On April 5, 1955, the Presbytery of the Great Plains met in Wilton, North Dakota, to consider establishing a liberal arts college under the Bible Presbyterian Synod. The College was organized by the Synod and named “Covenant” by Dr. Robert G. Rayburn, the school’s first president. In the fall of 1955, the school began operation at the Pasadena City Church in Pasadena, California. Covenant was to be a Christian liberal arts college acknowledging Christ’s preeminence to help Christians learn to live as active, reforming members of a complex society.
In 1956, Covenant College moved to Creve Coeur in St. Louis County, near St. Louis, Missouri. The first property purchased in St. Louis, from Millstone Construction Company, consisted of twenty-five acres, with one building located in the center that was used for all functions.
A number of professors from Faith Theological Seminary near Philadelphia came to St. Louis, and Covenant became a four-year liberal arts college and a three-year theological seminary operated by one board and one administration.
An order of Catholic sisters at St. John’s Hospital donated a building to the College which eventually became the administration building. Both the College and the seminary increased in size, and soon a new residence hall was needed. Mr. Hugh Smith heard that the “Castle in the Clouds,” near Chattanooga, Tennessee, was for sale. After much debate, the old hotel was purchased for Covenant College in 1964. Today the College campus contains over 400 acres.
Covenant College has had six presidents: Dr. Robert G. Rayburn, Dr. Marion D. Barnes, Dr. Martin Essenburg, Dr. Frank A. Brock, Dr. Niel B. Nielson, and Dr. J. Derek Halvorson, who now serves in this capacity.
Today Covenant’s total enrollment is more than 1,100, with 46 states and 22 foreign countries represented. 92 percent of the teaching faculty members have earned doctoral or terminal degrees.
Covenant offers bachelor of arts, master of arts and master of education degrees. Several pre-professional programs are also available. Students are encouraged to develop an active Christian mind.
Covenant’s intercollegiate sports include men’s baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field, and women’s volleyball. Many intramural sports are played.
Covenant College centers its entire program in Colossians 1:18: “In all things Christ preeminent.” Christ is acknowledged as the creator of all things, as the redeemer of people fallen into sin, as the touchstone of all truth, and as the sovereign ruler over all areas of life. Covenant seeks the mind of Christ as the biblical perspective from which we view and respond to reality. Covenant seeks to define all areas of its structure and program according to this understanding of Christ’s preeminence.