In 1946, the Congregation of Holy Cross accepted the invitation of Bishop William J. Hafey of Scranton to begin an independent four-year college for men in Wilkes-Barre. Through its courses of study, sons of coal miners and men returning from the war were to be given a broad-based liberal education in the Catholic tradition that provided intellectual, moral, and spiritual preparation to assist them in leading satisfying and purposeful lives. As years passed and the College flourished, the mission expanded admission to women and continues to educate countless numbers of first-generation college students of all faiths. With an ever-expanding campus, King's College now offers 41 undergraduate programs, 9 graduate programs, 29 varsity athletic programs, and over 50 student clubs and activities.
For seven decades, King’s has made a difference in the lives of students, neighboring communities, and beyond. Sifting through collected references and accounts, the timeline below celebrates the growth of King’s College from its humble beginnings. Please be sure to also reference our History Flickr Album, which features corresponding archival photos used to create this timeline.
- Dec. 1945: Rev. James Connerton, C.S.C.—previously the registrar at the University of Notre Dame—is given a $200 train ticket and a typewriter with the commission from Rev. William J. Hafey, Bishop of Scranton, to start a Catholic college in the anthracite coal region. He arrives in Wilkes-Barre and resides at the rectory of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church, located on South Washington Street.
- Feb. 1946: Father Connerton and Attorney Frank Pinola travel to Harrisburg to petition the State Council of Education to begin the legal process of admitting students.
- Mar. 1946: Ann Pendergrast is hired as a secretary and becomes the first employee of King’s College. Ann and President Connerton work from a former tailor’s shop on Main Street near where downtown’s Midtown Village stands today.
- May 1946: The Pennsylvania State Council on Education charters King’s College as a new institution.
- Sep. 1946: Classes begin for the first semester in the College’s Main Building at 29 Northampton Street. Nearly 500 students applied and 380 were accepted with 90% of the class comprised of WWII veterans. In addition to the main classroom building, the College owned a house at 63 North River Street that housed the clerical faculty.
- Oct. 1946: The first issue of The Crown, the student newspaper, is published.
- Jan. 1947: Father Scandlon and Father Connerton obtain war surplus furniture, equipment, and textbooks for student use and secure government funding to build a gymnasium at Vaughn’s Corners in Kingston and a student union on a former parking lot.
- May 1947: The first annual Coronation Ball is held, bringing together “the Kingsmen” and “the ladies from College Misericordia” at Irem Temple Country Club.
- Oct. 1948: The original Alma Mater—written by Thomas Donlin and set to the music of “Now is the Hour”—is introduced to the College in this issue of The Crown.
Hail our Alma Mater,
To thee our voices raise.
Sing a song of glory,
Join to sing thy praise.
We are loyal Kingsmen,
Friends and warriors bold,
We will always cherish mem’-ries.
Hail the Red and Gold
- Nov. 1948: Latin for “the king,” The Regis is chosen as the name of the yearbook.
- Dec. 1948: Construction of the new gymnasium is finished. Bishop Hafey blesses the space on December 3, 1948.
- Jul. 1949: Rev. John J. Lane, C.S.C., is appointed as the second president of King’s College.
- Aug. 1949: The Radio Club is founded by Rev. Henry E. Malone, C.S.C., and Mr. John Stenger Jr. at the WBAX radio station. The club’s first program was “Christ, King of All Hearts,” which was produced on the Feast of Christ the King in conjunction with the dedication of the new Student Union Building. The club also produced Stephen Vincent Benet’s Christmas play “A Child is Born” and “These Are Your Neighbors,” a play written by student William Smith.
- Aug. 1949: A literary magazine is formed by Bruce Kunkle, instructor of journalism. When a name could not be agreed upon, it was suggested to name it after medieval ballad singers and storytellers. And so, the publication became The SCOP. Collapse decade
- Feb. 1950: After several years without one, King’s purchases its first dormitory facility—Holy Cross Hall—located at 47 North River Street.
- Mar. 1950: Father Henry Malone is encouraged to form the “Little Theatre Group” by Academic Dean George DePrizio, a devotee to the fine arts. After some preparation, they present three one-act plays: Minor Miracle by Verne Powers; The Rising of the Moon by Lady Gregory; and The Still Alarm by George Kaufman.
- May 1950: As the first-ever class of King’s College students prepare for commencement, the Alumni Association is formed.
- Jun. 1950: The inaugural graduating class includes 255 students. The ceremony takes place at the Irem Temple on North Franklin Street.
- Sep. 1950: Rev. Leo F. Flood, C.S.C., is appointed the third president of King’s College.
- Jan. 1951: With the Little Theatre Group’s success, actors absorb the defunct Radio Club and create The King’s Players. After a couple plays and one-acts, they present William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in March. The production was the beginning of an annual tradition, continued today, of presenting Shakespeare’s work with both student and faculty actors.
- Oct. 1951: Three hundred King’s students sign the “Freedom Scroll” and contributed to the purchase of the Freedom Bell, a gift to the city of Berlin from the United States as a symbol of anti-communism.
- Sep. 1952: King’s acquires the Lehigh Valley Coal Company Building on North River Street and officially moves into what is now known as the Administration Building. All educational facilities are moved here, except science. The former Main Building on Northampton Street is now known as the Science Building. A year after purchase, classes are held in the building, which houses administration offices, eighteen classrooms, accounting and engineering labs, the chapel, and the library, which used the entire fourth floor.
- Jun. 1953: King’s College acquires Marion Apartments and continues operating the building as a dormitory. Today, this building is known as Hafey-Marian Hall.
- Jul. 1956: Rev. George P. Benaglia, C.S.C.—the founding president of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts—is appointed the fourth president of King’s College.
- Sep. 1956: King’s students steal Scranton University’s mascot, Eleanor the goat, in true Animal House fashion. Eleanor was returned safely at half-time.
- Nov. 1956: Commissioned by Father Flood and financed by alumni, the 24-foot “Christ the King” statue is installed on top of the Administration Building. The statue was designed by Adolph Ell of the King’s College Art Department and sculpted by Lawrence Russo, an Italian native who lived in Kingston.
- Oct. 1956: C. Edgar Patience, a local artist, is commissioned by the Corgan and O’Toole families to sculpt an altar from a single block of anthracite coal weighing 4,200 pounds. The altar first resided in the Administration Building chapel but was later housed in a special room at the Old Chapel of Christ the King for many years. Now, it serves as the altar for masses in the new Chapel of Christ the King on North Street.
- Dec. 1956: King’s College receives accreditation by Middle Sates Commission on Higher Education.
- Sep. 1958: Ground is broken on an $800,000 ($8 mil. in 2022) extension to the Administration Building. The four-fold program will include a new addition for science programs; an expansion to the library and cafeteria; additional classrooms; and a new auditorium. Collapse decade
- Sep. 1961: The Chemistry Program is accredited by the American Chemical Society.
- Aug. 1962: Gamma Sigma chapter of Delta Epsilon Sigma—a national honor society for Catholic scholars—is chartered. Drs. Alexander, Boyle, and Long are the advisors. King’s College expands student housing to the fifth and sixth floors of the Hotel Sterling.
- Jul. 1964: Rev. Lane D. Kilburn, C.S.C., is appointed the fifth president of King’s College. His inauguration is held on October 31, 1964, at the Irem Temple with 1,500 guests in attendance.
- Mar. 1965: Ground is broken on a new twelve-story dormitory—also carrying the name Holy Cross Hall—that will house 400 students. It is dedicated the following year on September 6.
- Aug. 1968: Dr. Lou Rader of the English Department creates the Honors Program and serves as the director.
- Sep. 1968: Although King’s College was not yet co-ed, nurses from the Mercy and Pittston Hospitals take biology and chemistry classes as clinical training expands from the operating room to the classroom.
- Dec. 1968: The brand new, $2.2 million ($17.9 mil in 2022) gymnasium on North Main Street is dedicated as Scandlon Gymnasium. It features a competitive swimming pool, rifle range, hand-ball courts, and seating for 3,600 spectators. Two days after the dedication, the basketball team faced off against Notre Dame in a special inaugural game.
- Nov. 1969: As part of the College’s four-fold expansion program, the Corgan Library finally opens its doors to eager students, staff, and faculty. Another dormitory—East Hall—is slated for construction.
- Dec. 1969: The radio station WRKC is established with notable regular broadcasts “The Best of Broadway” and “The U.N. Radio Magazine.” Regis writers described the station’s music as “pop music, not rock, and is a relaxing, ‘easy listening’ sort of sound.” Students complained that the radio station did not play the Top 40s and that broadcast time was limited to six hours each night and twelve hours on weekends. Collapse decade
- May 1970: King’s participates in the City of Wilkes-Barre’s first annual Cherry Blossom Festival and River Regatta; King’s came in third.
- Aug. 1970: King’s College opens enrollment to women, following the trend of many institutions across the country. Nancy Fairchild is the first woman to register. The Crown wrote, “What youths desire in today’s changing affairs is an opportunity to know the opposite sex and to know it in a personal and human manner. No longer does the conception exist that members of the opposite sex are for dating purposes only.”
- Sep. 1970: With 117 women matriculated into the College, the sixth floor of East Hall becomes home to co-eds. It would be eight years later when East Hall is fully converted to a women’s dormitory.
- Jan. 1971: The new Thomas A. Sheehy Student Center is dedicated and hosts art and photography exhibitions, guest speakers, bi-weekly coffee houses, and jam sessions. The goal of the building was to help foster communication between the student body and college administration.
- Sep. 1971: King’s College celebrates its 25th anniversary with a ball and concert. “The Spirit of Man” statue—which today resides outside the old Chapel of Christ the King—is given as an anniversary gift from the University of Notre Dame.
- Jun. 1972: Flooding from Tropical Storm Agnes devastates the Wyoming Valley. Every building at King’s sustains some damage, and the homes of many students and employees are destroyed. Thousands of books in the Corgan Library are ruined, as is the hardwood floor in the gym. The basements of Holy Cross Hall, Hafey-Marian Hall, Administration, and the Science Building fill completely with flood water. The community pulls together in a massive effort to move forward.
- Dec. 1973: Police are called to put a stop to an overzealous snowball battle among King’s students.
- Mar. 1974: King’s co-eds are caught streaking across campus to raise money for St. Stanislaus Medical Care Center. The unclothed students ran from the girls’ dormitory, East Hall, down Lane’s Lane to Holy Cross Hall and back.
- Jul. 1974: Rev. Charles D. Sherrer, C.S.C., is appointed the sixth president of King’s College. Father Sherrer is the first president to participate in a formal search under the Board of Directors.
- Aug. 1975: The physician assistant program is established.
- Aug. 1976: WRKC expands to broadcast for 19 hours each weekday and 24 hours each weekend boasting the “unofficial longest broadcasting time of any college radio station in the state.”
- Aug. 1978: King’s moves to Division III and joins the Mid Atlantic Conference. The annual Moreau Lecture Series is launched as a visiting scholar program. Saul Padover, an expert on Thomas Jefferson, is the first speaker.
- Aug. 1979: Luksic Hall, another new and highly needed on-campus dormitory, is dedicated. Collapse decade
- Dec. 1980: The Leo the Lion statue is a gift of the Class of 1950 and placed along Paul’s Path.
- Jul. 1981: Rev. James Lackenmier, C.S.C., is appointed the seventh president of King’s College.
- Dec. 1981: Local attorney John Hessel wills his building to King’s. It is renamed Hessel Hall in his honor and houses the rapidly expanding Admissions and Financial Aid offices.
- May 1982: Renovation begins on Hafey-Marian Hall, gutting everything except the basement. The project was completed by the end of the year.
- Jan. 1983:The SCOP publishes its “final” issue due to budget cuts. The Regis writer posits that the magazine will continue as a supplement to The Crown.
- Aug. 1984: New majors are added, including human resources management, finance, and international business.
- Jul. 1985: King’s becomes a dry campus to counter problems with underage drinking. In alignment with the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act, the new policy prohibits underage students from keeping alcohol in their room and carrying open bottles and cans throughout campus.
- Apr. 1986: The first Honors Convocation is held.
- Aug. 1986: A faculty parking lot is converted into Holy Cross Court and serves as campus park and meeting place for students to socialize between Hafey-Marian, Holy Cross Hall, and the Library. The “Spes Unica”—cross and anchors—statue is added. Rowhouses on East Jackson Street, many rented by students, are torn down behind the Margarida Apartment Building (now Alumni Hall) to create much needed campus parking.
- Mar. 1988: Construction begins on Leo F. Flood Hall, a new dormitory that opened to students for the fall semester.
- Sep. 1989: “The American Song” statue is gifted to the College by James Burke, Class of 1950. The statue, which currently resides outside Esseff Hall, is dedicated to Bronis Voveris, the director of the King’s College Glee Club from 1947-1977. Collapse decade
- Oct. 1990: After ending in 1963, football returns as a sport at the College.
- Aug. 1991: King’s offers its first master’s degrees in finance, reading, and health care administration.
- Apr. 1992: The four-story William G. McGowan School of Business building is added to campus and dedicated in the Spring of 1992.
- Aug. 1992: Now known as Betzler Fields, Monarch Fields is dedicated and houses facilities for football, softball, field hockey, and soccer.
- Sep. 1994: With the growth of science students and more degree offerings, the new Charles E. and Mary Parente Life Sciences Center is added to campus. The women’s dormitory, formerly known as East Hall, is renamed “Esseff Hall” in honor of the memory of the grandfather and daughter of alumnus George J. Esseff.
- Jan. 1996: King’s is selected as one of America’s best colleges by U.S. News and World Report, Money Magazine, and Barron’s Best Buys. It continues to be featured on these lists today.
- Feb. 1996: On a trip to Pennsylvania to see recovery efforts from the January 1996 flood, President Bill Clinton visits King’s College and speaks in the Scandlon Gym.
- Jul. 1999: Father Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., is appointed the eighth president of King’s College. His inauguration is held in the Scandlon Gymnasium on October 1, 1999.
- Aug. 1999: The College introduces CitySERVE to the orientation process for incoming first-year students. The required service component for all new students continues with the same program today.
- Sep. 1999: With the growing popularity of a small coffeehouse program, the Hispanic Room is converted into Connerton’s Café in the basement of the Student Center. Collapse decade
- Aug. 2000: On North Franklin Street, the Sherrer House becomes the new location for the Office of Volunteer Services and then The Shoval Center in 2005.
- Aug. 2001: Following in the footsteps of The Men in Red and Les Chanteuse, the Cantores Christi Regis choir is formed as a co-ed ensemble that sings at formal campus events and two annual concerts.
- Nov. 2001: The newly renovated and expanded Student Center is dedicated and renamed Sheehy-Farmer Campus Center.
- Jul. 2002: The renovation begins on transforming the Margarida Apartments into a new, co-ed dormitory renamed Alumni Hall.
- Sep. 2003: King’s participates in Pennsylvania’s Miles of Mules public art project. The College’s “Hope” Mule took students 163 hours to create and was unveiled in May 2004 at the Fine Arts Fiesta on Public Square. Today, “Hope” resides at the Widmann Art Gallery in the Campus Center.
- Oct. 2003: Knitting together a downtown campus, a block of North Franklin Street is closed to create green space known as Monarch Court. Nearby, the Clock Tower is added to Holy Cross Court, and the waterfall feature is added to Regina Court.
- Jan. 2004: The William G. McGowan School of Business earns Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation. Today, less than 5% of business schools hold this recognition.
- Aug. 2006: King’s joins Wilkes University in moving their campus bookstores to the Barnes & Noble on Public Square. In 2021, it will move back to campus in the former S&W Restaurant.
- Oct. 2009: A new, four-story building opens—later called O’Hara Hall after the College’s eighth president, Father O’Hara—and includes the Hildebrandt Learning Center, faculty offices, classrooms, and three floors of apartment housing.
- Dec. 2009: King’s is placed on the President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll—the highest federal recognition an institution can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement—with the average King’s student completing about 50 hours of service each year. Collapse decade
- Jul. 2011: Father John J. Ryan, C.S.C., is appointed the ninth president of King’s College.
- Aug. 2011: Saint André Bessette—known as a healer for his devotion to the sick and afflicted—becomes the first Holy Cross Congregation member to attain sainthood. The College’s Student Health Center, André Hall, is named in his honor.
- Sep. 2011: King’s is reminded of the historic 1972 Agnes flood when Hurricane Sandy causes a campus evacuation. The levees hold, but King’s students participate in the King’s Flood Relief Project helping residents clean up their homes, raising money and goods for the Shoval Center, and collecting books for the West Pittston Library.
- Mar. 2015: King’s redesigns its identity graphics with an updated mission mark and athletics logo to reflect the traditional academic values of the institution while strengthening the College’s brand identity.
- Aug. 2015: Renovations of the former Ramada Hotel on Public Square are finished. Now known as the Abbas Alley Center, the building houses health science programs; the Anthracite Miners and Their Hallowed Ground gallery by local artist Sue Hand; and a permanent outdoor exhibit honoring Wilkes-Barre’s anthracite heritage. The original glockenspiel above the building’s entrance was also restored and features two figurines: Leo the Lion and Mr. Peanut, a nod to Planters Peanut Company’s Wilkes-Barre roots.
- Feb. 2016: King’s College announces the addition of NCAA Division III men’s and women’s ice hockey to debut in the 2017-18 academic year. The College also adds varsity programs in men’s volleyball and women’s golf for the 2019-20 academic year to grow the department to 27 varsity programs.
- May 2017: Coach Ned McGinley retires after 48 years as the King’s wrestling coach. He was the longest-tenured head coach at all levels of NCAA wrestling.
- Jul. 2017: Joseph Balz, Class of 1950, passes away. Mr. Balz dedicated 70 years of his life to King’s College as a student, alumni, chief financial officer, and advisor to the president.
- Aug. 2017: King’s sees its largest incoming first-year class with 624 students enrolled.
- Aug. 2019: King’s continues its downtown improvements by renovating the Spring Brook Water Supply Co. building on North Franklin Street for the rapidly growing Engineering Department. The new Mulligan Center for Engineering opened for the Fall 2019 semester.
- Sep. 2019: The new Christ the King Chapel on North Street is dedicated. The former First Presbyterian Church was completely restored to house campus ministries with a new annex—the Maffei Family Commons—that serves as community space and graduate admission offices.
- Nov. 2019: The maple tree known by decades of King’s students as “The Tree of Life,” is cut down due to safety concerns. The Parable of the Mustard Seed was recited at a small farewell prayer ceremony. Collapse decade
- Mar. 2020: Following in the steps of others nationwide, King’s moves all classes to virtual learning in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Aug. 2020: King’s makes every effort to bring students back to campus safely. With minor adjustments and robust COVID-19 protocols, the College is very successful reintroducing in-person learning.
- Jul. 2021: Rev. Thomas P. Looney, C.S.C., is appointed the tenth president of King’s College.
- Oct. 2021: First-year female kickers Delaney Hilferty and Alyssa Accordino became just the fifth and sixth women in NCAA history to play and score in an NCAA football game. They were featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on their “Inspiring America” segment as well as several local media outlets.
- Dec. 2021: King’s announces plans to convert the former Times Leader building on North Main Street into a new facility for health sciences, continuing a strong record of downtown revitalization. Collapse decade
The History of King’s College Timeline was created by a dedicated group of faculty and staff who devoted many hours to research, writing, fact checking, and editing.
- Jamie Costello, Library, Circulation Supervisor
- Brandi George Davis, Director of College Marketing & Communications
- Thomas Mackman, Associate Professor of History
- Jennifer McClinton-Temple, Professor of English
- Ryan Rosenthal, Web Systems Manager
- David Schappert, Director of the Library
- Marianne Sodoski, Reference Librarian