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Our History

Founded as Jamestown College in 1883, six years before North Dakota became a state, University of Jamestown has provided students with a quality education grounded in high academic, ethical, and spiritual standards for 130 years.

As early as 1880, Reverend C. B. Stevens of Fargo wrote to an associate urging that the Presbyterian Church consider Jamestown as the site for a college. In 1882, a committee was established to receive bids from communities desiring the location. Jamestown, because of its central location and natural beauty, was chosen and the institution formally located there by act of the Presbytery on Oct. 31, 1883. Samuel K. McGinnis gave 27 and one half acres for the campus itself.

On Sept. 28, 1886, Jamestown College opened its doors to the young people of Dakota Territory. The newly created college announced in the Jamestown Alert newspaper that “Jamestown College fall term opens in the North Side School House at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29. This school has full collegiate powers and will be conducted on the most modern college plan. All grades of students admitted. Expenses reasonable. The school is open to all denominations.”

By the fall of 1890, the financial distress in the entire country pressed especially hard on a young institution whose every phase of growth depended on inflowing revenue. In the spring of 1893, the doors were closed.

The next chapter in the story of Jamestown College came in 1909. Improved methods of farming, combined with adaptation to the climate and character of the soil, had brought a growing population to the state. Prosperity had made possible the development of the great interior of North Dakota, and with no college between Fargo and Missoula, Mont., a distance of 700 miles, the time had come for the rebirth of the College on the hill.

At a meeting in Bismarck during October, 1908, the Presbyterian Synod voted to reopen the institution.

In September, 1909, Dr. Barend H. Kroeze, then president of Whitworth College in Tacoma, Wash., accepted the presidency of Jamestown College at the request of the Board of Trustees. Jamestown College officially reopened its doors on Sept. 22, 1909.

On August 21, 2013, President Robert Badal announced Jamestown College has changed its name to University of Jamestown.

In 2019, University of Jamestown expanded its offerings to include accredited online programs.

Since the time of President Kroeze, University of Jamestown has grown from a fledgling “College on the Hill” to a thriving campus. The University embraces its history and traditions with pride while looking to the future with excitement. The students, alumni, faculty, staff, and all who support the College’s mission continue to strive for excellence as have generations before them and as will generations to come.


  • BH Kroeze 1909-1946
  • HJ Bell 1946-1948
  • SM George 1949-1954
  • EH Rian 1954-1960
  • JA Fisher 1960-1964
  • DJ Sillers 1965-1968
  • JL Wilson 1968-1969
  • RJ Stuckey 1969-1974
  • WS Egekvist 1974-1975
  • JN Anderson 1975-1983
  • JS Walker 1983-1998
  • JH Combee 1998-2002
  • RS Badal 2002-2018
  • PL Peterson 2018-Present
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