History of Eastern University
Eastern Baptist Seminary Rittenhouse Campus
Over 90 years ago, on March 19, 1924, at 1:30 p.m. in the headquarters of the American Baptist Publication Society on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, six Baptist ministers founded what was then called the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
According to Gordon Baker, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Schenectady, NY at the time, and one of the six founders at that meeting ninety years ago that afternoon, the seminary was founded to provide Baptist churches with pastors who were both biblically informed and also culturally relevant.
First Graduating Class of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1926
Eastern Baptist College, organized 1951
Soon thereafter, college courses were added to the seminary curriculum to upgrade the academic qualifications of prospective ministerial students. Eastern University was founded in 1932 as a collegiate division of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1951, Eastern Baptist College was organized as a separate institution and relocated to the former Charles S. Walton estate in St. Davids, PA. Early in 1972, the legal name of the school was changed to Eastern College: a Baptist Institution.
A few years later, a correspondence school was added. It was an attempt to meet the educational needs of those who could neither travel to Philadelphia nor whose current life situation made theological education feasible to access. Eastern’s commitment to shaping education and curriculum to the adult learner continues through its graduate and adult undergraduate programs today. The first Eastern College graduate program (MBA) was approved in 1981.
Eastern was granted University status in 2001
Because of its growing complexity and expansion into international venues, Eastern College was granted University status in December, 2001. In 2003, the University was reunited with its mother institution, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Honoring the legacy of its longest-serving President, Gordon Palmer, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary was renamed Palmer Theological Seminary on July 1, 2005.
Today, the University enrolls approximately 3,500 students in undergraduate, graduate, urban, professional, international and seminary programs both on-ground and online. Its core values of faith, reason and justice are woven into all of its educational programs.