News

In Memory of Former VFCC President, Reverend Wesley W. Smith

by Office of Marketing | June 26, 2014
Rev. Wesley SmithValley Forge Christian College (VFCC) mourns the loss of former president (1985-1996), Reverend Wesley W. Smith. Smith entered heaven on June 18, 2014 leaving behind a legacy as a beloved husband, father, friend, teacher and mentor.

Smith had a passion to lead. He served as a professor at Gordon College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and North Central Bible College (now North Central University) where he taught various subjects including Greek. He served as Chairman of Biblical Studies at Evangel College (now Evangel University) and was on the faculty of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary before coming to serve as the president of Valley Forge Christian College.

At the beginning of his presidency, Smith helped expand the diversity, staff and student population at VFCC. This resulted in more minority students attending the College. Hiring more staff also meant hiring more female professors. Smith believed that VFCC needed more female role models and encouraged women to be involved in ministry.

As the College began to grow, Smith was faced with a difficult decsision. The former hospital buildings were in need of great repair and maintenance. The administration began to look at other properties to move to. With God's provision, Smith's leadership was key in keeping VFCC in its current location, in Phoenixville, Pa. The week before a decision had to be made, Smith felt God directly speak to him, confirming that moving locations was not what He had planned for the College.

In 1994, Smith began a reconstruction and revitalization project, in which older buildings were demolished and others were remodeled. Included in this undertaking, the guard house and chain link fence that remained at the entrance of the former general hospital grounds were taken down.  

After retiring from full-time ministry, Smith returned to VFCC to serve as an adjunct professor. He taught many courses, including the full sequence of Biblical Greek courses. As a professor, one of his most important contributions was a personal one; his commitment to teaching the Bible and creating a safe environment for students to discuss life’s tough questions. “He was loved as a teacher and was instrumental in bringing wonderful leaders to the college during his time,” President Don Meyer said.

Smith’s admiration from students was clearly displayed this past week, as Dr. Meyer’s announcement of his passing on Facebook resulted in former VFCC students sharing their fondest memories of him. Some comments read, “A true and provoking teacher. Shined in the classroom,” followed by, “Professor Smith made a lasting impact on my life. I’m so thankful for his leadership,” and “He was a great teacher and I always marveled at how he would preach without a stitch of notes and a little Bible inside his suit coat pocket.” 

In remembering a leader who profoundly shaped the College Dr. Meyer said, “Valley Forge Christian College will always be indebted to President Wesley Smith for his caring and devoted service during the years he served here. We are building upon the wonderful legacy in which he invested in the lives of our students and the ministries of VFCC. On behalf of all of us here, we extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to his entire family.”