Jul 22, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog (Curriculog Connected) 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog (Curriculog Connected)

Salem College Facts

Date of founding: 1772

Degrees granted: bachelor of art, bachelor of science, master of arts in teaching, master of education, master of music, master of health administration.

Majors offered: biochemistry, biology, business administration, chemistry, communication and media studies, health communication, design, English and writing studies, environmental studies, exercise science, health advocacy and humanitarian systems, health humanities, health sciences, history, integrative studies, mathematics, nonprofit management and community leadership, political science, psychological science, public health, race and ethnicity studies, religious studies, sociology, Spanish, teaching schools and society, visual and performing arts.

Calendar: 4-4
Faculty: 55 full and part-time faculty
Student-faculty ratio: 8:1
Average size of classes: 11 students
Location: Winston-Salem, NC (population approximately 239,000), within historic Old Salem
Size of campus: 47 acres
Size of student body: approximately 500 students

Library facilities:The Dale H. Gramley Library is the main library on Church Street.

Number of residence halls: five, each accommodating from 36 to 128 students; plus Bahnson House, an on-campus house for 16 juniors and seniors.

Geographical distribution of undergraduate students: 62% in-state, 38% out-of-state

Salem College: A History

Salem Academy and College began as a school for young girls in 1772 in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina which had been established just six years earlier by Moravian missionaries. It is the oldest educational institution for both girls and women in the United States. Although no longer a part of the Moravian Church, the history of the school has been an integral part of the town of Salem. Remarkably, the school has always remained in operation even during wars and pandemics.

Today, the Academy and College share a 47-acre campus at its original location in the heart of Old Salem, part of the city of Winston-Salem. During its long history, the institution has developed into Salem Academy, a college preparatory school for girls in grades 9 through 12, and Salem College, a liberal arts school for women, as well as a graduate program, open to men and women.

The school catalogs of the 19th century clearly demonstrate common elements of the school’s philosophy that have remained consistent throughout its history from its earliest days. Early administrators outlined the intention of the faculty to develop girls and young women according to their individual needs. This included an emphasis on physical wellness and exercise, the promotion of high standards for its students and faculty, and attention to the whole student for the development of her character as well as her mind. The school placed its chief emphasis upon the individual pupil. These were the concerns of the early Moravian teachers of the school in the 18th century, and they continue to be the focus of the institution in the 21st century.

From the beginning, the school has been dedicated to female education. At a time when public education did not exist in most areas of the country or the world, even for boys, the Moravians of Salem believed in the importance of educating all members of the church community. As the Moravian Bishop John Amos Commenius declared in the 17th century:

“No reason can be shown why the female sex … should be kept from a knowledge of languages and wisdom. For they are also human beings, an image of God, as we are … in their minds they are equally gifted to acquire wisdom … Why then should we merely dismiss them with the ABC and drive them away from books: Are we afraid of their meddling? The more we introduce them to mental occupations, the less time they will find for meddling, which comes from emptiness of mind.”

Commenius’s words were revolutionary in the 17th century as were the attitudes toward women’s education and work among the Moravians of North America in the 18th century. The Moravians of Europe ordained women preachers and accepted enslaved Africans and free people of African descent as full members of the church in its American and European communities. Rebecca Protten, a Black Moravian preached in Germany and founded a Moravian school in West Africa. In the 18th century, school policy in Salem, in keeping with Moravian beliefs of spiritual equality, allowed enslaved students to attend the school. Unfortunately, later generations of Moravians in North Carolina did not remain true to the church’s earlier beliefs.

By the early 1800s, the town of Salem had segregated its church, its graveyard, and its schools. Salem Female Academy rented enslaved laborers from its neighbors and eventually owned people outright. In the 19th century, Salem Female Academy educated 13 Moravian Cherokee students who came to board at the school, but for almost a century afterwards, Salem was a segregated institution. In the 1960s, however, the school embarked upon a program of integration. Today, Salem Academy and College is one of the most diverse educational institutions in the country.

Salem has been remarkably progressive in its education of girls and women throughout its history. Almost from its founding, Salem has educated women to work in the community. Many of its teachers have been former pupils, and alumnae continue to return to Salem for employment. Although the school was initially opened only for local girls of the Moravian faith, its reputation drew girls from surrounding areas who boarded with Salem families. In 1802, the church decided to begin a boarding school for non-Moravians, and raised funds to build a separate building now known as South Hall. By the late 1800s, the school offered both bachelor’s and master’s degrees to women.

Even in the late 19th century, the school recognized in its catalog “the fact that many pupils will need to earn their own living, and will prefer to do it in offices rather than in the school-room.” Beginning in 1885, the school offered courses in bookkeeping, commercial law, telegraphy, shorthand, and typing. This was at a time when women made up less than 20% of the American labor force.

Salem’s roots go deep much like the oldest trees on campus. The traditions loved by College and Academy alumnae would have been recognized by the students of the late 19th century. For over 100 years the daisy has been the college flower, Academy graduates have worn white at graduation exercises, College seniors have planted a tree to mark their time at Salem, and Academy girls have sung Standing at the Portal to mark the opening of the school year.

Although many traditions have changed over the centuries, many of them which began as practices of students at one or both schools continue to this day. Thus, for example the colors yellow and purple, once used by College women are now the colors of the Academy. Other traditions that began before the creation of separate College and Academy programs continue for both student bodies such as the use of marshals to escort graduates at commencement exercises.

Throughout its history, Salem Academy and College has demonstrated a reverence for the past tempered by the realization that change must come. In each generation, the institution has strived for excellence both to serve its mission and to thrive. Salem has a long history of being at the forefront of education. Examples of its innovation include the music and business programs in the 1800s, being the first North Carolina college to offer a nationally accredited teacher program, the development of the Academy and College Center for Women in Entrepreneurship and Business, the opportunities for Academy students to take college courses years before the first early college programs in North Carolina, and in 2020, the creation of the health leadership initiative for the College.

Across America and around the world, Salem’s more than 15,000 alumnae are serving as teachers, physicians, researchers, artists, musicians, inventors, community volunteers, and business executives. Salem continues to innovate and thrive while educating the next generation of leaders in all fields. And the extraordinary education that Salem provides continues to be grounded in the Moravian tradition of high ideals and respect for all.

In its history, Salem Academy and College has had 23 Inspectors, Principals and Presidents:

Samuel G. Kramsch 1802-1806
Abraham S. Steiner 1806-1816
G. Benjamin Reichel 1816-1834
John C. Jacobson 1834-1844
Charles A. Bleck 1844-1848
Emil A. deSchweinitz 1848-1853
Robert deSchweinitz 1853-1866
Maximilian E. Grunert 1866-1877
Theophilus Zorn 1877-1884
Edward Rondthaler 1884-1888
John H. Clewell 1888-1909
Howard Rondthaler 1909-1949
Dale H. Gramley 1949-1971
John H. Chandler 1971-1976
Merrimon Cuninggim 1976-1979
Richard Leslie Morrill 1979-1982
Thomas Vernon Litzenburg Jr. 1982-1991
Julianne Still Thrift 1991-2006
Susan E. Pauly 2006-2014
D.E. Lorraine Sterritt 2014-2018
Sandra J. Doran 2018-2020
Susan Henking 2020-2021
Summer J. McGee 2021-present

Salem College Statement of Values

Our values are aspirational and interconnected. They are dynamic expressions of our commitments to one another as members of the Salem College community and the larger world as we strive to live them every day.

  • Intellectual Curiosity
    We are fervent about cultivating an environment where a love of learning and thirst for knowledge are the driving forces.
  • Intentional Community
    Community is created when we are purposeful in nurturing connections, collaboration, creativity, care, courage and the regard for each person’s unique contributions. We affirm that the health of the individual and the health of the community are interdependent.
  • Equity and Belonging
    We believe our community is strengthened by the diversity of its members, by our intentional efforts to welcome all who are part of the Salem community, by the sense of belonging that they feel, and by the equitable outcomes of our work.
  • Innovative Spirit
    Our ethos of courage and resilience, exemplified by Salem’s founders, fuels each generation of Salem students and graduates to be change-makers in their own time.
  • Courageous Leadership
    The Salem community provides students with both buoyant support and the challenge to be fiercely courageous. With confidence in our individual and collective strengths, we claim the responsibility to make a meaningful difference in the world around us, each in our own unique ways.
  • Honor and Integrity
    At Salem College, our Honor Code calls us to live, learn, and lead with integrity. To do so is to act with love - embracing the shared stewardship of our community and purposefully demonstrating our convictions to the greater world.

Salem College Mission Statement

Salem College, a women’s college grounded in the liberal arts, values its students as individuals, develops their leadership potential, and prepares them to create healthier and more equitable communities.


Strong are thy walls, oh Salem,
Thy virgin trees stand tall,
And far athwart the sunlit hills,
Their stately shadows fall.

Then sing we of Salem ever,
As proudly her name we bear,
Long may our praise re-echo.
Far may our song ring clear.
Long may our praise re-echo.
Far may our song ring clear.

Firm is thy faith, oh Salem,
thy future service sure.
The beauty of thy heritage,
Forever shall endure.

True is our love, oh Salem,
Thy name we proudly own.
The joy of comradeship is here,
Thy spirit makes us one.

The Honor Tradition

The Honor Tradition is a vital and unifying aspect of the Salem College community that encourages each student to make a commitment to learning grounded in the pursuit of excellence, in community and in responsibility to self and the world. By accepting a place in our community of scholars, each student assumes full responsibility for her actions in all phases of her life at Salem. The Honor Tradition encompasses responsibility for maintaining academic integrity, as well as the expectation that students abide by North Carolina law, uphold College policies and treat all members of the community with civility and respect.

The Honor Tradition is longstanding at Salem College and is highly regarded by students, faculty, staff and the administration. Perpetuating such a tradition is made possible in the community because each individual student is expected to be personally accountable for the impact of her actions on herself and other members of the community.

Every student is responsible for encouraging other students to uphold the Honor Tradition. The Honor Tradition is only as strong as the commitment of the individuals in the community that lives by it.

The Honor Code
Salem College is a community of honor. I will show respect for my community by behaving with honesty, integrity and civility. As a responsibility to my honor community:

  1. I will show respect for my classmates and faculty by maintaining honesty in my academic work and refraining from cheating.
  2. I will show respect for my community and peers by maintaining integrity and honesty in my daily life and refraining from stealing and lying.
  3. I will show respect for faculty, staff, my peers, classmates and members of the administration by maintaining civility and refraining from disruptive and abusive language and behavior.

I acknowledge that I will be held accountable for my decisions and behavior, and I will accept the consequences of my actions. In choosing Salem College, I pledge to uphold the principles of the Honor Code and will cherish and guard its traditions.