Gordon College (Massachusetts)

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This article is about the private college in Massachusetts. For other institutions of higher education, see Gordon College (disambiguation).
Gordon College
Seal of Gordon College
Established 1889
Type Private
Religious affiliation Non-denominational
Endowment $27,059,080
President D. Michael Lindsay
Provost Janel Curry
Students 2,109
Undergraduates 1,707
Postgraduates 402
Location Wenham, Massachusetts, United States
42°35′23″N 70°49′22″W / 42.589780°N 70.822880°W / 42.589780; -70.822880Coordinates: 42°35′23″N 70°49′22″W / 42.589780°N 70.822880°W / 42.589780; -70.822880
Campus Rural
Former names Boston Missionary Training Institute (1889-1891), Boston Missionary Training School (1891-1895), Gordon Missionary Training School (1895-1916), Gordon Bible College (1916-21), Gordon College of Theology and Missions (1921-1962), Gordon College and Divinity School (1962-1970), "Gordon College"
Colors Navy blue and white         
Athletics ECAC, NCAA (TCCC)
Sports Baseball, basketball, cross-country, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor), and volleyball
Nickname Fighting Scots
Mascot Scottish Lion Rampant
Affiliations Annapolis Group, CCCU, CCC, NEASC
Website www.gordon.edu

Gordon College is a liberal arts college located in Wenham, Massachusetts, United States, north of Boston, Massachusetts. Gordon College offers 38 majors, 42 concentrations and 11 interdisciplinary and pre-professional minors with an undergraduate student enrollment of 1,700 students. Gordon is a nondenominational Christian liberal arts college, where faith and learning are integral. In 1996, the College began a graduate program in education and in 2003 added a graduate program in music education.

Founded by Adoniram Judson Gordon, the school began as the Boston Missionary Training Institute in 1889 in the City of Boston. In 1948 the school was designated as a college of liberal arts. In 1955, Gordon College and Divinity School relocated north of the city to the former Princemere estate in Wenham. In 1970, the Divinity School separated from the College and merged with the Conwell School of Theology, which had separated from Temple University, forming Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts, for professional pastoral study and theological degrees. The separation of the Divinity School from the College allowed Gordon to expand as a liberal arts college with a broad range of academic offerings. Gordon College is the only non-denominational Christian liberal arts college in the New England region.


In 1889 Adoniram Judson Gordon founded the Boston Missionary Training Institute at the Clarendon Street Baptist Church[1] to train Christian missionaries for work in what was then the Belgian Congo.[2] Progressive at its inception in 1889, the school admitted both men and women of various ethnicities. It was renamed Gordon Bible College in 1916[1] and expanded to Newton Theological Institution facilities along the Fenway, into a facility donated by Martha Frost in 1919. Frost, a widowed Bostonian with several properties in the city, provided a significant philanthropic gift.[3] In 1921, the school was renamed Gordon College of Theology and Missions.[1]

In the early 1950s, a Gordon student named James Higginbotham approached Frederick H. Prince about selling his 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) estate to the College after learning of recent property viewings by the United Nations and Harvard University. In 1955, Gordon developed into a liberal arts college with a graduate seminary and moved to its present several-hundred-acre Wenham campus.[3] Gordon sold its old facilities on Evans Way to the Wentworth Institute of Technology. The Prince Memorial Chapel on the new campus (since replaced) was named for Frederick Prince, and Prince's mansion was renamed Frost Hall after Martha Frost.

In 1958, Gordon College instituted a Core Curriculum and during that decade launched its first study abroad program, European Seminar.

In 1962, the school changed its name again to Gordon College and Divinity School.[1] In 1970, the Gordon Divinity School separated from the College and merged with the Conwell School of Theology, once part of Temple University, to form the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts.[3]

Barrington College, founded in 1900 as the Bethel Bible Institute in Spencer, Massachusetts, later relocated to Dudley, Massachusetts, and then to Providence, Rhode Island. It took the name Barrington after the campus was moved to Barrington, Rhode Island, in 1959. Barrington merged with Gordon College in 1985, forming the United College of Gordon and Barrington.

Academic associations[edit]

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) has accredited Gordon since 1961.[4] The music program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognizes Gordon College's teacher-education program under the Interstate Service Compact.[5] Gordon is a member of the Annapolis Group and of the Christian College Consortium. It is also a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).


Jenks Library

Gordon College offers the BA, BM, BS, MEd, and MMEd degrees.[5] It offers undergraduate degrees from 38 majors, 42 concentrations and 15 interdisciplinary and preprofessional minors.[6] Gordon offers both a graduate degree in education and music. The Graduate Education program offers the MEd degree. The Graduate Music program offers an MMEd degree, licensure-only options, and workshops.[7]

Student life[edit]

There were a total of 2,109 students enrolled at Gordon College in 2013, of whom 1,707 were undergraduates.[8]

Student body and demographics[edit]

Frost Hall

Gordon is a Christian multidenominational college. Students are required to sign the school's Statement of Faith,[9] though the religious conclusions and commitments among students and faculty remain diverse. Students must also sign a Life and Conduct Statement agreeing to the standards of behavior that Gordon values. Gordon College prohibits alcohol, tobacco, and narcotic or hallucinogenic drugs on campus[10] and continues to uphold a dorm visitation policy that allows for male-female visitation only during particular hours.[11] Chapel services are held on Mondays and Wednesdays, and an academic convocation takes place on Fridays; attendance of chapel, convocation or other events (lectures, debates, presentations, films, exhibitions, etc.) is required to graduate. All full-time students must obtain 30 "Christian Life and Worship Credits" per semester. This policy is strictly enforced. Students who do not meet the requirement for one semester will be placed on academic probation, and a second semester of non-compliance will result in suspension from the college.[12]

In the fall of 2013, the College’s undergraduate enrollment of 1,707 was drawn from 43 states and 41 foreign countries. Approximately 22 percent of enrollment—including international students—were of Asian, African American, Hispanic, Native American, or other non-Caucasian descent.


Gordon College has a student association, student ministries, intramural sports, and a Campus Events Council. There are student-led community service and outreach organizations ranging from drama troupes to Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity.

Many other Gordon College outreach programs are based at other sites, such as Lynn, Massachusetts, where the school has more than 30 partners for community development. Several student-led groups organize spring break, winter break and summer break community service trips and mission trips to different sites around the country and the globe.


Gordon College's varsity sports compete in the NCAA Division III, primarily in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (TCCC) and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). The Gordon College teams, known athletically as the Fighting Scots, sponsor baseball, basketball, cross-country, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, and track & field (indoor and outdoor).

Fighting Scots Basketball[edit]

Head coach Tod Murphy has led the Fighting Scots to 5 Commonwealth Coast Conference appearances in his 5 years of coaching at Gordon College.[13] One of these five years he led the team to an NCAA conference appearance.[14]


A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel
in Wenham, Massachusetts


In 2007, Gordon College dedicated its 450-acre campus property in the name of benefactors Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler following an unrestricted endowment promise of $60 million from their estate, which the College would receive at an undetermined future date. In 2007 the Gordon endowment was $33 million. The Fowler gift (once received) is projected to triple that current endowment for Gordon College. The Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler Campus at Gordon College is minutes away from the beaches of Massachusetts's North Shore and 25 miles north of Boston. The campus is situated on 450 acres (180 ha) of wooded property.

The Gordon College Bennett Center is a 78,000 square feet (7,200 m2) athletics and recreational sports facility. The Bennett Center is a gift to the Gordon community from the George and Helen Bennett family. The $8 million center was completed in October 1996 and in 1997 won the Athletics Business Magazine Top Ten New Facilities Award for its design and usability.

The Ken Olsen Science Center, named for the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation and long-time Gordon College Board member, Ken Olsen, is an 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) science and technology center at the heart of the campus.

Gordon IN[edit]

The semester-long "IN" programs developed by the Global Education Office are intended to be more than “trips” that allow students to treat the host culture as something to be “sampled” or “consumed.”

Gordon IN Aix is a semester-long program offered both Fall and Spring (as numbers warrant), with a year-long option for advanced students of French. The program provides an immersion experience in French language and culture in the heart of southern France, with a particular thematic focus on the challenges facing the contemporary Christian church in a largely post-Christian Europe. Gordon IN Aix continues its longstanding collaboration with the Institut d'études de français pour étudiants étrangers (a sector of the University of Aix-Marseille), and enjoys close association with the John Calvin Seminary—one of only two seminaries in the tradition of French Protestantism.

The Gordon IN Orvieto semester program aims to foster an attitude of responsive looking and listening for signs of new life in the traditions inhabited by artists, poets, saints, and mystics of the past, especially those of pre-modern Europe in Italy.

Gordon IN Lynn (GIL), a service-learning program, is a partnership between Gordon College and the neighboring city of Lynn. Through relationships with various community organizations in Lynn, students can engage, learn and serve in a diverse, urban community.

Discrimination controversy[edit]

On July 1, 2014, Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay was one of 14 leaders of religious and civic organizations who sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama about an executive order he was contemplating that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.[15] They asked him to include language that would exempt religious organizations from the executive order's requirements, suggesting he "find a way to respect diversity of opinion ... in a way that respects the dignity of all parties". They suggested the exemption be based on language the U.S. Senate had recently added as an amendment to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).[16][17] Obama did not use the ENDA amendment's language when he issued his order on July 21, but left in place a narrower exemption established with respect to federal contractors in 2002 by President George W. Bush's Executive Order 13279.[18]

In response, on July 9, Salem, Massachusetts, Mayor Kimberley Driscoll ended Gordon College's contract to manage and maintain the city's Old Town Hall, citing a city ordinance that prohibits Salem from contracting with entities that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.[19] Gordon's contract with the city would otherwise have expired on September 1.[20] In August, for similar reasons, the Lynn Public School's ended its relationship with the College, which had provided students to work without pay in the schools as part their training toward degrees in education and social work.[21]

In late July, the Peabody Essex Museum ended its academic relationship with the Gordon's museum studies program. A museum official said: "We don't want to do anything that hurts the college or hurts their museum studies program. It's just as simple as not being able to collaborate with an institution whose core values conflict with our own." The museum later withdrew its support for Gordon's grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities that aimed at funding an expansion of its museum studies program.[22] In mid-September the New England Association of Schools and Colleges gave the college a year to report on how its non-discrimination policies met the organizations standards for accreditation.[23]

Conservative legal organizations have offered to represent the college in lawsuits that would argue that severing ties to the school constituted retaliation for the exercise of free speech and the practice of religion. Lindsay declined those offers and later said he would not have signed the letter had he anticipated the reaction and the impact on Gordon. The school is reviewing its code of conduct which, in addition to banning sex outside of marriage on the part of everyone at Gordon, bans "homosexual practice".[24]

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Edwin David Aponte is a cultural historian, author, Presbyterian minister, and currently Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of the Faculty, and Professor of Christianity & Culture at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana. His research and writing focuses on Latino/a religion and cultures, African American religions, as well as race, ethnicity, and religion.
  • Comedian Pete Holmes attended Gordon College, where he was a member of the campus comedy group, The Sweaty-Toothed Madmen.
  • Christian Smith, American sociologist, is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Center for Social Research at the University of Notre Dame. Smith’s research focuses primarily on religion in modernity, adolescents and emerging adults, sociological theory, philosophy of science, the science of generosity, American evangelicalism, and culture.[1] Smith is well known for his contributions to the sociology of religion, particularly his research into adolescent spirituality, as well as for his contributions to sociological theory and his advocacy of critical realism.[2][3]
  • John-Manuel Andriote, American journalist. He has written about health, medicine, politics and culture for the Washington Post and other newspapers and magazines.[1] He has specialized in reporting on HIV and AIDS beginning in 1986.
  • Roy A. Clouser, Professor Emeritus of the College of New Jersey. He has served as professor of philosophy and religion at the College since 1968.
  • James Davison Hunter, American sociologist who is currently the LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory at the University of Virginia.
  • Meredith G. Kline, (December 15, 1922 – April 14, 2007) was an American theologian and Old Testament scholar. He also had degrees in Assyriology and Egyptology.
  • George Eldon Ladd, (July 31, 1911 – 1982[1]) was a Baptist minister and professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, known for his promotion of inaugurated eschatology and "futuristic post-tribulationism."
  • Kenneth Lee Pike, (June 9, 1912 – December 31, 2000) was an American linguist and anthropologist. He was the originator of the theory of tagmemics and coiner of the terms "emic" and "etic".
  • Ralph Richardson (chancellor), (born August 2, 1940 in Moncton, New Brunswick) is the former chancellor of Atlantic Baptist University (now Crandall University) in Canada.[1][2]
  • Gary D. Schmidt, American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books and one Printz Honor award. A Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor was awarded to the book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and a Newbery Honor was awarded to The Wednesday Wars.
  • Doug Worgul, novelist, attended from 1971-72.
  • Rob Graves, Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer, double majored in pre-medical biology & theology, and graduated in 2000.[25]

Notable faculty[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d ''American universities and colleges: a dictionary of name changes'' by Alice H. Songe. Rowman & Littlefield (1978), p. 79. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  2. ^ A. J. Gordon Heritage Project at Gordon College[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c "History at Gordon College". Gordon.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  4. ^ Details on Gordon College, NEASC
  5. ^ a b "Stats and Facts". Gordon.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  6. ^ "Academics". Gordon.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  7. ^ "Christian College: Graduate Programs - Gordon College". Gordon.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  8. ^ "National Center for Education Statistics: Gordon College". Nces.ed.gov. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  9. ^ http://www.gordon.edu/page.cfm?iPageID=355&iCategoryID=32&Chapel&Statement_of_Faith
  10. ^ "Summary of Behavioural Expectations at Gordon College". Gordon.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  11. ^ "Residence Life Information and Policies". Gordon.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  12. ^ "Chapel Attendance Policy at Gordon College". Gordon.edu. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  13. ^ Men's Basketball Archives
  15. ^ "Gordon head Michael Lindsay: Letter on hiring gays 'misconstrued'". The Salem News. July 9, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  16. ^ Hirschfeld, Julie (July 8, 2014). "Faith Groups Seek Exclusion From Bias Rule". New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Letter to Obama from faith leaders". Washington Post. July 1, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  18. ^ Gibson, David (July 21, 2014). "Did Obama finally thread the needle on gay rights and religious freedom?". National Catholic Reporter. Religion News Service. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Salem nixes Gordon College contract". The Salem News. July 9, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  20. ^ Rocheleau, Matt (July 10, 2014). "Salem ends Gordon College’s use of town hall". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  21. ^ Ortega, Oliver (August 30, 2014). "Lynn public schools sever relationship with Gordon College". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  22. ^ Dempsey, Neil H. (July 25, 2014). "Peabody Essex Museum severs ties with Gordon College". Salem News. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  23. ^ Moore, Mary (September 25, 2014). "Accreditation board gives Gordon College a year to review policy on homosexuality". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  24. ^ Zoll, Rachel (November 3, 2014). "Gordon College President Was Surprised At Reaction To Anti-Gay Stance". Huffington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  25. ^ http://www.gordon.edu/article.cfm?iArticleID=346&iReferrerPageID=1676&..

External links[edit]