Roberts Wesleyan College
Roberts Wesleyan College logo - 2016.png
Former names
Chili Seminary, A.M. Chesbrough Seminary, Roberts Junior College
MottoEducation for Character [1]
Established1866; 156 years ago (1866)
Religious affiliation
Free Methodist Church
Endowment$33.9 million (2020)[2]
PresidentDeana Porterfield
Location, ,
United States
Sporting affiliations
MascotReggie the Redhawk

Roberts Wesleyan College is a private Christian liberal arts college in Rochester, New York. It was the first educational institution established for Free Methodists in North America. Roberts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, is a member of the Association of Colleges and Universities of the State of New York,[4] the Rochester Area Colleges, the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC),[5] and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).[6]

Northeastern Seminary (NES) is a graduate school of theology located on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College. Northeastern has been fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada since 2003.[7] It is also accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education[8] and approved by the New York State Board of Regents University of the State of New York.[9]


Roberts Wesleyan College was originally established as Chili Seminary by Benjamin Titus Roberts in 1866. Roberts was a social activist who opposed slavery and oppression of the poor, and was a supporter of women's right to vote. He began the school to train young people to become servant leaders with high moral character. Having first used a local tavern as a school, in 1869 a three story brick building was erected. There were 56 students total that year.[10]

In 1885, its name changed to Chesbrough Seminary in response to the $30,000 gift of benefactor A.M. Chesbrough.

In the fall of 1892 both Cox Hall and Roberts Hall were completed.[11] Cox Hall was used as both class rooms and administration,[11] and now houses the Department of Music and Performing Arts. The first public event held in Cox Hall was founder B.T. Roberts' funeral in 1893. Students laid a sidewalk between Cox and Roberts Hall in 1929.[12]

Carpenter Hall was opened in 1935. It was named for Miss Adella P. Carpenter who had taught at the school from 1877 to 1916.[11] Carpenter Hall has housed many important pieces of the campus, including the dining hall, library, and dorms. The building currently houses the Art, Social Work, and Psychology Departments.

In 1945, it was renamed Roberts Junior College in honor of B.T. Roberts, the founder of both the college and the Free Methodist Church. Four years later, it was renamed as Roberts Wesleyan College to indicate the transition to a four-year baccalaureate institution and to root itself clearly within the Wesleyan theological tradition.

In 1998, Roberts Wesleyan College established Northeastern Seminary[13] as its graduate school of theology.


Roberts Wesleyan College has undergraduate (60+), graduate (13) and adult degree-completion (5) programs. The college also has a doctoral program in Clinical & School Psychology. At Northeastern Seminary, students can complete a Master of Arts in Theology, Master of Divinity, Doctor of Ministry degree, and several certificate programs.


Roberts Wesleyan College soccer players
Roberts Wesleyan College soccer players

Roberts Wesleyan athletic teams are the Redhawks. The college is a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); primarily competing in the East Coast Conference (ECC) since the 2012–13 academic year; as well as a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). The Redhawks previously competed in American Mideast Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 2001–02 to 2011–12.

Roberts Wesleyan competes in 16 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving and track & field (indoor and outdoor); while women's sports include basketball, bowling, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball.

Move to Division II

In July 2011, the college was accepted into the NCAA Division II reclassification process from the NAIA to the NCAA.[14] Roberts became a full member of NCAA Division II for the 2014–15 academic year.[14] Roberts Wesleyan College is the first NCAA Division II school in the Greater Rochester Region.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "Office of the President". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "NAICU - Membership". Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  4. ^ "Association of Colleges and Universities of the State of New York". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  5. ^ "The Council of Independent Colleges – Advancing Independent Higher Education and its Leadership". The Council of Independent Colleges. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  6. ^ "CCCU Member Detail". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  7. ^ "Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College". The Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  8. ^ "". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  9. ^ "New York State Education Department".
  10. ^ Chesbronian 1942, Students of 1942. Chesbrough Seminary. 1942. pp. 58.
  11. ^ a b c Chesbronian 1942, Students of 1942. Chesbrough Seminary. 1942. pp. 60, 62–63.
  12. ^ Chesbronian 1942, Students of 1942. Chesbrough Seminary. 1942. pp. 61.
  13. ^ "Northeastern Seminary | Theological Seminary | Ministry Education". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Bradley, Steve (July 13, 2011). "Roberts Wesleyan moving up to Division II athletics". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  15. ^ "Ambassador | Embassy of the United States Singapore". August 21, 2014. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  16. ^ "Jenn Suhr '04 Sets World Indoor Pole Vault Record". Roberts Wesleyan College. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  17. ^ "Daniel Bennett brings 'Brian Wilson jazz' back home". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved May 21, 2019.

Coordinates: 43°07′33″N 77°47′55″W / 43.125743°N 77.798530°W / 43.125743; -77.798530