1943 - A School Started

Education began on Woodsdale road because of three families who refused to send their children to public school. These three families attended the Emmanuel church located in Salem, Ohio. Because they did not wish to send their children to public school, a small school was started in September of 1943. Five students attended the first year, and the enrollment continually increased in the following years.

1946 - Property Purchased

Because the enrollment kept increasing, it was necessary to find larger accommodations for the school. In 1946, the Emmanuel Association took responsibility for the school. They decided to purchase the “Satterthwaite Farm” which consisted of forty-three acres and several buildings which were used for dormitories, school rooms, and a dining hall.

1950 - Became Salem Bible Institute

In 1950, the Salem and Lisbon churches left the Emmanuel Association. This led to the formation of a seven-member board of trustees and the school then became know as Salem Bible Institute. The board was not only in charge of the care of the buildings and grounds, but also appointed members of faculty and staff.

1957 - Started Offering College Classes

The graduating class of 1957 desired to have college-level classes to prepare them for Christian service. President R. Willard Dunn felt the need to respond to the students’ desire and asked George Bowen and Delmar Kaufman to teach the first college classes. The classes started out general in nature. However, an academic dean was soon appointed and a curriculum was developed.

1959 - Administration Building Erected

The first college structure to be built was the Administration Building. Offices, classrooms, and a chapel occupied this space.

1967 - Men's Dorm / Leyshon Hall Built

The current men’s residence hall has served several purposes in the past. When it was first built in 1967, it was used as staff housing. There was a time when two staff families lived in the upper floors of the building while the basement was used as classroom space for the academy. In 1993, the house was remodeled from a generous gift of William Leyshon’s widow and now serves as the men’s residence hall.

1967 - Women's Residence Hall Built

A three-story brick structure was constructed in 1967. This provided a place of lodging for the women attending the school. This also provided a place for the campus dining hall and kitchen.

1973 - Became Allegheny Wesleyan College

Because Salem Bible Institute was not part of any denomination, it lacked substantial financial support. By the fall of 1972, the college was in serious financial need and turned to the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection to become its denominational sponsor. Most of the faculty and student body were already Wesleyan Methodists. In June of 1973, the conference voted at its annual conference and Rev. James Beers was appointed president. Salem Bible Institute had now become Allegheny Wesleyan College.

1992 - Rhoades Hall

Rhoades Hall was constructed in 1992 from the generous contributions of Mr. Ellis Rhoades as well as gifts made by several other AWC supporters. This building provided a nice place for recreation with volleyball being a favorite among the students. Banquets and other special events are also hosted at Rhoades Hall.

1998 - Sexton Hall

A generous donation was given by Mrs. Ann Sexton to build a new campus building. This building was constructed to occupy two classrooms as well as a nice sized library. It was completed in 1998.

2004 - Accreditation Achieved

On February 20, 2004, Allegheny Wesleyan College was granted accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges. This allowed for graduates to receive accredited diplomas.

2011 - Chapel Renovation Complete

In 2004, the AWC Alumni Association took it upon themselves to make their alumni project the chapel renovation. By the fall of 2011, the much needed renovation was completed including new windows, chapel lighting, and a new ceiling.

2020 - D. R. Kaufman Memorial Building

In fall of 2018 the generous donation of the family of Delmer R. Kaufman made it possible for the construction of a large multipurpose building to begin in the old ball field behind Sexton and Rhoades halls. The construction was completed in spring of 2020. This beautiful structure houses the music department, a large conference room, and a dual volleyball and basket ball courts that can also hold up to 700 people.

Our History in Detail

An overview of the college’s history begins with two families, Francis and Helen Price and Lindley and Orpha Hall (members of the Wilburite Quakers) who, in 1943, felt disinclined to send their children to public school. In 1946, the Halls became associated with the Eastern District of the Emmanuel Association, a group that assumed the oversight of the school begun by the two families approximately two miles from the present campus in a room added to their home. One year later, acreage on Woodsdale Road, the present site of the college campus, was purchased and several farm buildings where adapted and used as dormitories, classrooms, and dining hall. A feeding shed became the tabernacle for summer camp meetings. By 1949, eighty-five students were enrolled in this academy under the instruction of nine faculty members. In 1950, when the Salem and Lisbon churches left the Emmanuel Association, the school was transferred to a seven-member board of trustees and renamed Salem Bible Institute. In 1956, articles of incorporation were issued by the state of Ohio. Rev. R. W. Dunn, a Wesleyan Methodist minister from Canton, Ohio became president of the college.  The administration building, which included classrooms, library, and chapel, was constructed during his tenure.  Later, the three-story ladies’ residence hall, which also housed the college dining hall and ladies’ laundry room, was completed. In 1958 the college began to offer a limited number of college courses. Professor David Budenseik (M.Div., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) was hired as academic dean. A number of students transferred from Central Wesleyan College (Central, South Carolina) and made up Salem Bible College’s first graduating class in 1959. In that year, the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Religion was conferred upon the college graduates. The Ohio Board of Regents did not exist at that time, being created by the Ohio legislature in 1967.

The period from 1957 to 1973 saw the college struggling under the leadership of several presidents. Due to the college’s status as an interdenominational enterprise, no one particular denomination or church group felt the urge to underwrite the needs of the college. By the fall of 1972, the college was in serious financial difficulties and turned to the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection to become its denominational sponsor because, at that time, the president of the college, most of the faculty, student body, and constituency were Wesleyan Methodists. In June of 1973, the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection voted at its annual conference to assume sponsorship of the college, and Rev. James Beers was appointed president. At that time the corporate name was changed from Salem Bible College to Allegheny Wesleyan College and Academy, and shortly thereafter, the academy was organizationally separated from the college. The Secretary of State of Ohio reissued the charter of the college to reflect the new name. The college has enjoyed a general increase in constituency support.

During the tenure of President Beers, the “old barn” was completely remodeled and bricked and dedicated as Blair Hall. It served as the campus library until 1998 when Sexton Hall was completed.  President Beers also oversaw the construction of the president’s home.

From 1982-1986, Rev. Robert Luther’s presidency emphasized financial soundness and renewed focus on organizational mission. He was able to increase constituent confidence in the college and begin a period of increasing institutional stability. During his tenure, the Blair Hall roof was damaged by a tornado and had to be repaired.

In 1988, Rev. William Blair began a nine-year tenure as president. Through his efforts, additional property was purchased and Rhoades Hall, the gymnasium complex, was completed and plans were made for a new classroom/library building. Several faculty houses were purchased, constructed, or remodeled on the campus property during his term.

In 1997, Rev. David Phelps, Sr. assumed the presidency. During his tenure, thirteen acres were added to the campus, bringing the total acreage to forty-five. Also, Sexton Hall was constructed debt free. Other significant renovations and remodeling projects took place on campus. The acquisition of the Richardson property provided five married-student residences. Rev. Phelps’ tenure continued until he resigned in 2002. He also served as the president of the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Stewardship Foundation, the main source of endowment funds for the college.

In 2002, Dr. Robert England (D.Min., Nazarene Theological Seminary) assumed the presidency of the college. Dr. England had previously worked at AWC, where he began teaching in 1969, also serving as president from 1986-1988. His return to the college brought a strong emphasis on spiritual atmosphere, revival and preaching, and a desire to lead the college to stronger emphasis on scholarship and added breadth in program offerings.

In 2013, Daniel Hardy Sr. accepted the call to become President of Allegheny Wesleyan College and is currently holding the position.

History of Presidents

Rev. R. W. Dunn


Rev. George Bowen


Rev. Harry Corban

Acting President 1968

Rev. Leroy Adams, Sr.


Rev. David E. Phelps, Sr.


Rev. George R. Sundstrom


Rev. James Beers


Rev. R.W. Watral


Rev. Robert J. Luther


Rev. Robert E. England, Sr.


Rev. William A. Blair


Rev. David E. Phelps, Sr.


Dr. Robert E. England, Sr.


Rev. Daniel R. Hardy, Sr.


Find Our History Fascinating? Check Out Our Future!