The same year that the New York Yankees won their first World Series championship, 1923 also marked the official creation of Houghton as a chartered college. Located in Houghton, New York, Houghton University recently celebrated 100 years of “equipping students to serve God fully and faithfully in and labor as scholar-servants in a changing world.”
Houghton College transitioned from a high school with a few college classes, to a full-fledged college 100 years ago on April 7, 1923. Willard J. Houghton’s vision in 1883 to serve “poor boys and girls” ignited and guided Houghton’s humble beginnings.
Early in its infancy, Houghton faced challenges in seeking accreditation. Some church officials feared academic standardization might lessen spiritual effectiveness. Houghton’s leaders stood firm, believing that spiritual power and educational competence were compatible and should go hand in hand. Through President James Seymour Luckey’s persistence, the church’s approval of the accreditation requirements allowed Houghton to transform into the first established Wesleyan College in 1935. This persistence also helped set the tone for future Wesleyan educational institutions’ accreditations.
Since 1935, Houghton has faithfully pursued the mission of equipping students while taking steps in this changing world to serve the scholar-servants they’ve been entrusted with more fully. In 2022, under the leadership of Houghton’s sixth president, Dr. Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., Houghton once again transitioned, moving from a college to a university.
In celebration of their 100-year milestone anniversary, President Lewis stated, “Throughout our history — whether Houghton Seminary at our founding by The Wesleyan Church, Houghton College as of 100 years ago this year and now Houghton University — our focus and commitment as a Christ-centered institution in the Wesleyan tradition that intentionally integrates our Christian faith with academic excellence has never wavered. That commitment today is as strong as ever and we move courageously and prayerfully into Houghton’s next chapter of service, innovation and excellence.”
Amid changes in the cultural landscape of the world as well as the church over the last 100 years, Houghton’s 23,000 alumni speak to the university’s strength and fortitude. Remaining true to their scholar-servant leadership focus, the university still honors the strong Christian faith they have fought to preserve and uphold.
In one of their recent 100-year celebration articles, Houghton shares just a few of their distinguished alumni who stand as reflections of the wider culture and the opportunities it brings when one possesses such a firm foundation: a woman who served under two U.S. presidents with contributions to AIDs research and the COVID Epidemic; a neurosurgeon the sitting U.S. President credits with saving his life; two women who were honored as Members of the British Empire at the hand of Queen Elizabeth the second; military personal who were awarded decorations, one of which was awarded with the Gold Star.
As a nod to its beginnings, Houghton currently offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn college credit online while finishing up their high school education. Through this dual enrollment program, students can earn a college education faster and even transfer their credits to another university.
Houghton University’s academic excellence continues to propel them forward in their mission and outreach. Their faithful work has earned accolades in academic circles during 2022 including being named “Best Regional College in the Northeast” in “The Princeton Review,” “Top 15 ‘Best National’ Liberal Arts College in NY” in “U.S. News & World Report,” and “#12 Best College and University by Academic Stewardship” in “Academic Influence.”
With such a rich history and deep roots of faith, the full scope of Houghton’s influence may not be realized until eternity.
Rev. Sarah Cochran is a Wesleyan pastor serving in Interchurch Service for Destiny Rescue, an agency rescuing kids from sex trafficking worldwide, and a graduate of Wesley Seminary, Marion, Indiana.