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Houghton University
Former names
Houghton Seminary (1883-1923)
Houghton College (1923-2022)
MottoFounded on the Rock
TypePrivate college
Established1883; 141 years ago (1883)
Religious affiliation
Wesleyan Church
Endowment$60.0 million (2020)[1]
PresidentWayne D. Lewis, Jr.
Location, ,
United States

42°25′34″N 78°09′19″W / 42.426111°N 78.155278°W / 42.426111; -78.155278
CampusRural, 1,300 acres (530 ha)
ColorsPurple and Gold   

Houghton University is a private Christian liberal arts college in Houghton, New York. Houghton was founded in 1883 by Willard J. Houghton and is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church.[3] Houghton serves roughly 1000 students and has 54 degree majors for primarily undergraduate students.


Houghton University began in 1883 as Houghton Seminary, a coeducational high school founded by Willard J. Houghton, a Wesleyan Methodist minister. In 1899, the first few college classes were offered. James S. Luckey was appointed president in 1908 and Houghton College received its provisional charter from New York in 1923.[3] A permanent charter was granted in 1927, and accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools came in 1935. Stephen Paine was appointed president in 1937. When the former Buffalo Bible Institute merged with Houghton College in 1969, the West Seneca campus was created.[4][failed verification] Wilber Dayton was appointed president in 1972 and he was succeeded by Daniel R. Chamberlain in 1976. The university initiated its first master’s degree program in 2004 and currently offers nine such degrees. Shirley Mullen was appointed president in 2006, and was succeeded by Wayne Lewis in 2023.[5] From 2012 to 2013, the university set new records of giving to the institution for two years in a row.[6] Despite this, Houghton University faced financial and enrollment challenges which led to academic budget cuts for the 2014–2015 academic year.[7][8] This led to a "strategic reallocation of resources"[9] which led to the development of several new majors including Music Industry,[10] Sports Management,[11] and Data Science.[12] Houghton was approved to become a university in July 2022.[13]


Houghton University's main campus is in the hamlet of Houghton, in Allegany County, New York, about 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Buffalo, New York and 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Rochester, New York. The 1,300 acres (5.3 km2) of campus sit on the Allegheny Plateau at roughly 1,300 feet (400 m), on the site of the former Caneadea Indian Reservation.


Houghton University grants associate and bachelor's degrees in 46 majors. The university also offers six graduate degrees, including through the Greatbatch School of Music.


Houghton University is ranked tied for #124 in National Liberal Arts Colleges in the 2020 Best Colleges rankings by U S News & World Report.[14]

First Year Honors

A distinctive First Year Honors Program is for qualified first-year students. There are two options: London Honors, and Science Honors. Previously the university offered a Contemporary Contexts program, but was replaced by London Honors in 2014. During London Honors, students spend their spring semester in London studying the development of the western world. East Meets West involves taking integrated classes during normal semester then traveling abroad during "May Term", exploring the roots of Western culture. Science Honors takes place during both first-year semesters at Houghton, involving research in recent real-world issues such as fuel-efficiency, climate change, and energy sources. The theme for 2012-13 was Global Warming and ways in which to improve Houghton's efforts in environmentalism.[15] As part of this commitment, the school has built one of the largest solar arrays in the state of New York, with a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 17, 2015.[16]

Student life

There are four traditional residence halls and four townhouses residences. Two of the traditional residence halls, Gillette Hall and Lambein Hall, are female residences. Rothenbuhler Hall and Shenawana Hall are male residences. Sophomore, Junior and senior students have the option to live in the townhouses. Houghton University is a distinctly residential campus but does allow for upper class students the opportunity to apply to live in approved off-campus housing, called Community Living Opportunities (CLOs).[17] Many organizations and clubs are available for students to join or found their own.


Houghton Highlanders
UniversityHoughton University
ConferenceEmpire 8
NCAADivision III
Athletic directorMatthew Webb
LocationHoughton, New York
Varsity teams16
Basketball arenaNielsen Center
ColorsPurple and Gold

The Houghton athletic teams are called the Highlanders. The university is a member of the Division III level of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Empire 8 Athletic Conference (a.k.a. Empire 8) since the 2012–13 academic year. The Highlanders previously competed in the defunct American Mideast Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 2001–02 to 2011–12.

Houghton competes in 17 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, field hockey, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball.


Houghton's first national champion was Kaitlin Fadden who won the 2008 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field marathon event in a time of 2:57:10. It was the first NAIA national championship, either for a team or individual, for Houghton College.

May 2012 graduate Danielle Brenon was the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field national champion in the marathon.[18]

In 2014, the University opened the Kerr-Pegula Athletic Complex thanks to a $12 million gift from 1991 graduate Kim Pegula.[19] The complex is named after Kim's father Ralph Kerr, an instructor in Houghton's Adult Education program, and her husband Terrence Pegula. Three lighted turf facilities are home to the Houghton Highlander soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey, and outdoor track. The multipurpose field house includes an eight-lane, 200-meter track and six tennis courts, offering a competition venue for the indoor track and tennis programs. It also provides dedicated practice space for outdoor sports over the winter and during inclement weather and serves as a hub of involvement for the campus and the surrounding communities of Northern Allegany County and Western New York.

Club and intramural sports

The University also offers club and intramural sports for men and women, including flag football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, and indoor soccer. Co-ed club and intramural sports are handball, water polo, and volleyball. Co-ed ultimate frisbee is also a popular sport. Club disc golf was added in 2021, and the University features two on-campus 18-hole disc golf courses.


In 2020 two Houghton alumni presented an exhibition called "We Are All Houghton" to highlight the voices of LGBTQ+ students at Houghton and their negative experiences on campus.[20] This project had a mixed reception by students and alum as some thought it was a much needed discussion, while others thought it promoted anti-biblical principles.[21]

In April 2023, Houghton fired two employees, stating in both their termination letters that one of the reasons was because they included their gender pronouns in their email signatures, which violated institutional policy forbidding the use of pronouns in signatures.[22][23]

Notable alumni

See also


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  2. ^ "About - Houghton College". Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  3. ^ a b History of Houghton. Retrieved on June 11, 2013.
  4. ^ "More than Just a Building" (PDF). Houghton Star. Vol. 101, no. 4. October 7, 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 4, 2006.
  5. ^ "Dr. Wayne D. Lewis, Jr. To Become Sixth President of Houghton University". April 28, 2021.
  6. ^ "Houghton College Sets Record Giving, Second Year Running" (Press release). Houghton College. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  7. ^ Hutchinson, Sarah. "College Announces Significant Academic Budget Cuts for 2014–2015". Houghton Star. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  8. ^ "Private colleges remain under the weather". December 9, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  9. ^ "Houghton Announces Strategic Realignment of Academic Programs". Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  10. ^ Johnson, Laura. "New Music Industry Major". Houghton Star. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  11. ^ "Houghton Gets Approval to Offer B.S. in Sport, Recreation and Wellness Management". Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  12. ^ Lauer, Luke. "Houghton First in Nation to Offer Liberal Arts Data Science Class". Houghton Star. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  13. ^ "The Wesleyan Church's Oldest Established College Becomes Houghton University". July 11, 2022. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  14. ^ "Houghton College". U.S. News & World Report L.P. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  15. ^ Houghton College: Prospective Students Website – Academics – Honors Program. Retrieved on January 11, 2012.
  16. ^ "Solar Array Ribbon Cutting & Tour". Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  17. ^ "Residence Life - College Residences". Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  18. ^ "Brenon '12 is Running the Distance". Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  19. ^ "News Archive". Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  20. ^ Coon, Amy; Duttweiler, Joshua. "We Are All Houghton". Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  21. ^ "We Are All Houghton Project Challenges School to Listen to Past and Present LGBTQ+ Experiences at Houghton". Houghton STAR.
  22. ^ Zahneis, Megan (April 27, 2023). "They Put Their Pronouns in Their Email Signatures. Then the University Dismissed Them". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  23. ^ Bekiempis, Victoria (May 20, 2023). "New York Christian university fires two staff for including pronouns in emails – reports". The Guardian. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  24. ^ "Staff Profile: Professor Robert Beckford". Canterbury Christ Church University. Archived from the original on August 21, 2016.
  25. ^ The Bruce Medalists, Ira S. Bowen, 1957
  26. ^ "Mrs. Nora Smith Services Tuesday". Atlanta Constitution. July 19, 1971. p. 22B. Retrieved July 6, 2020 – via