Montreat College

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Montreat College
PresidentDr. Paul Maurer
Location, ,
United States
CampusRural, 43 acres

Montreat College is a private Christian liberal arts college in Montreat, North Carolina. Montreat College (AGS) has three campuses for adults, professionals, and graduate students in additional sites in North Carolina and online. The School of Adult and Graduate Studies has campus locations in Asheville, Charlotte, and Morganton.


In 1897 Congregationalist minister John C. Collins, from New Haven, Connecticut, joined with a number of like-minded associates from other denominations, including evangelist Weston R. Gales, to form the Mountain Retreat Association.[1] "The corporation was not owned by one denomination but it was interdenominational in its makeup without church connection or control. The original Montreat idea has changed, grown and developed into what now is. Its name was derived from the words 'Mountain Retreat.'" [2]

The original organization stated its purpose as follows: "…to establish and maintain in the mountain section of North Carolina, a municipality containing assembly grounds for the encouragement of Christian work and living through Christian convention, public worship, missionary work, schools, libraries, orphan homes, manual and trades training and other operations auxiliary and incidental thereto; also a community and health resort with places for dwellings, permanently and temporarily, for health, rest, recreation, Christian work and fellowship, together with whatever may be connected therewith, directly or incidentally." [3]

Today the name Montreat is used for at least three different entities including Montreat College. The original Mountain Retreat Association was adapted as a Presbyterian conference center fewer than ten years after its founding. J. R. Howerton of Charlotte, North Carolina, purchased Montreat for use by the Presbyterian Church in the United States (also known informally as the Southern Presbyterian Church).

In 1913, Dr. Robert C. Anderson, then 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, an Ad Interim Committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. reported: "1. We have made a careful examination of the Montreat property, and believe that it could be made suitable for school purposes by installing heating facilities and adding up-to-date school equipment. In this way provision could easily be made for 350 to 400 pupils. 2. We have carefully considered the various schools within the bounds of our General Assembly and under the control of the various Synods and Presbyteries, and we believe that one need of our ecclesiastical school system is a Christian Normal School for Teachers. We believe that Montreat is well located and adapted for a school of this nature." [4]

Montreat Normal School opened in October 1916. Anderson served as the first president. According to the Asheville Citizen, the school's purpose, in addition to training girls for teaching careers, was "to give Christian education to worthy girls of junior college and high school age who desire education and whose character and purpose assure the best use of it."[5]

Having been granted a charter by the State of North Carolina in January 1917, the Mountain Retreat Association 'Managing Committee' voted in July of that year to provide buildings, grounds and equipment to the school for eight months per year. The school was to be responsible for paying for the utilities it used and for ordinary repairs.[6]

In this way the predecessor to Montreat College was created as a part of the Mountain Retreat Association to make year-round use of the facilities previously used only for summer conferences. But from the beginning, "the accounts of the Mountain Retreat Association and Montreat College were kept separate. No money was ever transferred from one to the other." [7]

In 1934 Montreat College became a junior college. Later, the college offered a four-year curriculum. By the late 1950s, it reverted to junior college status.[5]

The Town of Montreat was founded in 1967 after the Mountain Retreat Association chose to give up maintaining the infrastructure of the retreat center. The Board of Directors voluntarily agreed to surrender "all municipal powers and functions and permit Montreat to be governed by the laws of Buncombe County and the State of North Carolina." [8]

Among the school's benefactors over the years were evangelist Dr. Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Graham, who lived in the community. They were actively involved with the school's students for many years. During a time when the school's identity was being defined, the Grahams gave a total of $150,000 over a period of three years.[9]

In 1962 Rev. Calvin Thielman, who had been living in Montreat for some time as a Special Assistant to Billy Graham, was called as Pastor of the Montreat Presbyterian Church. At the same time, he served as the first chaplain to students at Montreat-Anderson College.[10] He held both of these jobs until 1992, when Ed Bonner was called as college chaplain. Thielman continued as Pastor of the Church until his retirement in 1995.

In 1975 the college and the Mountain Retreat Association conference center formed two separate organizations: Dr. Vaughn served as College President and Monroe Ashley, a Baptist minister who had done extensive work in camp and conference ministry, served as the President of the Mountain Retreat Association.[11]

In the 1980s, Montreat was expanded again to offer a four-year curriculum. Later it also offered graduate programs. In the 1990s, it expanded the number of sites where it offered classes, in addition to offerings online.[5]

After the Great Recession of 2008, Montreat College had financial problems. In 2013, it considered a merger with Point University. This idea was later dropped.[5]

In March 2014, after a $6 million anonymous gift, trustees decided to raise money and hire a new president. Dr. Paul J. Maurer took office the next summer.[5]


  • Dr. Robert Campbell Anderson (1916–1947)
  • Dr. J. Rupert McGregor (1947–1957)
  • Dr. Calvin Grier Davis (1959–1972)
  • Dr. Silas M. Vaughn (1972–1991)
  • William W. Hurt (1991–2002)
  • Dr. John S. Lindberg (2002–2003)
  • Dr. Dan Struble (2004–2013)
  • Dr. Paul Maurer (2014 to present)


Many of the older buildings are constructed of stone. In the early days Emilie Miller Vaughan described it thus: "I wish I could tell you of the scenery around here & at the retreat. People who have travelled say it is only equalled by Switzerland" [12]

Academic profile[edit]

Montreat College's traditional program attracts more than 450 students who seek a Christ-centered liberal arts education in areas of study that range from Business Administration and Bible and Religion, to Environmental Studies, Outdoor Education and Music Business. It has 19 majors, and 48 minors and concentrations.

The School of Adult and Graduate Studies began offering classes on September 19, 1994. With online programs and physical campuses in Asheville, Charlotte, and Morganton, the college seeks to serve adults in the work force, or who are retired, who want to earn a college degree, as well as those who want to expand their horizons. 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. This accreditation was reaffirmed in December 2012.

Student life[edit]

As of the fall of 2015, Montreat's traditional campus student body consists of 461 undergraduate students. The School of Adult and Graduate Studies consists of 463 adult undergraduate, graduate, and online students.


Montreat College athletic teams, nicknamed athletically as the Cavaliers, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Montreat College is featured in the 2009 novel One Second After and its sequel One Year After, written by William R. Forstchen. He is a Professor of History and Faculty Fellow there.
  • Former basketball player and author Allen Jones attended Montreat Junior College between 1970-1971 and writes about his experience at the school in his 2009 memoir The Rat That Got Away.[13][14]

Notable people[edit]

Sammy Stewart was a member of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team that won the World Series in 1983. Filmmaker and educator Brian Fuller won a regional Emmy Award in 1992 for his experimental dance film, Falloff.


  1. ^ C. A. Rowland, The Genesis of Montreat, (Athens, GA: Charles Alden Rowland, 1952), page 2
  2. ^ Robert C. Anderson, The Story of Montreat from Its Beginning, 1897-1947, page 2
  3. ^ Anderson, The Story of Montreat, p. 3
  4. ^ Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1915), page 168
  5. ^ a b c d e Ball, Julie (April 28, 2016). "After 'near death,' Montreat College celebrates milestone". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  6. ^ Minutes of the Managing Committee of the Mountain Retreat Association, dated July 13, 1917, page 179
  7. ^ Anderson, The Story of Montreat (1949), pp. 34-35
  8. ^ C. Grier Davis, Montreat: A Retreat for Renewal, 1947-1972 (Kingsport, TN: Arcata Graphics, 1986) pages 1-2
  9. ^ Davis, Calvin Grier, Montreat: A Retreat For Renewal: 1947-1972. Arcata Graphics: Kingsport, TN, 1986, p. 132
  10. ^ Maxwell, Elizabeth, A Flowing Stream: An Informal History of Montreat. Alexander, NC: WorldComm, 1997, p. 160.
  11. ^ Maxwell (1997), A Flowing Stream, p. 109
  12. ^ Vaughan, Emilie Miller, Mother Pioneered at Montreat: Her Letters 1898-1899. Ithaca, NY: Emilie Miller Vaughan, 1972.
  13. ^ Jones, Allen with Mark Naison (2009). The Rat That Got Away. New York: Fordham University Press. pp. 128–145. ISBN 978-0-8232-3102-7.
  14. ^ Dolnick, Sam. "Allen Jones, Once a Drug Dealer, Returns to the Patterson Houses". Retrieved 2018-11-18.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°38′46″N 82°17′51″W / 35.6461°N 82.2974°W / 35.6461; -82.2974