Looking Back at Geneva’s Presidents - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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September 5, 2016

Looking Back at Geneva’s Presidents

As Geneva College prepares for the inauguration of its twentieth president this month, we look back on the leaders who helped shape its 168-year history of providing Christ-centered, academically excellent education. Geneva was founded in Northwood, Ohio on Thursday, April 20, 1848. Over the course of the Geneva’s history, the Lord blessed it with presidents who maintained its Reformed Christian heritage and commitment to leadership in Christian higher education for all people.

Some presidential points of interest include:

  • Reverend John Black Johnston was the pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Miami, Ohio. He began a Latin class in the study of his home. Enrollment quickly grew and it had to move to the church and then to a log school. The Lakes Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church authorized Johnston to build a college. Within five months, he had built a five-room brick building, opened Geneva College and became its first President.
  • The third President, Dr. James Renwick Willson Sloane, earned a national reputation as an anti-slavery advocate.
  • The youngest person to lead Geneva was Reverend Dr. John Calvin Knox Milligan, who was only 19 years old when he joined the faculty and 27 when he became the fourth president.
  • The first president to be a graduate of Geneva was the eighth, Reverend Henry Hosick George; the college moved to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, during his tenure.
  • The tenth president, Reverend Dr. William Henry George, later joined the Ambulance Corps in France and Italy, where he received the Italian War Cross for bravery under fire.
  • Thirteenth president Dr. McLeod Milligan Pearce served during Geneva’s centennial; during his tenure Reeves Field and McCartney Library were built, Science Hall was enlarged, and Fern Cliffe and Alumni Hall were purchased.
  • Dr. Charles Marston Lee, fourteenth president, was the first non-clergyman to serve as president.
  • Under fifteenth president Dr. Edwin Cameron Clarke the college experienced tremendous physical expansion and adopted the “Foundational Concepts of Christian Education.”
  • Before coming to Geneva, seventeenth president Dr. William Joseph McFarland was Director of Academic Affairs for the Kansas Board of Regents, responsible for planning and oversight for the state’s system of education.
  • Reverend John H. White, eighteenth president, was instrumental in the development of a number of interdenominational cooperative projects such as the Coalition for Christian Outreach headquartered in Pittsburgh, and the founding of Beaver County Christian School in Beaver Falls.
  • Nineteenth president Dr. Kenneth A. Smith is currently the Dean of the McLane College of Business at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
  • Previous interim president Dr. William J. Edgar conducted his doctoral dissertation research in history in Athens, Greece, with the help of a Fulbright Dissertation Grant.

Past Presidents of Geneva College:

First

Reverend Dr. John Black Johnston

1848-1850

Second

Reverend William Finney George

1850-1852

Third

Dr. James Renwick Willson Sloane

1852-1856

Fourth

Reverend Dr. John Calvin Knox Milligan

1856-1858

Fifth

Reverend John Calvin Smith

1858-1860

Sixth

Reverend Dr. Nathan Robinson Johnston

1865-1867

Seventh

Dr. Samuel John Crowe

1867-1871

Interim

Reverend William Milroy

1871-1872

Eighth

Reverend Henry Hosick George

1872-1890

Ninth

Reverend William Pollock Johnston

1890-1907

Tenth

Reverend Dr. William Henry George

1907-1916

Eleventh

Reverend Dr. Renwick Harper Martin

1916-1920

Twelfth

Reverend Dr. Archibald Anderson Johnston

1920-1923

Thirteenth

Dr. McLeod Milligan Pearce

1923-1948

Fourteenth

Dr. Charles Marston Lee

1948-1956

Fifteenth

Dr. Edwin Cameron Clarke

1956-1980

Sixteenth

Dr. Donald William Felker

1980-1983

Interim

Dr. Edwin Cameron Clarke

1983-1984

Seventeenth

Dr. William Joseph McFarland

1984-1992

Eighteenth

Reverend Dr. John H. White

1992-2004

Nineteenth

Dr. Kenneth A. Smith

2004-2015

Interim

Reverend Dr. William J. Edgar

2015-2016

Twentieth

Dr. Calvin L. Troup

2016-