Bridgewater College is an independent, private liberal arts college founded in 1880 and was the first private, coeducational college in Virginia. Founded as Spring Creek Normal School and Collegiate Institute by Daniel Christian Flory, an alumnus of the University of Virginia and a leader in the Church of the Brethren, who wanted to bring the values and benefits of Jefferson’s “Academic Village” to the Shenandoah Valley, the school was named Bridgewater College nine years later and chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia to grant undergraduate degrees. Bridgewater conferred its first bachelor of arts degree on June 1, 1891.
Given its heritage of peace, justice, equality, service and human dignity, the College has consistently promoted these values in an inclusive and caring community focused on developing the whole person-mind, body and spirit.
Today, Bridgewater has a total enrollment of more than 1,900 students, with small class sizes, thus ensuring that the College provides a tightly-knit academic community where faculty, staff and students know each other on an individual basis. Bridgewater’s size allows students more opportunities than they might have at larger schools—more opportunities to participate in sports, theatre, music, clubs and organizations; to exercise leadership; and to develop and achieve their potential in different ways.
Bridgewater College has remained true to its ideals by encouraging freedom of thought, being a pioneer in coeducation and racial integration, growing and developing to meet the changing needs of its students, insisting on high academic standards and educating future leaders in society.