Nyack College was opened during the late 19th century in the years when immigrant families were flooding New York City. Dr. A. B. Simpson, a Presbyterian pastor known for enterprising ideas, believed men and women of all races and all nations needed to be prepared for service and ministry, and so he launched an “Institute” which eventually moved from Manhattan to the Village of Nyack north of New York City.
In 1996, what had by then become Nyack College returned to Manhattan. That campus now occupies unique space in Battery Park – strategically situated in the shadow of Ground Zero, looking out to the Statue of Liberty, within sound of Wall Street’s opening bell.
Nyack College was founded by one of the foremost figures in the 19th and early 20th Century American missionary movement. Dr. A.B. Simpson envisioned a school that would bring together students of every “class and race” putting “the rich and the poor side-by-side.” Having imagined it, Simpson created it.
Simpson’s first class met on the stage of a theater on New York City’s 23rd Street. The equipment – a few benches and tables – was meager indeed. But present from the beginning were the key ingredients to education: stimulating teachers and eager pupils. In May of 1884, a handful of students (black and white, male and female) became the first graduating class.
After a decade of growth, Dr. Simpson noted that “for many years our workers have felt the need of a spiritual center for our work near enough to the city to afford a resting place for our city people who cannot afford to go to the most distant resorts.” Simpson’s Missionary Training Institute, a blend of then-popular camp and college, headed north to the Village of Nyack where opening exercises of were held in a new building on October 24, 1897.
After a century of growth and service, in 1995 Nyack College returned to its roots when it established a satellite program in lower Manhattan. By 1997, Alliance Theological Seminary – an enduring part of Nyack College – classes were offered there as well. Within a few years, Nyack’s presence was being noted not only in Manhattan but throughout the City’s boroughs.
The goal of the New York City campus is to make studies accessible to those who live and/or work in the city, and to provide a thoroughly urban context for a top-flight academic, spiritually-centered education. Today Nyack’s Manhattan campus is the setting for dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs, a full-fledged seminary, and the rudiments from which the college will soon become a university.
Unique both in calling and in character, Nyack College continues to fulfill the vision of its Founder, A. B. Simpson, by offering traditional and non-traditional undergraduate and graduate programs through a City-based, co-educational, ethnically diverse student body, faculty and staff.
We are entering a future of intense global urbanization. Ethnic, religious, economic and cultural differences will distinguish but no longer separate us physically or geographically from others – a future is already present in New York City.
By the time students now entering college are midway through their careers, three-quarters of the world’s people will live in mega-cities with populations of more than 20 million. Institutions that welcome diverse cultures and speak multiple languages will become dominant. Cooperation across every human boundary will be imperative. We will live, or we will die, in communities of intimate difference.
Explosive growth of charismatic Christianity, especially in the Global South (Africa, China, India, Latin and South America), is already the world’s largest religious movement. It values religious experience over religious dogma, the equality of women, and the urgency of engaging human suffering with a prophetic call to justice while diminishing the sway of Western Christianity. And it is immigrating to New York City.
Manhattan is the center of the world’s economy (Wall Street), host to the world’s governments (United Nations), teeming with creative energy from Harlem to Broadway, reporting on world events through the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and networks now including Al Jazeera. In 1997, after a century in a nearby town from which it drew its name, Nyack came home to Manhattan, replanting itself in the global future.
With its faculty and staff already 50% women and minorities, its student body representing 60 nations and scores of faith traditions – Nyack is uniquely positioned to equip global leaders. It lives on the border of Ground Zero, a stone’s throw from Wall Street, within sight of Ellis Island. When students come to Nyack’s Manhattan campus, they come through the power and the brokenness.
This is where Nyack College will soon become Nyack University. This is where it demonstrates the power of love in action, and where it leads from the global future’s American home: New York City.
Nyack College will soon become Nyack University, an uncommonly diverse community rooted in the love of God and of our neighbors. Some community members will be American-born. But immigrants, the children of immigrants, “adult” and “non-traditional students” will constitute the majority of new members in our community.
In this community, all will be learners – faculty, staff, students and friends. All who join the community will be teachers. Learning in this University will be a whole-life experience blending the rich inherited traditions with the urgent need for action in a world crying to be healed.
We will reject the safety of isolation to embrace the City that is our home. Our testimony to the Gospel will be most evident in our rigorous commitment to love our neighbors, not judge them; to serve, not to oppose.
The University will equip leaders for every human enterprise, enabling us to bring hope to the hopeless, demonstrate purpose to the purposeless, and give voice to those silenced by oppression.
Ours will be a community that invites partnerships with institutions whose missions align with our own. We will be unashamed of our vigorous search to instill love in our relationships and learning, our research and service, our partnerships and our graduates.
We will strive to understand the world in all its richness, revealed through science and the Scriptures, so we may better love the world as God has taught us to love.
LIST OF DEPARTMENTS
Nyack College exhibits, and Nyack University will embody, a set of historically ingrained values
that give testimony to our character, including Love, Truth, Humility, Faith and Community.
Alliance Theological Seminary
College of Arts and Sciences
School of Music - Rockland
Division of Adult Education
School of Education