Timeline of Seventh-day Adventist Education

This brief timeline, covering the period of 1853-2005, provides a broad overview of the history of Seventh-day Adventist education, including the department which now oversees that work.


Martha Byington, daughter of future General Conference President John Byington, opens the first known church school for Sabbatarian Adventists in Buck’s Bridge, New York, United States.


In Battle Creek, Michigan, United States, Goodloe Harper Bell opens the first school sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Ellen G. White writes her seminal essay, “Proper Education,” which appears in installment form in The Health Reformer and later in Testimonies for the Church, volume 3.


Battle Creek College, the first Adventist college, opens with Sidney Brownsberger as president. It enrolls both male and female students.

In order to provide oversight for its new program of education, the General Conference organizes the Educational Society, incorporated in Michigan.


The first Adventist textbook, A Natural Method in English, is produced by Goodloe Harper Bell.


The church opens its second college program, Healdsburg College, in northern California.


The church’s first school of nursing opens at Battle Creek Sanitarium, operated by Drs. Kate Lindsay and Ann Stewart under the auspices of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.


The General Conference creates the office of Secretary of Education, appointing W. W. Prescott to the position in addition to his responsibilities as president of Battle Creek College.


The church’s first teachers’ institute convenes in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States.


The Harbor Springs (Michigan) Teachers’ Institute meets, the first convention for all North American teachers. Its approximately 100 attendees initiate the first reforms in Adventist education, advocating that the Bible be the center of all curricula.


Claremont Union College, the first Adventist college outside of the United States, opens in Kenilworth, South Africa.


Battle Creek Sanitarium establishes the first Adventist school of medicine, American Medical Missionary College, with John Harvey Kellogg as president.

James Edson White begins the first church school for African-Americans aboard the Morning Star, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Workers from South Africa and North America establish Solusi Mission in Matabeleland after receiving a grant of 12,000 acres of land from Cecil Rhodes to educate Africans.


Oakwood Industrial School opens in Huntsville, Alabama, as a training school for African-Americans after General Conference President O. A. Olsen personally leads a commission to prepare buildings and land.

Battle Creek College establishes the first Adventist teacher-preparation department, led by Frederick Griggs.


Avondale School for Christian Workers (the future Avondale College), begins classes in Cooranbong, Australia, with C. B. Hughes as principal.

E. A. Sutherland, president of Battle Creek College, launches the “Movement of ’97,” which dramatically increases the number of church schools.


N. Z. Town founds the first worker-training school in South America, the forerunner of River Plate Adventist University, at Las Tunas, Entre Rios, Argentina. Frank Westphal and fellow workers later re-establish the school near Diamante.


Missionsseminar Friedensau, the predecessor of Friedensau Adventist University, offers its first classes on an old estate, Klappermuhle, near Magdeburg, Germany.


P. T. Magan begins a campaign to eliminate the debts of Adventist schools and other institutions. Ellen White donates the proceeds from the sale of Christ’s Object Lessons to raise money for schools.

Teachers from North America’s 220 elementary schools gather at Battle Creek, Michigan, for the church’s first institute for church school teachers.


The General Conference creates the Educational Department with John Harvey Kellogg as chairman and P. T. Magan as secretary.


Duncombe Hall Missionary College, precursor to Newbold College, opens in London, England, with H. R. Salisbury as principal.

George McCready Price publishes Outlines of Modern Science and Christianity, the first Adventist book offering scientific support for creationism.


Ellen White publishes Education, the leading Adventist treatise on education. It becomes a leading source for college classes on principles of Christian education.


E. A. Sutherland and P. T. Magan launch the Nashville (Tennessee) Agricultural and Normal Institute, the beginning of the self-supporting educational movement in the American South.

Ida Thompson establishes the first Adventist school in China, Bethel Girls’School in Canton, which later evolves into Hong Kong Adventist College.


Buresala Training School (the forerunner of Fulton College) opens in Fiji for Pacific Islanders.

The Southern California Conference buys a resort hotel that will become Loma Linda University and, the following year, opens a school of nursing.

The General Conference adopts a “harmonious system of education” that integrates elementary, secondary, and college levels and articulates teaching materials and manuals.

The General Conference Educational Department becomes the Department of Education.


Pacific Press publishes the first Adventist church school manual.


Washington Training College in Takoma Park, Maryland, becomes the Washington Foreign Missionary Seminary with H. R. Salisbury as president.

Sam Yuk Shin Hak Tai Hak (Korean School for Boys), forerunner of Sahmyook University, opens in Soonan.

Pacific Press begins to publish the True Education Reader Series, graded reading books for elementary schools authored by Adventists.


The College of Medical Evangelists receives a charter to operate schools of medicine and dentistry, and admits its first class of medical students.

Pacific Press begins publishing Alma McKibbin’s Bible Lessons, a graded series of Bible textbooks for elementary schools.

Frederick Griggs establishes the Fireside Correspondence School, which later becomes Home Study International and Griggs University.

Christian Education, the first denomination-wide periodical about education, begins publication with Frederick Griggs as editor. Thirty years later, it becomes the Journal of True Education, the forerunner of the Journal of Adventist Education.


Three seminaries for Scandinavian- and German-speaking Adventist students open in Minnesota, Missouri, and Illinois.


The College of Medical Evangelists receives a “C” rating from the American Medical Association, sparking a 25-year debate over accreditation.


Manuel Camacho collaborates with Fernando and Ana Stahl to build La Plateria Mission in Peru, the first of a system of mission schools that helped to transform society among Andean tribespeople.


Adventist Seminary in Brazil starts classes with 18 students and J. H. Boehm as director. It later becomes Brazil Adventist University.

South India Training School (forerunner of Spicer Memorial College) opens in Coimbatore under the direction of G. G. Lowry.


Philippine Seventh-day Adventist Academy (later the Adventist University of the Philippines) opens.


Denton Rebok conducts the church’s first teachers’ institute in China.


West Indian Training School, the first permanent worker-training school in the Caribbean and forerunner of Northern Caribbean University, opens in Mandeville, Jamaica.


Seminaire Adventiste du Saleve opens in Collonges-sous-Saleve, France, and serves for many years as the church’s primary worker-preparation school for French-speaking Adventists.


The General Conference Department of Education designates assistant and associate secretaries for elementary, secondary, and higher education. Sarah Peck becomes the first female member of the department, assigned to elementary education.

The Far Eastern Branch of the Fireside Correspondence School, the first branch outside the United States, opens in Shanghai, China.


W. E. Howell, General Conference Secretary of Education, conducts the first world council for Adventist educators in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


The Association of Seventh-day Adventist Colleges and Secondary Schools is formed with its executive arm, the Board of Regents, to accredit Adventist schools.


The General Conference drafts a position statement on creationism and authorizes a program of research and publication to refute evolution. Science and math teachers in North American colleges meet to begin discussions of creationism.


Pacific Union College earns accreditation from the Board of Regents, the first Adventist college to obtain denominational accreditation.

Philippine Junior College becomes Philippine Union College, the first Adventist four-year degree-granting institution outside North America.


Pacific Union College is awarded accreditation by Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools, the first Adventist college to be regionally accredited.


The Advanced Bible School (forerunner of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary) is organized at Pacific Union College, in Angwin, California.

The Medical Cadet Corps is introduced at Union College (Nebraska), with Everett Dick as the commanding officer.


After heated debate, General Conference session delegates approve of regional accreditation for Adventist colleges.


General Conference Education Secretary H. A. Morrison conducts the Blue Ridge Educational Convention, the second (and last) world council for Adventist educators.


Adventist College of Beirut, the only Adventist postsecondary institution in the Islamic Middle East and forerunner of Middle East University, opens with G. A. Keogh as president.


The Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary moves into new and separate quarters in Takoma Park, Maryland.


Colegio Agricola Industrial Mexicana (forerunner of Montemorelos University), begins classes at Montemorelos, Mexico.

The church establishes the Hispanic-American Seminary in Corrales, New Mexico, to serve the Spanish-speaking U.S. population.

The world church authorizes its seminary to grant Master’s degrees.


Spicer College (Pune, India) becomes the second Adventist four-year, postsecondary institution outside North America.


Union College inaugurates the church’s first baccalaureate program of nursing education.


Education resumes at Friedensau, East Germany, after having been closed during World War II.


China Training Institute closes following the Communist Revolution.


Philippine Union College becomes the first Adventist school outside the United States to receive authority to offer graduate courses.


The first class enrolls in the School of Dentistry at the College of Medical Evangelists.

The General Conference makes the Master’s degree the standard academic preparation for ministers.


Solusi Training School (Zimbabwe) becomes Solusi Missionary College, the first four-year, postsecondary program for Africans.

Australasian Missionary College affiliates with Pacific Union College, inaugurating the era of international affiliations among Adventist schools.

The Board of Regents extends its accrediting authority beyond North America, the inception of international denominational accreditation.


The General Conference organizes Potomac University in Takoma Park, Maryland, for ministerial training.

The General Conference establishes the Geoscience Research Institute.

Philippine Union College becomes the first non-American Adventist institution to receive authority from the General Conference to offer Master’s degrees (education).


The General Conference approves the merger of Potomac University and Emmanuel Missionary College in Berrien Springs, Michigan. A new name, Andrews University, is selected two years later.

The College of Medical Evangelists grants the first Adventist Ph.D. (medical sciences).


Columbia Union College and Sligo church (both in Takoma Park, Maryland) combine to send the church’s first student missionary.


The College of Medical Evangelists changes its name to Loma Linda University.


Loma Linda University Overseas Heart Surgery Team begins a program of treating international heart patients in their home countries.


Administrators of Adventist colleges and universities adopt a statement on academic freedom that prohibits classroom instruction contrary to Adventist teachings.


The Academic Conference on Modern Church-State Problems convenes at Andrews University. Attendees challenge the traditional Adventist position on government aid to church-sponsored schools.


Newbold College becomes the first postsecondary school outside North America to achieve accreditation by the church’s Board of Regents.


The theological seminary begins to offer its first doctoral program (doctor of ministry).


The Vocational and Professional School in Montemorelos, Mexico, receives state authority to issue recognized university degrees. The institution establishes the second Adventist school of medicine.


The General Conference Department of Education begins to issue the Citation of Merit, Award of Excellence, and Medallion of Merit awards.


The theological seminary at Philippine Union College becomes the first recognized division-sponsored seminary outside North America. The institution moves from Caloocan City to its present site in Silang, Cavite.


The South American Division organizes the Latin American Theological Seminary, headquartered in Brasilia, the church’s first division-wide, multi-campus seminary.


The landmark Defence of Government Schools case in Australia establishes the legitimacy of government financial aid for church-sponsored schools in that nation.


Loma Linda University affiliates with Kasturba Medical College near Manipal, India, to educate physicians and other healthcare professionals.


The General Conference Department of Education forms the Institute for Christian Teaching and initiates seminars in every world field to promote the integration of faith and learning.


The Adventist University of Central Africa, serving Francophone Africa, is accredited by the Rwandan government. It becomes the first government-recognized, degree-granting Adventist institution for Africans but closes six years later during civil disturbances. It later reopens as a multi-campus institution.


The Department of Education launches Dialogue, a periodical published in four languages that discusses intellectual issues and is beamed to Adventist college and university students, worldwide.

Zaoksky Theological Seminary opens as the first educational center for Adventists in the Soviet Union.

The Far Eastern Division opens the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, in Silang, Cavite, Philippines, the church’s only free-standing graduate school.


LLU Medical Center installs the world’s first hospital-based proton treatment facility.

The postsecondary portion of Home Study International become Griggs University.

B. Lyn Behrens is the first woman to become president of an Adventist university.


The University of Eastern Africa, Baraton receives a charter from the Kenyan government, becoming the church’s first tertiary institution for English-speaking Africans with government-recognized, degree-granting authority.


South Korea’s Sahmyook College becomes Sahmyook University; adding a doctorate to its theology curriculum.


The church’s Annual Council votes to place ministerial education under the jurisdiction of the divisions as monitored by the International Board of Ministerial and Theological Education.


Solusi College, near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, receives a charter as a degree-granting university.

The North American Division is the first world field to elevate the director of education to a vice president.


The General Conference Department of Education began to confer the Global Award in Adventist Education.


Worldwide enrollment in Adventist schools surpasses one million.


The General Conference organizes a new Commission of Higher Education to develop a global plan for Adventist tertiary institutions.


In Columbia Union College v. Clarke, the court rules that Columbia Union College (Takoma Park, Maryland) may legally receive money from the state of Maryland, using the “neutrality” test rather than the “pervasively sectarian” legal test to determine the eligibility of church-sponsored colleges for government aid.

The number of Adventist elementary schools passes 5,000.


The number of teachers in Adventist secondary schools exceeds 20,000.


Annual Council accepts a recommendation from the International Faith and Science Conferences affirming traditional Adventist beliefs about creation.


In the years since 1974, a total of 31 people worldwide have received the Citation of Merit, 130 the Award of Excellence, 43 the Medallion of Distinction, and 13 the Global Award in Adventist Education (1997-).

The Journal of Adventist Education receives its seventh Distinguished Achievement Award (including one Finalist nomination) from the Association of Educational Publishers—two for theme issues; six for feature articles.

This timeline was originally compiled by Floyd Greenleaf and published in the Journal of Adventist Education. That article can be seen here. An earlier timeline, published in the Adventist Review, can be found here.

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