Upsala College

The History of Upsala college

Upsala College was a private college located in East Orange, New Jersey, and affiliated with the Swedish American Augustana Synod. In 1893, Upsala was founded in Brooklyn, New York City, and finally to East Orange in 1924. Upsala decided moving to Wantage Township in rural Sussex County in the 70s because of the crime problem in East Orange. College administration and trustees decided to stay committed to East Orange. The school closed in 1995 due to declining enrollment and financial difficulties.
Upsala College was founded at the annual meeting of the Augustana Synod, a Lutheran church body with roots in the Swedish immigrant community. Beck, a Swedish immigrant to the United States, turned down a teaching position at Yale to take the job at Upsala.
The Lutheran Orthodoxy in Sweden was established 300 years before the founding of Upsala College due to the efforts of the King.
Upsala College opened in the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church in Brooklyn. Beck taught 16 students on the first day and by the end of the year, Upsala had 75 students. The student body mostly consisted of immigrants from the Nordic countries. When the New Orange Industrial Association offered the young school fourteen acres of land in 1897, the college moved to Kenilworth, New Jersey. The college granted its first Bachelor of Arts degrees in 1905 to four students. The student body in 1908 consisted of 81 Swedes, 2 Finns, 1 Jew, 1 American, 1 Chinese, 1 Korean and 1 Persian.


The East Orange campus was founded in 1924.

The college moved to East Orange in 1924 after purchasing a 45 acre site in the city the previous year.
The school had a Women’s Tennis Coach after the passage of Title IX.
Over 1,100 competitors took part in the national collegiate speech championship that Upsala hosted in 1989.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, the community’s crime rate increased and student attendance declined.
Upsala’s men basketball team lost to North Park University 83 to 76 in the 1980 NCAA Men’s Division III Basketball Championship.


There is a campus in Wantage.

Upsala sought to expand and acquire a large tract of land in Wantage Township in New Jersey for the construction of a second campus during the tenure of the sixth president.
In the formative years, Upsala did not build any academic buildings on the property. When the school closed down in 1995 and its assets were dissolved, the Wirths family bought back their farm in Wantage.


There was a decline and closing.

The demographic of East Orange had changed in the aftermath of the Newark riots in the 1960s and Upsala began to enroll larger numbers of minority students. East Orange’s tax base and socio economic conditions deteriorated with an increase in crime statistics which made the college unattractive for prospective students. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools announced that it wouldn’t be renewing the Ups because of the decline in academic standards and the school’s ongoing financial problems. On May 1, 1995, the college’s board of trustees voted to close the school when its accreditation expired on May 31, 1995.

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