James T. Jeremiah
Dr. James T. Jeremiah, born in New York in 1914, graduated from Baptist Bible Seminary in Johnson City, New York, in 1936. Dr. Jeremiah assumed his first pastorate in Panama, New York, followed by a move to the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio, in 1938. In 1940, he began his service as the pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio. It was while serving in Dayton that Dr. Jeremiah became aware of the plight of Cedarville College in Cedarville, Ohio, whose trustees in 1953 were looking for a merger with another institution or another group to assume the responsibility for the College, given it was on the verge of closing. At the same time, the Baptist Bible Institute of Cleveland was searching for another property to which they could move to ease crowdedness and to expand to a four-year college program. Dr. Jeremiah's service on the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Bible Institute and his awareness of the availability of the Cedarville College campus led him to be instrumental in the decision by Baptist Bible Institute of Cleveland to merge with Cedarville College, taking over an institution with declining enrollments and increasing debt.
Though reluctant to leave the church ministry he loved, Dr. Jeremiah was finally persuaded to take over the leadership of Cedarville College, now under Baptist direction after its 66 years under the Presbyterians. With Dr. Jeremiah's servant leadership, the College began the transformation from a struggling school to an accredited institution of higher learning respected for its graduates, programs, faculty, and facilities. College enrollment steadily increased during Dr. Jeremiah's tenure, reaching more than 1200 by the mid-1970's. This transformation of the institution also included the expansion and development of the campus with major new facilities being constructed and additional land being purchased for future growth.
During his tenure as the President of Cedarville, Dr. Jeremiah earned an undergraduate degree in history from Central State University in 1961, a Master of Arts degree form Winona Lake School of Theology in 1968, and he was awarded the honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Cedarville College in 1974. Dr. Paul Dixon, Cedarville's eighth president, said of Dr. Jeremiah at the time of his death in 2000, "Dr. Jeremiah has been 'Mr. Cedarville' for the past 47 years. He provided the vision and energy to transform a struggling college into an institution of higher learning that attracts some of the brightest and most committed Christian young people in America." Dr. Jeremiah stepped down as president in 1978, and assumed the role of Chancellor, which he held until his death in August, 2000. The Jeremiah Chapel in the Dixon Ministry Center is named in honor of Dr. James T. Jeremiah.