William Warren Prescott


W. W. Prescott was an influential administrator, educator, and scholar. His parents had been Millerites in New England, where he took his schooling, graduating in 1877 from Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire. He taught Latin and Greek while still in his last year in academy and was principal of two Vermont high schools from 1877 to 1880. Later, he owned and edited the Montpelier, Vermont, State Republican.

Prescott was president of Battle Creek College from 1885 to 1894. While still president there, he helped form Union College, becoming its first president in 1891. Then, late in 1892, he also became president of Walla Walla College, thus simultaneously being president of three Adventist colleges in that year.

While on world tour in 1894-1895 Prescott helped to found the Avondale School for Christian Workers (now Avondale College) in Australia. In 1901 he became vice president of the General Conference, chair of the Review and Herald Publishing Board, and editor of the Review. He was field secretary of the General Conference from 1915 until he retired in 1937.

Ellen White had a great interest that Battle Creek College be a trainer of workers for a world church. When Prescott went to Battle Creek as president at the age of 29, he and his wife developed a school that was orderly and well disciplined. He also took a cultural approach that gave the students and school a high reputation in the community.

In 1893 and 1894, when Anna Phillips began claiming to have the prophetic gift, both A. T. Jones and W. W. Prescott publicly supported her. Ellen White, however, wrote warnings from Australia to both men against Anna's claims. Both Jones in Battle Creek, and Prescott in Walla Walla, accepted her counsel and dropped their support. The letters traveled several weeks and yet arrived just in time to correct the problem. S. N. Haskell, president of the California Conference, happened to be at Walla Walla at the time and wrote to Ellen White: "I have heard about testimonies coming just in season, but I never experienced such providence before."--S. N. Haskell to Ellen White, March 31, 1894 (EGW Biography, vol. 4, p. 129). Anna Phillips also accepted the reproof and ceased making her claims to the prophetic gift.

In 1910 Ellen White decided to bring out a new edition of The Great Controversy, and she asked capable church leaders to reexamine the book to see if its truths were stated in the very best manner. Prescott offered a large number of suggestions, about half of which were used in the new 1911 edition. It is clear that Ellen White had great respect for him, and yet she did not hesitate to correct him when needed. Prescott was truly a remarkable educational leader, and his contributions, especially in this area, were felt around the world.

John Nevins Andrews
Joseph Bates
John Norton Loughborough
Fredrick Wheeler
George Ide Butler
Marian Davis
Otis Nichols
Stephen N. Haskell
Eugene Farnsworth
S. M. I. Henry
Uriah Smith
W. W. Prescott