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Perry Epler Gresham


College president Perry Epler Gresham (December 19, 1907-September 10, 1994) was born in Covina, California. He received an A.B. from Texas Christian University in 1931 and a bachelor of divinity degree from the same institution in 1933. He also studied at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the Union Theological Seminary, Pacific School of Religion, and the University of Edinburgh.

Gresham was an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and pastored congregations in Denver, Fort Worth, Seattle, and Detroit before moving to West Virginia to become president of Bethany College in 1953. He was president from 1953 to 1972 and later served four years as chairman of the college’s board of trustees. During Gresham’s presidency, Bethany launched a building program and hosted world leaders, speakers, and lecturers. Gresham implemented the Bethany Plan, a model liberal arts curriculum culminating in comprehensive examinations in the senior year.

Gresham was named to the Rhodes Scholar selection committee in West Virginia, and he received a Freedom Foundation Award for his service in education in 1963. He was a trustee of the West Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges. His writing included Disciples of the High Calling (1953), Sage of Bethany (1959), Campbell and the Colleges (1972), With Wings as Eagles (1980), and other books. Gresham died in North Carolina.

Written by Linda S. Comins


  1. Carty, James W. Jr. The Gresham Years. Athens, OH: Lawhead Press, 1970.

  2. Gresham, Perry E. Growing Up in the Ranchland. Simla, CO: Gaddy Printing, 1993.

  3. Marty, Corie. Noted College President, Dr. Gresham, Dies. Wheeling Sunday News-Register, 9/11/1994.