John R. Clements, 1900-July 31, 1914
Practical Bible Training School was incorporated on December 6, 1900 with 160 students, and with a lecture series by R. A. Torrey. John R. Clements, the famous hymn writer was President, and John A. Davis, Superintendent. Clements had many gifts and talents including music and poetry. Saved under the ministry of D.L. Moody, Clements served as president at Davis College (then PBTS) from 1900-1914 and was postmaster of Bible School Park Post Officer from 1935-1945. His energy in service to the Lord is personified in the commitment of members of the John R. Clements Society today.
John A. Davis (Founder), August 7, 1914-March 17, 1934
In 1914, John A. Davis assumed the president’s office. Funds were raised an a new building raised on Harrison Street in Lestershire, now known as Johnson City. The building was finished by June, 1901. The Mission of the school was “to give worthy young men and women a thorough knowledge of the Word of God and to make them useful in their own churches in winning souls to Jesus Christ. It seeks to be an auxiliary of the church and to do a specific work in a practical way that but few churches are equipped to carry on.”
John A. Davis never lost his love for evangelistic work and carried on successful campaigns with his song leader, F. B. Mills. Their campaigns in Altoona, Brooklyn, and Binghamton were especially blessed with revival and a great number of conversions. All the while, John continued to lead Practical with innovative programs. For instance, Practical had its own printing press and correspondence school, government post office, fire department, school band, orchestra, and gospel wagon.
The Student League of Many Nations travel team ministered all over the United States and became well known in Christian circles for providing exciting and edifying meetings. Davis even founded a Women’s Brigade, where young women were trained for Christian work. But, as Mrs. Etta Carr Davis would once write, “Buildings and grounds do not make a school. It takes lives, vision and real constructive work. I could tell you of great outstanding characters sent to be trained for the Master’s service. One of the greatest joys in our work has been seeing the Word of God taking root in the hearts of these young lives and developing strong characters. Many of them have been called to the foreign field, more have taken up work in the homeland, some have gone back to their own churches to be more efficient workers. We do not take any glory to ourselves for this work, but we are only glad we have had a part in it.”
John A. Davis made this school and provided energetic, passionate, and creative leadership for 34 years, through the First World War, and the Great Depression. He passed away in March, 1934, and was buried on a knoll on campus overlooking the Susquehanna River.
Gordon C. Davis, April 30, 1934-December 7, 1961
Gordon assumed the presidency and provided effective leadership from 1934 until his death in December, 1961. During his presidency, Gordon brought keen administrative skills that enabled Practical to pay off its mortgage in 1944, and to build Patterson Hall in 1961. Gordon Davis personally instructed each senior in speech and singing. His method of preaching, which he taught, became a legacy at Practical, and has been used and adapted by later homiletics teachers like Dr. John Benson and Dr. Woodrow Kroll.
In 1953, the school began a half-hour radio broadcast on WPEL. Since the Student League of Many Nations had ceased by 1958, Gordon Davis re-established the music department and brought Elliott Ackerly, of the class of 1942, to give it new direction. The PBTS chorale presented about 55 concerts every year around the United States. Gordon Davis passed away in December, 1961, passing the torch of leadership to Marian C. Patterson.
Marion C. Patterson, December 11, 1961-December 31, 1970
Dr. Patterson used his business and fundraising skills to erect many needed buildings on campus, including several homes, the Chatlos Davis Hall, The Alice E. Chatlos Library, and Clements Hall, which houses the post office and eleven apartments. All of this, he did in nine years, before he retired for health reasons in 1970. He passed away in 1979.
Kenneth C. Robb, January 1, 1971 — June 30, 1980
Dr. Kenneth Robb assumed the presidency for another nine years. He was a graduate of the class of 1942, and had pastored several churches, including the First Baptist Church, Riverdale, Maryland, for 17 years. Dr. Robb brought this pastoral heart to Practical, where, in addition to leading the school, he taught Bible doctrine, Bible history, homiletics, and pastoral theology. In honor of Dr. Robb, the trustees named the new gymnasium for him when it was completed in 1980.
After a 6-month interim period under the Rev. Gordon Hay, Dr. Woodrow Kroll assumed the presidency.
Woodrow M. Kroll, January 1, 1981 — May 31, 1990
Dr. Kroll graduated from Practical in 1965. In 1981, the curriculum was restructured, the academics were strengthened, and the college receive full ABHE (then AABC) accreditation by 1985. Dr. Kroll also established a new administrative structure for the school, with vice presidents over the various departments. Being an excellent scholar and preacher, he taught and utilized the principles of Dr. Gordon Davis and Dr. John Benson in his homiletical method. Through his speaking in Bible conferences and churches, Dr. Kroll made Practical once again known across the country.
When Dr. Kroll resigned in 1990 to assume the presidency of Back to the Bible Broadcast, an internationally known radio and publishing ministry in Lincoln, Nebraska, Dr. George D. Miller, III, served as interim president for a year. Then Dr. Dale Linebaugh, a 1949 graduate of PBTS, was appointed the seventh president of Practical in 1991.
Dale E. Linebaugh, July 1, 1991 — June 30, 1998
Dr. Linebaugh had been an evangelist, pastor, and founder of Miracle Mountain Ranch. During Dr. Linebaugh’s administration, Practical received permission to offer the four year bachelor’s degree, an initiative begun under Dr. Kroll’s administration. Now students could finish their course of studies at Practical, instead of transferring to another college to finish their degree. Dr. Linebaugh had a positive impact on the students through his classes, and his warmth and transparent godliness were appreciated by many. Opal Linebaugh enjoyed a significant discipleship ministry with the young women.
In 1998, Dr. Linebaugh retired and returned to his ministry in evangelism. Dr. George D. Miller, III, a 1972 graduate of PBTS, was appointed the president.
George D. Miller III, July 1, 1998 — April 2008
Dr. Miller brought visionary, transformational leadership that inspired Davis College to new heights of passion for excellence in ministry. His leadership in the area of racial reconciliation created intentional diversity on the campus and awareness of ministry across racial and cultural boundaries. He spearheaded creative new programs through which to reach our world, guided the college through a name change in 2004, and saw the college achieve regional accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an achievement that gives our students even greater ability to transfer their credits to any college or university. Dr. Miller’s legacy has positioned the college for future success in reaching the world for Jesus Christ through accredited biblical higher education locally and globally.
Dino J. Pedrone, April 2008 — Present
Dr. Dino Pedrone is the ninth president of Davis College and brings years of administrative and pastoral expertise to his new position. Dr. Pedrone will continue building on the solid academic and spiritual foundation laid by our past presidents. The campus and community are excited about Dr. Pedrone’s appointment and the growth that will continue under his leadership.
God has blessed Davis College with great leadership over this last century. Each president has brought various strengths that have been interwoven into the school such as evangelistic zeal, missions, academic rigor, pastoral warmth, administrative excellence, but always, an emphasis on God’s will and His glorious redemption program. Davis College is passionately committed to our God-given mission of training future Christian leaders for a lifetime of service to Jesus Christ.