Christ.  Scholarship.  Service.

Celebrating 125 Years of Christ, Scholarship, and Service

Our roots run deep. From our beginnings as Central College and Huntington College to the Huntington University we are today, Christ, scholarship, and service have been entwined in everything we do. And for over a century, we have seen God at work time and time again.

In 2022, we are celebrating 125 years of what God has done at Huntington University through the people, places, and ideas that are a part of our roots. Foresters around the globe are invited to participate in the festivities, to reminisce with us, and to share how HU has interwoven with their story. Because wherever we are today, our HU experience helped shape us into who we are — and that is something worth celebrating. 

The History of Huntington University


The Huntington Land Association, encouraged by Rev. A. G. Johnson, a Church of the United Brethren in Christ minister, approaches the United Brethren Board of Education with a proposal to locate a college in Huntington, Indiana.

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August 18

The cornerstone of College Hall is laid.

As Central College grew into the Huntington University of today, College Hall would change its name two times: first to the Administration Building and then to its current name, Becker Hall. When Central College opened in 1897, however, College Hall was Central College — the place where students attended classes and events and started building Forester traditions.

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September 22

Central College is dedicated and classes start the next day. Charles H. Kiracofe, a former president of Hartsville College, is appointed the first president.

Central College was Huntington University’s original name.

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October 3

The Young People’s Christian Organization is formed. October also sees the formation of the Philomathean Literary Society for male students. Female students organize the Zetalethean Literary Society in the same month. Besides promoting literary work, the societies serve as social groups for students.

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James H. McMurray, a professor of science and French at Central College, is elected the second president.

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The Ladies Auxiliary forms. The group is a precursor to the Huntington University Auxiliary, which funds amenities for residence halls and other facilities.

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June 15

The Alumni Association adopts its constitution.

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The first class, including Rufus A. Morrison, J. W. Sell, and Elizabeth Zehring, graduates.

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The Alumni Association forms.

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Thomas H. Gragg, son of a pioneer Oregon family and a professor of mathematics at Central College, is elected the third president.

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Fred Loew, an alumnus, is hired as professor of biology. He will serve Huntington off and on until his death in 1950. Dr. Loew is most remembered for reviving the Alumni Association and starting the Botanical Gardens, the agricultural program, and the Huntington University Foundation. 

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The Academy, a preparatory school for those not ready for the college program, is accredited by the State of Indiana. This allows graduates to obtain a standard high school degree. 

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The men’s basketball program begins. Women’s basketball has been around since the College’s opening. The men’s program began later because of the early perception that basketball was a feminine sport, as opposed to the more rugged football or baseball. The “gymnasium” at this point is a portioned-off section of the west end of Davis Hall on the third floor of College Hall. 

Davis Hall occupied the third floor of College Hall and was an open space for student activities, gatherings, and theatre productions. Although the third floor of Becker Hall is no longer called Davis Hall, the name was carried on in the Homecoming tradition Davis Hall Follies and, later, Davis Hall: Larger Than Life.

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The Central Literary Data is first published. This became known as The Huntingtonian when the University changed its name. It has continued throughout the history of the institution as the student newspaper. 

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Fermin Hoskins, another Oregon pioneer and a bishop of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, is elected the fourth president.

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Clarence A. Mummert is elected the fifth president, the first alumnus in that role. He also served, on separate occasion, as a bishop of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

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The Agricultural Experiment Station is constructed. Courses in agriculture and domestic science are instituted.

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Clare W. H. Bangs is elected the sixth president. At 25 years of age, he is the youngest person ever elected to the presidency of an Accredited American college. He is professor of mathematics at Central College at the time of his election. He will later serve as mayor of Huntington, Indiana. 

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Samuel L. Livingston, professor of theology, sells his house on the corner of Lake Street and College Avenue to the College. This building becomes the first unit of the original Livingston Hall. The home was originally built by C. H. Kiracofe.

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Ray C. Pellet serves as the first dean of the College.

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February 9

Central College is recognized as an Associate School in Class A by the State Board of Education. This allows the College to give a state-approved degree in education

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Central College changes its name to Huntington College.

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The Normal School receives accreditation by the state.

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A central heating plant is constructed. This allows for the removal of the furnaces from College Hall.

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Daniel R. Ellabarger is elected the seventh president. He previously served as professor of mathematics at Hartsville College.

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The first Washington Banquet is held.

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A gymnasium is constructed to the southeast of College Hall, mainly constructed with student labor. It is enlarged and brick veneered in 1934.

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Leora Ellabarger Stoudt composes the Alma Mater.

By the winding Wabash River,
High above the rest,
Stands our dear old Alma Mater,
Huntington, the best.

Alma Mater, we thy children,
Tribute bring to you,
Hail to thee our dear old college,
Hail, all hail, H.U.

Down the lane of rustling poplars,
Shrined in every heart,
Our beloved Alma Mater,
Huntington thou art.

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The first Mnemosyne, the yearbook of the student body, is published. It will be published continuously until 2010.

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The first soccer team is organized after the College disbands its football squad.

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Clarence A. Mummert is again elected president. He is the only president to serve two non-contiguous terms. His most famous act during this term is trying to force the College’s closure in 1932 due to the Great Depression. The Board of Education did not agree.

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April 1

The State Board of Education places Huntington College on its list of Standard Colleges. This recognizes the four-year course in high school teaching.

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The Foresters are named for the first time. Local sports writer “Cash” Keller, while watching a Huntington College basketball game, remarked that the team reminded him of the famed Robin Hood and his green-clad Foresters.

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Harold C. Mason is elected the eighth president. Dr. Mason was a former bishop of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and a former dean of Adrian College.

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The first Student Union is organized. Isaac H. Osgood is the first student body president.

The Student Union later became the Student Senate. Today, it is called the Student Government Association.

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The Great Depression inspires creativity on campus. A root cellar is built north of College Hall. Students bring in produce for some tuition remission.

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The College Print Shop is located in the lower level of College Hall.

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The Fred Loew Botanical Garden and Arboretum is established to the north of College Hall and dedicated in 1937.

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The Alumni Association is revived by Dr. Fred Loew. The first newsletter is published

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The first Garden Day is held.

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The Huntington College Foundation is organized. The instigation came from Dr. Fred Loew, and Jacob L. Brenn of Huntington Labs served as its president until 1962.

The Huntington University Foundation, as it’s now known, exists to support the mission of the University by promoting education and fostering a synergistic relationship between the University and the Huntington County community and surrounding area.

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Elmer Becker is elected the ninth president. Originally from Ontario, Canada, he previously served as secretary of Christian education for the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

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The original Milton Wright Memorial Hall is dedicated, named in honor of United Brethren Bishop Milton Wright, father of the Wright brothers, and those alumni who served and sacrificed their life in World War II.

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First “official” Homecoming.

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The steeple on the Administration Building (formerly known as College Hall) is removed for safety reasons.

Today, this building is called Becker Hall (named after the University’s ninth president, Elmer Becker).

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The Loew-Alumni Library is dedicated. Construction on the library started in 1948, but due to financial difficulties, it halted and started at various times. By 1953, the ground floor was complete and they were able to occupy that portion of the building while the upper floors were still under construction.

Later called the Administration Annex after RichLyn Library was built, this building stood on Huntington University’s campus until 2021.

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Accreditation is received from the North Central Association.

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The J. L. Brenn Hall of Science is dedicated. It is named after a local businessman to recognize his founding, with Fred Loew, and leadership of the Huntington College Foundation.

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E. Dewitt Baker is elected the tenth president. An alumnus, he had previously served as a missionary to Sierra Leone, where he oversaw the construction and opening of two high schools and several elementary schools.

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Hardy Residence Hall is dedicated. It is named after Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hardy of Hudson, Indiana, who were major contributors to the project.

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Lake Sno-Tip is constructed. It is named after the men who engineered and executed its construction: Gene Snowden, a member of the Board of Trustees, and Bill Tipmore, director of development.

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Thornhill Nature Preserve is acquired, a gift of Miss Mabel Thorn and the Nature Conservancy.

Huntington University operates Thornhill Nature Preserve for the educational enrichment of its own students and schoolchildren throughout the region. HU agriculture students, for instance, study field crop trials and production at the Outdoor Learning Lab at Thornhill.

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The Indiana Beta chapter of Alpha Chi, a national honor society, is inaugurated.

Indiana Beta is the second Alpha Chi chapter in Indiana. At the April 2015 Alpha Chi National Convention, the Huntington University chapter was nationally recognized as the year's outstanding chapter with The President's Cup. This is the second time HU won this distinction, having also been chosen to receive the honor in 2001. The chapter has a historic record as a Star Chapter of Alpha Chi. 

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The Huntington Union Building (HUB) is completed.

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The 4-1-4 calendar is adopted, allowing for the introduction of the January Term (J-term) course. J-term usually consists of one course not regularly offered in the college curriculum, ranging from courses on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to wood carving. Many students take advantage of this time for an international or intercultural academic experience.

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The Huntington College Archives are established. Miss E. Fay Conner, a former librarian, is the first to occupy the position.

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Membership in the Associated Colleges of Indiana is obtained. The organization is now known as the Independent Colleges of Indiana.

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The Graduate School of Christian Ministries is established, replacing the Theological Seminary that had been in existence since the beginning of the institution. Dr. Paul Fetters will lead the Graduate School of Christian Ministries for much of its existence.

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The Merillat Complex opens. Named after major donors Orville and Ruth Merillat, the facility houses the Physical Education Department and is a central location for most of the sports teams. It includes a gymnasium and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Many HU graduates know the Merillat Complex as the PERC, or the Merillat Physical Education and Recreation Complex. Today, this building is known as the Merillat Complex & Fieldhouse, or the PLEX.

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The Student Venture Auditorium is dedicated. This structure is attached to Brenn Science Hall and is totally funded by the student body through a series of fundraising events, including the annual spring Walk-A-Thon.

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Eugene B. Habecker is elected the eleventh president. Dr. Habecker previously served as vice president of the College for two years.

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Baker Residence Hall is named in honor of tenth president E. Dewitt Baker.

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RichLyn Library is dedicated. This new facility more than doubles the floor space of the old Loew-Alumni Library and includes state-of-the-art information retrieval systems. Huntington is one of the first private colleges in the state to implement an online catalog.

RichLyn Library takes its name from Richard and Lynette Merillat. Since RichLyn is a combination of their first names, the L in RichLyn is capitalized.

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Wright Residence Hall is constructed to take the place of the old Wright Hall, which is demolished for the construction of Roush Hall. It is named for Bishop Milton Wright, father of the Wright Brothers.

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The steeple is restored to the Administration Building. Through fundraising by the Class of 1989 and Interim President J. Edward Roush, money is secured to replace the steeple. Dr. Becker had the steeple removed in 1953 because of deterioration and safety concerns.

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Roush Residence Hall opens, named in honor of former congressman J. Edward Roush (Class of 1942).

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The Merillat Centre for the Arts is dedicated. Incorporating communications, music, art, and theatre, the facility included a 700-seat auditorium, music rehearsal space, the Robert E. Wilson Art Gallery, and a radio/television production studio.

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Habecker Dining Commons is built and named after eleventh president Eugene Habecker.

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G. Blair Dowden is elected the twelfth president. Dr. Dowden previously served as vice president of development at Houghton College.

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The women’s basketball and women’s track teams capture NCCAA national titles

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The EXCEL program launches for working adults.

The EXCEL program was the predecessor of Huntington University’s current online programs.

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The Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service, the precursor to the Friesen Center for Service and Experiential Learning, opens.

The Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service existed to connect students with the service needs of their community and missions projects around the globe. Today, the Friesen Center for Service and Experiential Learning combines that original vision with career preparation, connecting students with internship, practicum, and job shadow opportunities.

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Miller Residence Hall and Meadows Residence Hall open. Both are named after retired bishops of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ: C. Ray Miller (Class of 1951) and Clyde Meadows (Class of 1925).

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Fall enrollment tops 1,000 students.

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Dowden Science Hall opens. This building replaces Brenn Hall, which is converted into classroom space. In 2013, the University honors twelfth president G. Blair Dowden by naming the facility that was constructed during his administration after him.

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Seven new programs are developed, including a Master of Education degree and bachelor’s degrees in digital media arts, social work, and worship leadership.

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Huntington College changes its name to Huntington University.

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The first EXCEL program satellite location opens in Columbia City.

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Livingston Residence Hall opens, honoring the memory of all the women who passed through the old Livingston Hall that was torn down when RichLyn Library was constructed.

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The Studio Art Center is dedicated.

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Huntington University’s Fort Wayne location opens in cooperation with Parkview Hospital Randallia and the Life Sciences Research and Education Consortium of Northeast Indiana.

Located on the campus of Parkview Hospital Randallia, the Fort Wayne location is home to the Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy in Indiana.

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The Martin Center for Digital Media Arts is dedicated in Becker Hall (formerly known as the Administration Building).

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The HU team visits Peoria, Arizona, for the first time.

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The Board of Trustees approves the Peoria Initiative, which will lead to the opening of Huntington University Arizona in 2016.

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Sherilyn Emberton is elected the thirteenth president, the first female to hold that role at Huntington University. Dr. Emberton previously served as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at East Texas Baptist University.

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The Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy accepts its inaugural cohort at the Fort Wayne location.

The Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy is Huntington University’s first doctoral program. The program began in Indiana and later expanded to Arizona.

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The Haupert Institute for Agricultural Studies opens, named in honor of Dale and Elaine Haupert, longtime area farmers and lay members of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Dale was also a member of the Huntington University Board of Trustees.

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Huntington University Arizona students attend classes in the Center for Digital Media Arts in Peoria, Arizona, for the first time.

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HU Arizona adds animation to its program offerings.

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The Institute for Christian Thought & Practice launches. The Institute brings together three academic departments (Bible and Religion, Ministry and Missions, and Philosophy) and is located in the upper level of Loew-Brenn Hall. The Institute also coordinates the Christ in the Academy Committee, Global Vision (the student missions fellowship), Joyful Noise (the student worship team), and the Veritas Institute (a summer theology conference for high school students).

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Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat presents HU Arizona with the Mayor’s Award at the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Banquet.

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The Don Strauss Animal Science Education Center is dedicated.

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The Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy welcomes its first HU Arizona cohort.

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The reimagined HUB opens.

April 2020, construction officially began on the much-anticipated reimagined HUB. Despite the extraordinary circumstances of an international pandemic, the project finished on schedule. Foresters were thrilled to be back in the heart of campus where they could gather in reimagined spaces, take in the exceptional view of Lake Sno-Tip, and enjoy expanded food service opportunities. With the arrival of spring, new outdoor seating also became popular. Inside and out, the reimagined HUB is spectacular.   

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