and programming.[20] Student groups that focus on the experiences of racially diverse, culturally diverse, and LGBT students are also active on campus.[21]


Main article: Ripon Red Hawks
Ripon College football helmet

Ripon athletics teams participate in NCAA Division III as part of the Midwest Conference. Conference competition for men includes: cross-country, football, soccer (fall), basketball (winter), swimming (winter), indoor and outdoor track, baseball, golf, and tennis (spring). Conference competition for women includes: cross-country, golf, soccer, tennis, volleyball (fall), basketball (winter), swimming (winter), indoor and outdoor track, and softball (spring). The Ripon Red Hawks Cycling Team competes at the Division II level in the Midwestern Collegiate Cycling Conference (MWCCC), governed by USA Cycling.

Campus facilities

Education buildings and offices

The Ripon College Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Smith Hall
East Hall

Residence halls


The main dining hall includes a wide range of options at each meal, including traditional American fare, foreign cuisines, and vegetarian/vegan options. A coffee shop on campus brews Starbucks coffee and makes specialty drinks to order. The Ripon Pub serves snacks, sandwiches, fast food, and bottled beverages. The Terrace, located inside Bovay (one of the residence halls), is open evenings and serves subs, pizza, snacks, and drinks.[22]


The school's volunteerism and community service earned it a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2009.[23] In 2009, Forbes ranked Ripon 100th on the list of America's 600 best colleges.[24] The school earned an award from The Chronicle of Higher Education as being one of the "Great Colleges to Work For" in the nation, an award given to institutions that are well-managed and where faculty and staff being enthusiastic about their jobs.[25]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty


  1. "Mission - Ripon College". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  2. As of July, 2015. "Ian Stepleton, "Major Changes," Ripon Commonwealth, July 15, 2015".
  4. "How Does Ripon College Rank Among America's Best Colleges?". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  5. "Ripon College: Welcome - Facts & Figures". 9 July 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  6. Washington Monthly 2016 College Rankings,
  7. US News and World Report rankings, 2016,
  8. "Ripon Communication Consortium - Ripon College". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  9. "About - Ripon College". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  10. "Academics - Ripon College". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  11. College : College : Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 2012-05-15. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. "The Council of Independent Colleges". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  13. 1 2 "Ripon College Launches New Center for Social Responsibility, Academic Programming - Ripon College". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  14. "Ripon College : Clubs & Organizations". Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  15. "Campus Sustainability - Ripon College". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  17. "Phi Kappa Pi fraternity alumni club sues Ripon College". Fox News. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
  18. "About Ripon College : Fast Facts". Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  19. "Ripon College : McNair Program". Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  20. "Ripon College: Multicultural & International Student Affairs". Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  21. "Ripon College: Clubs & Organizations". Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  22. "Ripon College: Food Service". Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  23. "Welcome to Corporation for National and Community Service" (PDF). Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  24. "America's Best Colleges". Forbes. August 5, 2009.
  25. "Great Colleges to Work For". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  26. Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.

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