Wilson College Presidents


Wilson College Presidents


Wilson College Presidents


A history of Wilson College's presidents.


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C. Elizabeth Boyd '33 Archives




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Rev. Tryon Edwards
Rev. Tryon Edwards served as an honorary President of Wilson College from 1870-1871. He worked in close partnership with the Vice-President, Rev. James Wightman, who was responsible for the College's administration.

Rev. Edwards was the…

Rev. James Wightman
The Rev. James W. Wightman, Vice-President and Acting President
Edwards: Presbyterian minister from Hagerstown Maryland
Wightman: pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Greencastle. Wightman did not believe in a “female” education of women – he…

Inaugurated: Sept. 11, 1873
Resigned: June 23, 1874
Education: Jefferson College class of 1847
Dr. Archibald remained at Wilson for only one year. He had previously been a professor at the Danville Theological Seminary, which temporarily closed,…

Rev. James Kennedy
Inauguration: Acting President (1872-1873 & 1874-1876)
Rev. Dr. Kennedy was Vice President during President Archibald's term and then served as acting president (1872-1873 and 1874-1876) between Archibald's resignation and President Wylie's…

Inaugurated: 1876
Resigned: 1878
Education: Reverend Wylie was ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1853.
Reorganized college curriculum; capped enrollment at 75 students (which he did not reach),…

Inaugurated: pro tem, 1878
Resigned: 1881
Died: Sept. 19, 1893
Inaugurated: Lady Principal, 1877
Resigned: 1881
Education: Vassar, 1869
Management of the College was largely given to Lady Principal Abby Goodsell. Started the…

Rev. Dr. J.C. Caldwell
Inauguration: 1881
Resignation: 1883
1881: establishment of a School of Music
1882: special course in Fine Arts

Rev. Dr. John Edgar
Born: June 12, 1840 near Dublin, Ireland
Died: June 5, 1894
Inauguration: 1883
Education: Attended Andover Theological Seminary – ordained in 1869, honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Washington College

Family moved to America in 1849…

Lady Principal Elizabeth Edgar
Inauguration: Lady Principal/Dean, 1883 & Acting President, 1894
Resignation: 1895
Following the unexpected death of her husband, Mrs. Edgar unofficially took over as Acting President while the College searched for President Edgar's successor.…

Rev. Dr. Samuel Martin
Born: 1853, Canonsburg
Died: 1921
Inauguration: May 28, 1895
Resignation: 1903
Education: Lafayette ’77, Princeton Theological Seminary ’80; Received degree of D.D. from alma mater (1892)

Facilities: President’s Hall (infirmary);…

Matthew Reaser
Inauguration: June 10, 1903
Resignation: June 7, 1911
Campus doubled in size to fifty acres
1906 – athletic fields developed on north campus
Entrance requirements stiffened
Number of elective courses increased
Department of Bible established in…

Anna J. McKeag
Born: Washington, PA
Inauguration: 1911
Resignation: August 1, 1915
Education: AB from Wilson (1895), PhD from University of PA (1900). Also studied at Clark University (1902-1904). Honorary degree from Wilson College (1932).
First official…

Rev. Ethelbert D. Warfield
Born: Lexington, KY 1861
Died: July 6, 1936
Inauguration: 1915
Education: University of Kentucky, completed BA at Princeton in 1882. Spent 1882-1883 at Oxford in England where he specialized in constitutional history. 1885 graduated from Columbia…

Paul Swain Havens
Born: Lawrenceville, New Jersey Sept. 19, 1903
Died: August 22, 1980
Inauguration: May 22, 1937 at age of 33 (one of the youngest college presidents in the country)
Resignation: 1970
Education: Princeton University (valedictorian), member of Phi…

Charles Cole
Born: Sept. 12, 1922 in Altoona, PA
Died: June 18, 2010
Inauguration: July 1, 1970
Resignation: March 1975
Education: AB, MA, and PhD in history from Columbia University
1946-1958 served as Associate Dean of Students and taught American history…

Lawrence Dennis
Inauguration: Acting President, March 1975
Resignation: August 1975
Emphasis on increased enrollment through recruiting and financial aid.

Margaret Waggoner
Inauguration: August 1, 1975
Resignation: 1979
February 19, 1979 announced closure of Wilson College
March 14, 1979 Alumnae Association filed suit to keep school open
May 25, 1979 Judge Keller rules that Wilson College would remain open

Donald Bletz
Born: July 28, 1925 Mountville PA
Inauguration: Interim President 1979
Resignation: 1981
Education: BA (history major) University of Omaha; Master of Arts (international relations) the American University; Doctor of Philosophy (international…

Mary-Linda Merriam
Born: May 31, 1943 in Jeannette, PA
Inauguration: October 3, 1981
Resignation: 1991
Education: BA, MA, and PhD in speech communication from Pennsylvania State University. Also studied at Grove City College; Center for the Study of Languages in…

Gwendolyn Jensen
Inauguration: 1991
Resignation: June 30, 2001
Education: PhD in history from University of Connecticut; MA from Trinity College; BA in English from University of Hartford
Before Wilson: Provost and Dean of Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio; Vice…

Lorna Edmundson
Inauguration: Oct. 6, 2001
Resignation: June 2011
Education: Columbia University’s Teachers College; Columbia’s graduate school of business’s executive program in Accounting and Finance, Boston College and Rhode Island College. Studied at the…

Barbara Mistick
Inauguration: July 1, 2011 at Wilson
Resignation: June 2019
Education: President Mistick earned a doctorate in management from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Business in 2003, a master’s degree in business administration…

Richard Kneedler
Inauguration: Interim President, June 2019
Resignation: December 2019
BA from F&M, MA and PhD from University of Pennsylvania.
Instructor in F&M’s French Department (1968), President of F&M (1988-2002).
Wife, Suzette (Gallagher) Kneedler, is a…

Wesley Fugate
Inauguration: 2020
Education: BA from Centre College (2002), MA from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University (2005), PhD from Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia (2012)
Vice president for student affairs and dean of students at…
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