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William W. Birdsall


William W. Birdsall, fifth president serving between 1898 and 1902

At the Board’s behest, William W. Birdsall (1854–1909) succeeded in attracting more attention to the College from the Quaker community and increased the enrollment of Quaker students. He also increased the number of students by offering more scholarships. But critics among alumni, faculty, and students thought that these changes came at the expense of academic quality and that more attention should be placed there than on the school’s denominational affiliation.

Under Birdsall, the College made capital improvements, readjusted the teaching staff, and introduced a premedical course in 1900. But after the Board decided the College needed a president with a stronger intellectual focus, Birdsall resigned to become principal of Girls’ High School of Philadelphia.