History of Montreat College

The beauty and tranquility of the Blue Ridge Mountains led Congregationalist minister John C. Collins to form the Mountain Retreat Association in 1897 “for the encouragement of Christian work and living through Christian convention, public worship, missionary work, schools, and libraries.” By 1907, J. R. Howerton of Charlotte, NC, conceived and carried out the idea of purchasing Montreat for the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Then, in 1913, Dr. Robert C. Anderson, president of the Mountain Retreat Association, proposed that the grounds and facilities of the Association be used for a school during the academic year. In 1915, the General Assembly decreed “that the property of the Mountain Retreat Association be used for a Normal School and that the establishment of the school be referred to the Synods”.

The Synods of Appalachia, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia elected trustees who met in Montreat on May 2, 1916, and elected Dr. Robert F. Campbell of Asheville, NC, chairman, Mr. W. T. Thompson Jr. of Knoxville, TN, secretary, and Ruling Elder T. S. Morrison of Asheville, NC, treasurer. The Montreat Normal School, a four-year preparatory and two-year college combination, opened its first session in October 1916 with eight students. Montreat Normal School continued to grow over the years. Throughout times of war, economic fluctuations, and rapid social change, the school sought to provide a Christian setting in which to prepare young women to become teachers.

In 1934, during Dr. Robert C. Anderson’s tenure as president, Montreat Normal School (College Department) was renamed Montreat College. The college grew as its academic program expanded. It began a four-year degree program in 1945. After 14 years as a four-year women’s college, the college was restructured in 1959 as a coeducational junior college and was given a new name, Montreat-Anderson College.

In 1986, the college Board of Trustees, realizing the demands and changing circumstances in higher education, made the decision to become again a baccalaureate institution. The dream of its first president, Dr. Anderson, was for the college to serve as an accredited baccalaureate institution. The college has realized that dream. It returned to the original name of Montreat College in August of 1995, sharing the original vision and identity. The change reflects the Montreat College of today, a four-year college with several growing campuses and a graduate program.

Montreat College’s School of Professional and Adult Studies began offering classes on September 19, 1994. The college’s Charlotte campus was officially opened on September 11, 1995, and the Asheville campus held its grand opening on October 8, 1996. Montreat College purchased 72 acres of land with 21 buildings in Black Mountain in the summer of 2001, resulting in a total of four Montreat College campuses.

In June 1998 Montreat College was accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a level three institution to offer the master’s degree in business administration. Since then Montreat College has added three more master’s degrees to its program offerings: the Master of Arts in Education, the Master of Science in Management and Leadership, and the Master of Science in Environmental Education, which was the first graduate program in the School of Arts in Sciences.

Montreat Timeline

1897: The beauty and tranquility of the Blue Ridge Mountains led Congregationalist minister John C. Collins to form the Mountain Retreat Association “for the encouragement of Christian work and living through Christian convention, public worship, missionary work, schools, and libraries.”

1907: J. R. Howerton of Charlotte, NC, conceived and carried out the idea of purchasing Montreat for the Presbyterian Church in the United States.

1913: Dr. Robert C. Anderson, president of the Mountain Retreat Association, proposed that the grounds and facilities of the Association be used for a school during the academic year.

1915: The General Assembly decreed “that the property of the Mountain Retreat Association be used for a Normal School and that the establishment of the school be referred to the Synods.”

1916: The Synods of Appalachia, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia elected trustees who met in Montreat on May 2. They elected Dr. Robert F. Campbell of Asheville, NC, chairman; Mr. W. T. Thompson Jr. of Knoxville, TN, secretary; and Ruling Elder T. S. Morrison of Asheville, NC, treasurer.

1916: The Montreat Normal School, a four-year preparatory and two-year college combination, opened its first session in October with eight students. Montreat Normal School continued to grow over the years. Throughout times of war, economic fluctuations, and rapid social change, the school sought to provide a Christian context for young women who were there to be trained as teachers.

1934: Montreat Normal School (College Department) was renamed Montreat College during Dr. Robert C. Anderson’s tenure as president. The college grew as its academic program expanded.

1945: Montreat College began a four-year college for women.

1959: After 14 years as a four-year women’s college, Montreat was restructured as a coeducational junior college and given a new name: Montreat-Anderson College.

1986: Realizing the demands and changing circumstances in higher education, the college Board of Trustees made the decision to once again become a baccalaureate institution. The dream of its first president, Dr. Anderson, was for the college to serve as an accredited baccalaureate institution. The college has realized that dream.

1995: The original name of Montreat College was restored in August, sharing the original vision and identity. The change reflects the Montreat College of today—a four-year college with several growing campuses and a graduate program.

1996: The Asheville campus held its grand opening.

1998: Montreat College was accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a level three institution to offer the master’s degree in business administration. Since then, Montreat College has added three more master’s degrees to its program offerings: the Master of Arts in Education, the Master of Science in Management and Leadership, and the Master of Science in Environmental Education.

2001: Montreat College purchased 72 acres of land with 21 buildings in Black Mountain in the summer, resulting in a total of four Montreat College campuses.

The Presidents of the College

Dr. Robert Campbell Anderson, 1916-1947

Dr. J. Rupert McGregor, 1947-1957

Dr. Calvin Grier Davis, 1959-1972

Dr. Silas M. Vaughn, 1972-1991

Mr. William W. Hurt, 1991-2002

Dr. John S. Lindberg, 2002-2003

Dr. Dan Struble, 2004-2012

Mr. Joseph Kirkland, Interim, 2013-Present