The Wesleyan Church’s Oldest Established College Becomes Houghton University
Following the approval of the New York State Board of Regents, Houghton College has become Houghton University. The oldest established higher education institution of The Wesleyan Church, an evangelical holiness denomination, Houghton embodies the historic meaning of “evangelical.” As a result, Houghton maintains that the Bible is the fully inspired Word of God and recognizes Jesus Christ as Savior.
“This is an important moment in the history of our institution,” said Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., President of Houghton. “Throughout our history – whether Houghton Seminary at our founding by The Wesleyan Church (then Wesleyan Methodist Connection), Houghton College most recently or Houghton University as of today – 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. With this transition, we move courageously and prayerfully into Houghton’s next chapter of service, innovation and excellence.”
Houghton’s mission—to provide a pathway for individuals to radically alter the social and economic trajectory of their lives through a high-quality, Christ-centered education—began in 1883 with the residents of Allegany County and grew to include students from 37 states and 17 countries.
“The Wesleyan Church has had an emphasis on higher education from its beginning,” said Rev. Dr. Joey Jennings ’86, member of the board of trustees and superintendent of the Western New York District of The Wesleyan Church. “A Houghton education is able to provide a biblically centered framework with excellence in academics. Our ability to put those two together enables the church to be stronger because we’re thinking deeper about the issues our culture is facing. ‘University’ represents well what we are doing at Houghton.”
Houghton continues to improve educational access through the recent tuition reset, which made it the best-priced Christian college in the nation1; college courses offered fully online and in Buffalo; and early college courses for high school students. This change in Houghton’s status elevates the institution’s efforts to improve access, particularly for international students. In addition, Houghton will expand its offerings on the historically underserved East Side of Buffalo this fall with new hybrid courses that will allow Houghton Buffalo students access to residential campus bachelor’s degrees in business, psychology or criminal justice.
“This is the right time for Houghton to fully embody not just the structure and rigor of a university but also the name,” remarked John Lee, former chair of Houghton’s board of trustees. “This name accurately reflects Houghton’s legacy of academic excellence and better positions the institution to serve a diverse student body and realize our competitive advantage as a Christian university in Western New York.”
A task force led by Dr. JoAnne Barnes, Houghton trustee, and Jason Towers, vice president for enrollment and marketing, recommended the change following the move by the New York State Board of Regents to establish new criteria for university status earlier this year. This team, comprising representatives of the faculty, staff, administration and current students, sought input from multiple constituent groups and presented Lewis with a recommendation to amend the charter of Houghton College. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved Lewis’ recommendation of the change at the April meeting, and final approval was received following July’s meeting of the Board of Regents.
“As we write this next chapter of Houghton’s story,” Lewis remarked, “Houghton University is well-positioned to provide prospective students and families with a Christ-centered university option that intentionally integrates faith development with superior academic preparation. As has been the case throughout our history, Houghton graduates will continue to positively impact the world.”
Houghton students, alumni and friends will gather virtually to celebrate this new university status on Tuesday, July 19, the 197th birthday of the institution’s founder, Willard J. Houghton.
1Based on the most recent tuition survey by the Council of Christian Colleges & Universities