Covenant College, operating under the Presbyterian Church in America, is committed to the Bible as the Word of God written and accepts as its guiding interpretation the summary contained in The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. That commitment is expressed in the college’s motto based on Colossians 1:18, “In all things Christ preeminent.”
Covenant strives to be a reformed learning community which recognizes and responds appropriately to Christ’s rule over creation and all areas of life through rigorous academic inquiry. A Covenant College education is designed to produce knowledge, skills, and values that equip students to serve effectively and live responsibly in a rapidly changing world.
Covenant offers baccalaureate degrees in liberal arts disciplines and selected pre-professional programs as well as graduate degrees in education. Covenant provides a Christ-centered education to students from a wide range of denominational, geographic, ethnic, and financial backgrounds through scholarly classroom instruction and experiential opportunities.
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 St. Louis, Missouri. The first property purchased in St. Louis, from Millstone Construction Company, consisted of 25 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 nearby 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” hotel near Chattanooga, Tennessee, was for sale. After much debate, the old hotel was purchased for Covenant College in 1964. Today the college campus contains a total of 200 acres, and Covenant Seminary remains at the original campus.
Covenant has had six presidents: Dr. Robert Rayburn, Dr. Marion Barnes, Dr. Martin Essenburg, Dr. Frank Brock, Dr. Niel Nielson, and Dr. Derek Halvorson, who began serving July, 2012.
The official purpose statement of Covenant College is included in the Appendices.