A Foundation for a Right to Education - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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The College
February 26, 2019

A Foundation for a Right to Education

Celebrating Black History Month

Geneva College has always had a desire to serve a vastly diverse student body. After the Civil War ended, there was push to re-open the doors of the college. This desire for re-establishment had three motivations. 

First, Nathan Johnston and his wife wanted to re-open the college and came from Vermont for that purpose.

Second, the Reformed Presbyterian Church realized the benefits of a denominational college and led by RP Rev. John McCartney wanted to re-establish Geneva.

Third, McCartney, who owned the college buildings, had a vision to provide a fully funded education to selected freedmen in the South. His hope was to educate these men so that they could return as pastors and teachers to help build and strengthen a new community of freed and educated people of color. This vision, being important to the college and the Reformed Presbyterian denomination, became a reality when Geneva College was reestablished in 1865. 

Daniel Boxley was one student who came to Geneva because of the Program for Freedmen. He graduated from the college in 1873 and went on to teach at Knox Academy in Alabama. Knox Academy was a school established by Reformed Presbyterians to provide education for African-Americans in the South. After teaching, Boxley went on to work as a mail carrier and hotel clerk. In 1908 he became a rancher in Franklin County, Washington. 

The presence of freedmen in college life in the North was uncommon in this era, but Geneva was at the forefront of inclusiveness in higher education. African-American students from the South would be members of the student body well into the 1880s. Some notable African-American graduates were Lewis Johnston, G. M. Elliott and Solomon Kingston, all of whom returned to Alabama after their Geneva education to become pastors in the African-American Reformed Presbyterian congregation in Selma.

Geneva College values honoring one another and has been involved in breaking the social and economic barriers that prevent people from receiving a necessary education. Geneva continues today to seek to provide equal opportunity education and to minster to people of all backgrounds. The Diversity and Inclusion team works as part of the Center for Student Engagement at Geneva College to ensure that all students are being served, to learn more go to https://www.geneva.edu/cse/diversity-inclusion/

If you’d like to learn more about the core values of a biblically based, Christ-centered education at Geneva, we’d love to chat with you. For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your education goals, please phone us at 855-979-5563 or email web@geneva.edu.

-Katharyne Reitsma ‘20