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College History

College History

This video, created using audio and photographs from the Goddard College Archives, documents the early history of the College. The audio consists of excerpts from a talk Goddard's founding president, Royce "Tim" Pitkin, gave in 1973. The talk was called, "The Ideas Upon Which Goddard Was Founded."

Initially chartered as a Universalist seminary in 1863, Green Mountain Central Institute, later renamed Goddard Seminary, Goddard College was chartered in 1938 at its Plainfield, Vermont, campus by founding President Royce “Tim” Pitkin. In 1963, Goddard became the first American college to offer adult-degree programs, and now specializes in MA, MFA, BA and BFA low-residency education. Offering accredited degree programs from campuses in Plainfield, Vermont, and Port Townsend, Washington, Goddard’s low-residency format offers the best of on-campus and distance education, with experienced faculty advisors, rigorous on-campus residencies, and the freedom to study from anywhere.


Goddard College’s founder, Royce “Tim” Pitkin, was a graduate of Goddard Seminary and a student of John Dewey.  Alarmed by the rise of fascism in Europe, Pitkin founded Goddard College in 1938 to unite the liberal values of the Seminary with Dewey’s belief that interactive, self-directed education could help build civil, democratic societies.  An experimenting college, Goddard has continually offered new educational models in response to societal needs.It was one of the first colleges to include adult learning in its charter, the first to develop a low-residency model for higher education, and the first to offer residential programs for single parents receiving public assistance. The College continues to grow and change along with its students, who come to Goddard to transform themselves, their communities, and their world.

Evalyn Bates and the Goddard Model

Evalyn BatesEvalyn Bates, founder of Goddard’s Adult Degree Program, proposed in her 1957 University of Chicago master's thesis that the Goddard model of education would:

  1. Evaluate progress and discuss successes and failures;

  2. Provide time to search for meaning;
  3. Provide situations for motivated students to achieve their goals;
  4. Provide opportunity for satisfying personal and social relationships;
  5. Encourage students to become who they truly are, expand their potential, and increase confidence with peers, allowing for continual life growth benefiting the individual and society;
  6. Be based on key situations that are part of daily life;
  7. Be imaginative, creative, and bold in design.

Read an article and interview with Evalyn Bates here.