Hillsdale College is an independent institution of higher learning founded in 1844 by men and women “grateful to God for the inestimable blessings” resulting from civil and religious liberty and “believing that the diffusion of learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings.” It pursues the stated object of the founders: “to furnish all persons who wish, irrespective of nation, color, or sex, a literary, scientific [and] theological education” outstanding among American colleges “and to combine with this such moral and social instruction as will best develop the minds and improve the hearts of its pupils.” As a nonsectarian Christian institution, Hillsdale College maintains “by precept and example” the immemorial teachings and practices of the Christian faith.
The College considers itself a trustee of our Western philosophical and theological inheritance tracing to Athens and Jerusalem, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.
By training the young in the liberal arts, Hillsdale College prepares students to become leaders worthy of that legacy. By encouraging the scholarship of its faculty, it contributes to the preservation of that legacy for future generations. By publicly defending that legacy, it enlists the aid of other friends of free civilization and thus secures the conditions of its own survival and independence.
Hillsdale College was founded as Michigan Central College in Spring Arbor, Michigan, in 1844. Nine years later it moved to Hillsdale and assumed its current name. Though established by Freewill Baptists, Hillsdale has been officially non-denominational since its inception. It was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, religion, or sex, and became an early force for the abolition of slavery. It was also the second college in the nation to grant four-year liberal arts degrees to women. And a higher percentage of Hillsdale students enlisted during the Civil War than from any other western college.
Hillsdale’s modern rise to prominence occurred in the 1970s. On the pretext that some of its students were receiving federal loans, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare attempted to interfere with the College’s internal affairs, including a demand that Hillsdale begin counting its students by race. Hillsdale’s trustees responded with two toughly worded resolutions: One, the College would continue its policy of non-discrimination. Two, “with the help of God,” it would “resist, by all legal means, any encroachments on its independence.”
Following almost a decade of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court decided against Hillsdale in 1984. By this time, the College had announced that rather than complying with unconstitutional federal regulation, it would instruct its students that they could no longer bring federal taxpayer money to Hillsdale. Instead, the College would replace that aid with private contributions.
Hillsdale continues to carry out its original mission today, both in the classroom and nationwide through its many outreach programs. A prayer written in the Bible that was placed inside the 1853 cornerstone of the original campus building reflects its continuing commitment: “May earth be better and heaven be richer because of the life and labor of Hillsdale College.”
It’s more than a sign greeting you as you enter town. “It’s the People” has a special meaning to Hillsdale students, faculty, and staff. You’ll find a community of people that will inspire you, challenge you, encourage you, and energize your life with big ideas and even bigger friendships.
Hillsdale’s beautiful Michigan campus is home to 1,500 undergraduate students and 700 full- and part-time employees.
Attend a lecture by one of the many nationally renowned speakers who visit campus each semester. Exercise after work in our fitness center, or cheer on the Chargers at a home athletic event. Get inspired at a fine arts performance or exhibit. Or simply enjoy a stroll through campus, whatever the season.
Our small size ensures that staff do not work in silos. Staff, faculty, and students regularly interact on our campus, creating an enriching, collaborative environment in which to work and to build friendships. Indeed, you’ll find that the people of Hillsdale College create a community that is edifying and joyful.
Every employee of Hillsdale College plays a vital role in the furtherance of Hillsdale’s mission as we work together in a collegial environment, striving to preserve and pursue the Good. See Hillsdale’s Staff Code of Commitment.
Our friendly small town offers more than you would expect. Quality K-12 school options range from the on-campus private Hillsdale Academy to public, charter, and classical schools. Historic downtown Hillsdale offers unique shops, restaurants, coffee houses, and a farmers’ market, all ready to welcome you warmly.
Local churches support your faith journey and offer opportunities for service and fellowship within the community. Our location in south-central Michigan guarantees the beauty of all four seasons, with abundant outdoor recreation opportunities. You’ll discover that the town of Hillsdale is one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets. It’s small-town America as it should be—a great place to live and to raise a family.
Hillsdale Community Schools (public)
Hillsdale Academy (private)
Hillsdale Preparatory School (public charter)
Will Carleton Academy (public charter)
Hillsdale Classical School (homeschool hybrid)
Hillsdale Hospital, a 2022 Top 100 Rural and Community Hospital
(the Chartis Group)
Hillsdale is 70 miles northwest of Toledo, 100 miles west of Detroit, 130 miles southeast of Grand Rapids, and 200 miles east of Chicago.
Parks and Recreation
Baw Beese Lake, featuring three parks
Lost Nations State Game Area
North Country Trail
Fields of Dreams
Mrs. Stock’s Park