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History of Goshen College

The picture above shows the groundbreaking of Goshen College in a wheat field on the Shoup farm at the south end of Eighth Street in June 1903.
Goshen College was founded in 1894 as the Elkhart Institute of Science, Industry and the Arts – a private preparatory school to provide the opportunity for Mennonite and other young people to further their education. Soon afterwards, the Mennonite Church took over its operation. By 1900 the school was flourishing, and new facilities were needed for academics and student housing. Business and civic leaders from the city of Goshen convinced school leaders of the benefits of relocating to the southern edge of their growing town, and ground was broken on a wheat field near train tracks that could accommodate delivery of students to the new campus.

From its inception, Goshen College has been known for its high ideals for excellence and energetic vision, inspired by a deep desire to uniquely prepare students as engaged church members and leaders and responsible world citizens. Soon after establishing the Goshen campus in 1903, President Noah Byers suggested a college motto that has stood the test of time: “Culture for Service” has inspired generations of students to follow the example of Jesus as they equip themselves for lives of service. Since 1997, the college has planned a day off from classes to offer hands and hearts of assistance to the community during an annual Celebrate Service Day.

In 2002, the college re-articulated the values that have long been woven into the cultural fabric of the institution: We are a Christ-centered community committed to passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership.

From its beginnings, Goshen College students have always been highly invested in their education, the institution and the world around them: from 1941 when student leaders sponsored an impromptu parade at the news of the college first receiving accreditation by the North Central Association, to 2005 when the campus raised thousands of dollars for relief in response to the South Asia earthquake and tsunami. Goshen graduates take these experiences with them as they follow paths that change lives and change the world.

One of the college’s distinctive features is its Study-Service Term program, which was implemented in 1968 as a cutting-edge international education program.
A sense of vibrant connectedness to the larger world has been integral to the college since its beginnings, when three students were sent to India for volunteer efforts. And one of the college’s distinctive features is its Study-Service Term program, which was implemented in 1968 as a cutting-edge international education program and built on the experiences of faculty members who had lived, studied and served abroad. Since then, more than 6,500 students and 230 faculty members have journeyed to 19 countries significantly different than our own through the semester-long, immersion experience, which features the uncommon combination of cultural education and service-learning.

Today, more than 20,000 Goshen College alumni have been counted, residing throughout the world in more than 85 countries, and the campus has flourished from less than 50 acres to 135 acres with 18 major buildings. The college now offers 32 majors and 35 minors of academic study, with quality professional programs and facilities. In addition the co-curriculars, internships, intercollegiate athletic teams and intramurals offer students rich and balanced opportunities for personal, intellectual, spiritual, physical, social and professional growth.

Much has changed since the college’s beginnings, but the familiar sound of train whistles brings a reminder that many things remain the same. Goshen College – rooted in the Anabaptist tradition of answering Christ’s call to reconciliation, community and service in the world – is thriving as a liberal arts college pursuing exceptional academic inquiry. With alignment of our core values and strategic plan with board of directors and presidential leadership, Goshen College is particularly poised to flourish in its second century.

Here are some interesting articles that have been written about events in Goshen College's history:

One remarkable year: 1903-1904

Goshen College's history as told by Susan Fisher Miller '79, titled, One remarkable year: 1903-1904, from the "Celebrating 100 Years in Goshen, Indiana" July 2003 issue of the Bulletin (several photos with detailed captions). Read full story

Cow in the Science Hall: Get the scoop on legendary GC pranks

In the U.S., a widely known and practiced college prank is to take a cow to the top floor of some building and release it there – but it is especially popular in areas like Goshen, where cows have always been readily available.
Read full story