DeSales University is a private Catholic university in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. The university offers traditional, online, and hybrid courses and programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Named for St. Francis de Sales, the university was founded in 1964 as « Allentown College of Saint Francis de Sales » by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
On February 11, 1961, Joseph McShea was appointed Bishop of the Allentown Diocese by Pope John XXIII. One of the first actions of Bishop McShea was to make a study of the educational facilities, which called attention to the fact that there was no Catholic college in the Diocese. At the request of the Bishop, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales agreed to assume the responsibility for establishing a liberal arts college to serve this need.
Planning for the new college began in April 1962, and the charter for Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, with full power to award the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, was granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on May 27, 1964. Classes began for freshmen in September 1965. Allentown College was fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools during the 1969-1970 academic year. In September 1970, the College became a co-educational institution. ACCESS, the College’s continuing education department, was established in the fall of 1977. In the spring of 1988, the College opened the Easton campus, an extension of its ACCESS evening degree program.
The College’s course offerings continued to grow. A Master of Science in Nursing degree was introduced in 1984; the Master of Science in Management Information Systems in September 1988; and an M.Ed. program in the summer of 1989. In August 1991, the College began its MBA program which has now grown to be the second largest MBA program in the state of Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1998, the College became the first Catholic College in the country to offer a major in marriage and family studies.
On March 1, 2000, Allentown College received official notification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that its application for university status had been approved. In addition, the department approved the use of the name « DeSales University »; (DSU). The College’s Board of Trustees voted in favor of these changes on April 13, 2000. The name and status changes, effective January 1, 2001, were made in recognition of the institution’s academic excellence, faculty commitment, Catholic heritage and continued growth in graduate education.
Rev. James J. Greenfield, OSFS, took over as the University’s fourth president on January 1, 2018.