Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

American College & University Founders

« Back to Projects Dashboard

view all


  • Dr James Archibald Campbell (1862 - 1934)
    James Archibald Campbell (January 13, 1862 – March 18, 1934) founded Campbell University (originally Buies Creek Academy) in Buies Creek, North Carolina in 1887. Campbell was the father of Dr....
  • Rev. Robert Laban "R.L." Abernethy (1822 - 1894)
    President Robert Laban Abernethy (1822-1894) Founder of Owl Hollow School in Burke County, N.C. (a.k.a. Happy Home Academy), later named Rutherford Academy, Rutherford Seminary, and, finally, Ruthe...
  • Colonel John T. L. Preston (CSA) (1811 - 1890)
    Educator. He was the founder of the Virginia Military Institute in 1839 and one of its first professors. The Preston library at VMI is named for him. His wife, Margaret Junkin Preston is the famed "P...
  • William Stanley West, U.S. Senator (1849 - 1914)
    William Stanley West (August 23, 1849 – December 22, 1914) was a United States Senator from the state of Georgia. He was a Democrat. Biography West was born in Buena Vista, Georgia on Augu...
  • Abbie Park Ferguson (1837 - 1919)
    Abbie Park Ferguson (April 4, 1837, Whately, Massachusetts - March 25, 1919) was founder and president of Huguenot College. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College (then Mount Holyoke Female Sem...

This project aims to gather together all of the Geni profiles of people who directly founded American colleges and universities. Anyone who solely founded an institution can be added.

Who Is a Founder?

Please read this section carefully before adding anyone to this project. Thanks!

A specific founder is usually listed on the "History" page of any major college or university's website. In many cases, an institution may have been founded by a small group of trustees or governors. Right now, we are most interested in the primary founders. (For example, while a small group of men founded Yale University, Rev. James Pierpont is universally considered the primary founder.)

If you have any questions about whether an individual is a founder, please feel free to use the Discussions area of this project.

Please note: Being the namesake, benefactor, or first president of an institution does NOT automatically mean having founded it. Many colleges named for people were not founded by those people. Harvard, for example, was founded by the Massachusetts legislature and not by John Harvard.

List of Founders (Alphabetical by College)

NOTE: Founders not in bold need to be added. If you collaborate on those profiles, please add them and then embolden their name. Thank you!





















About This Project

This project was started in May 2011 by Ashley, a member of the History of Education Society. Feel free to contact her with any questions -- or, better yet, use the Discussions area to connect with all collaborators!