Roberts Wesleyan University
Former names
Chili Seminary (1866–1885)
A.M. Chesbrough Seminary (1885–1945)
Roberts Junior College (1945–1949)
Roberts Wesleyan College (1949–2022)
MottoEducation for Character [1]
TypePrivate university
Established1866; 158 years ago (1866)
Religious affiliation
Free Methodist Church
Academic affiliations
Endowment$33.9 million (2020)[3]
PresidentRupert A. Hayles, Jr.[4]
Location, ,
United States
ColorsRed, white, and black    
Sporting affiliations
MascotReggie the Redhawk

Roberts Wesleyan University is a private Christian university in Chili, New York anchored in the liberal arts. It was the first educational institution established for Free Methodists in North America. Roberts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Roberts Wesleyan enrolled 1621 students in the fall of 2023 in undergraduate, graduate, adult degree completion and doctoral programs. It offers over 100 programs.


Roberts Wesleyan University 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.[5]

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.[6] Cox Hall was used as both class rooms and administration,[6] 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.[7]

Carpenter Hall was opened in 1935. It was named for Adella P. Carpenter who had taught at the school from 1877 to 1916.[6] 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, Northeastern Seminary was established as Roberts' graduate school of theology.[8]

On September 13, 2022, it was renamed Roberts Wesleyan University after applying to the New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents.[9]

On January 26, 2023, it was announced that the 11th president Deana Porterfield would conclude her work in June, and will move on to assume the role of president at Seattle Pacific University later in 2023. In June 2023, Porterfield was succeeded by Rupert A. Hayles Jr., who will start on July 1, 2024.[4]


The Roberts Wesleyan athletic teams are called the Redhawks. Roberts is a member of the NCAA Division II ranks, primarily competing in the East Coast Conference (ECC) since the 2012–13 academic year. They are also a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), primarily competing as an independent in the Midwest Region at the Division I level. The Redhawks previously competed in the defunct American Mideast Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 2001–02 to 2011–12 (when the conference dissolved).

Roberts Wesleyan competes in 19 intercollegiate varsity sports. Men's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, volleyball and track & field (indoor and outdoor); women's sports include basketball, bowling, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball. Four sports will be added in 2023–24: women's field hockey and triathlon, men's volleyball, and the coeducational and non-NCAA esports.

Move to Division II

In July 2011, Roberts was accepted into the NCAA Division II reclassification process from the NAIA to the NCAA.[10] Roberts became a full member of NCAA Division II for the 2014–15 academic year.[10] Roberts Wesleyan University is the first NCAA Division II school in the Greater Rochester Region.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "Office of the President". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  2. ^ "NAICU - Membership". Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b As of June 16, 2023. Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary Name Dr. Rupert A. Hayles Jr. Next President (Report). June 16, 2023. Retrieved June 22, 2023.
  5. ^ Chesbronian 1942, Students of 1942. Chesbrough Seminary. 1942. pp. 58.
  6. ^ a b c Chesbronian 1942, Students of 1942. Chesbrough Seminary. 1942. pp. 60, 62–63.
  7. ^ Chesbronian 1942, Students of 1942. Chesbrough Seminary. 1942. pp. 61.
  8. ^ "Northeastern Seminary | Theological Seminary | Ministry Education". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  9. ^ "Roberts Wesleyan College Becomes Roberts Wesleyan University". Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Bradley, Steve (July 13, 2011). "Roberts Wesleyan moving up to Division II athletics". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  11. ^ "Ambassador | Embassy of the United States Singapore". August 21, 2014. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  12. ^ "Jenn Suhr '04 Sets World Indoor Pole Vault Record". Roberts Wesleyan University. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  13. ^ "Daniel Bennett brings 'Brian Wilson jazz' back home". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved May 21, 2019.

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