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History of Cedarville University

View a timeline of Cedarville University's history and a list of past presidents.

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Cedarville College was established in 1887 by five godly men who envisioned a college that would provide Christian higher education. Affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the College built its first building, Old Main (now called Founders Hall), in 1895.

The turbulence of the first 50 years of the 20th century led to hard times for the College. By the end of World War II, the Board of Trustees realized that enrollment could not support expenses, but, as God would ordain it, the Baptist Bible Institute of Cleveland, Ohio, was seeking to expand. That institution’s Board of Trustees became convinced Cedarville was the place God had chosen. 

By mutual agreement of both trustee boards, ownership of the College transferred in 1953, and Cedarville became a Baptist college of arts and sciences. Dr. James T. Jeremiah was called as president.

By 1959, Cedarville’s enrollment had grown to 255. Six years later, the student body nearly tripled to 763. By the end of Jeremiah's 25-year tenure as president in 1978, enrollment had grown to more than 1,200 students. That same year, Dr. Paul Dixon was called to lead Cedarville. 

In 2002, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to change from Cedarville College to Cedarville University. This move better communicated Cedarville’s expanded academic offerings, graduate studies, institutional organization, and increased national and international presence. 

By the end of Dixon's 25-year tenure as president in 2003, the student body had grown to more than 3,000 students. Under his leadership, Cedarville added nursing and engineering majors and constructed the Dixon Ministry Center and the Stevens Student Center. 

In 2003, Dr. Bill Brown became the next president of Cedarville University. Under Brown’s leadership, Cedarville built the Center for Biblical and Theological Studies and Health Sciences Center and launched four new graduate programs. 

In 2013, Dr. Thomas White became the 10th president of Cedarville University. Under his leadership, the University embarked on an extensive renovation of the Jeremiah Chapel, built new science laboratories, established two additional graduate programs, and founded the Center for Biblical Apologetics and Public Christianity.