For 150 years, the Greenville University campus has been the scene of Christian higher education. In the mid-nineteenth century Stephen Morse moved from New Hampshire to Greenville, where he met and married Almira Blanchard. In 1855, he established a college for women, supported in part by his wife's inheritance and named in her honor. Almira College was affiliated with the Baptist church and educated young women under the leadership of John B. White, a classmate of Morse at Brown University. After 23 years, ownership passed to James Park Slade, who maintained the affiliation but changed the College to a co-educational institution.
In 1892, ministerial and lay leaders of the Central Illinois Conference of the Free Methodist Church purchased the property of Almira College, consisting of "Old Main" and several acres of land, to provide higher education for both men and women under distinctive Christian influences. The institution was reincorporated as an independent institution under the name of Greenville College Corporation and was authorized to confer the usual degrees.
The College and the Free Methodist Church share a commitment to a Wesleyan theological tradition and have maintained the rich legacy of mutual support in a voluntary relationship since reincorporating in 1893. Wilson T. Hogue, a New York pastor and scholar, was called to be the College's first president. During his administration, he not only taught and directed the College, but also earned his Ph.D. degree. Only eleven individuals have served the College as president during its more than 110-year history.
Starting with the first graduate in 1898, Greenville University now averages 450 graduates each year at Commencement. The quality of our graduates is made clear in their accomplishments. An unusually high proportion have gone on to earn doctorates. Alumni serve with distinction in major professions in government, business, the church, Christian missions, and as faculty of major universities and colleges.