William Tennent Society
William Tennent (1673–1746), born and ordained in Ireland and pastor of Presbyterian congregations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, established in 1726 the “Log College” (forerunner of the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University) for the training of candidates for the Gospel ministry. In 1943, the Tennent College of Christian Education was moved from Philadelphia to Princeton. The Seminary’s Tennent Campus now houses the School of Christian Education.
Archibald Alexander Society
Archibald Alexander (1772–1851) was appointed by the General Assembly as the first professor of the Seminary in 1812. A native of Virginia, he had been the pastor of the Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, moderator of the General Assembly, and president of Hampden-Sydney College. For nearly forty years, he taught Bible and both systematic and pastoral theology. The Seminary’s first building, Alexander Hall, completed in 1817 to house a dormitory, library, refectory, lecture hall, and chapel, was named in his honor.
Samuel Miller Society
Samuel Miller (1769–1850) was called to the Seminary as its second professor in 1813. He taught church history and government. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania, he previously had served as the pastor of the Wall Street Presbyterian Church in New York City. He was one of the first American historians and published a highly regarded history of eighteenth-century America. He was a moderator of the General Assembly, an early leader in the anti-slavery movement, and a founder of the New York Bible Society and the New York Historical Society. Because he was a most gifted preacher, the chapel, built in 1834, was named in his honor.
Charles Hodge Society
Charles Hodge (1797–1878) was a graduate of the College of New Jersey and Princeton Seminary. Archibald Alexander chose him to be the Seminary’s third professor. He was an active churchman and a moderator of the General Assembly. For fifty-eight years, he taught New Testament and theology at the Seminary. He founded The Princeton Review, a scholarly journal for biblical and theological studies, and was an international figure in Christian thought. His three-volume Systematic Theology had the widest circulation of any theological work done in nineteenth-century America. Hodge Hall, completed in 1893 and named in his memory, is used for student housing and faculty offices.
Robert E. Speer Society
Robert E. Speer (1867–1947) was an alumnus of the College of New Jersey and a leader in the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. In 1890 he entered the Seminary. During his second year, he was invited by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church to become its executive secretary, a post he accepted and held for forty-six years. Under his direction, the Board of Foreign Missions became the strongest Protestant missionary agency in the world. Although never ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament, he was a beloved leader of the Presbyterian Church and was elected moderator of the General Assembly. For many years, he was a trustee, then board president of the Seminary. Robert E. Speer Library, erected in 1957, was named in his honor.
The President’s Circle
The Seminary has been served by a remarkable succession of presidents. Francis L. Patton (1902–1913) came to the Seminary after serving as president of Princeton University. J. Ross Stevenson (1914–1936) guided the Seminary through turbulent years of theological debate. John A. Mackay (1936–1959) created a new ecumenical era for theological education. James I. McCord (1959–1983) established the first center of continuing education at a seminary, and gave leadership to both the national and world church. Thomas W. Gillespie (1983–2004) increased the size of the faculty, dramatically augmented scholarship aid for students, and oversaw an extensive program of renovation and construction.