For three quarters of a century, William Jessup University has been faithful to the vision of its founder, William Jessup. We are the result of that vision.


At the 75th anniversary of our founding, we are grateful for our past and thankful for our present. Join us in celebrating 75 years of God's glory and vision.

Jessup Gala

September 20th, 2014

Rocklin Campus

Commemorate 75 years of God’s glory

Food, live performances and fellowship

Placer County’s largest silent auction

Proceeds benefit student scholarships

Founder's Day Event

February 2015

Rocklin Campus

An afternoon of fun for the whole family

A celebration of our 75-year heritage

Food, games, activities and chapel

Open to the public

"We believe that students can and should become more spiritually thriving during college. We believe that students can and should receive a quality liberal arts education that equips them to think and behave well as followers of Christ."

John Jackson, Ph.D.

The Story

Early 1930's

A Vision for a Bible College

William Jessup University began during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Dr. Eugene Sanderson, who had already started three other colleges, saw the need for a Bible college in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. He purchased two large houses on adjacent lots at Fifth and San Carlos Streets in San Jose, across from the campus of San Jose Teachers College (now San Jose State University). Over the course of several years, he improved the property and built a chapel for the faculty and student body yet to come.

1939 - 1960

A College is Born

In January of 1939, Sanderson asked William L. Jessup (a.k.a. Brother Bill) to carry on the vision and start the College. Bill and his wife Carrie moved from Visalia to San Jose to open the College. On September 20, 1939, classes at San Jose Bible College began with fourteen students. The curriculum focused on the study of the Bible and preparation for church vocations. During the next few years, growth at San Jose Bible College created the need for a new and larger campus. Seven and one-half acres were purchased at Twelfth and Virginia Streets in San Jose. The first three buildings were erected and put into use by February 1951. The first on-campus housing, Beach Memorial Hall, a dormitory for women, was dedicated in 1960.

1960 - 1984

A Community is Born

During the 1960s and 1970s new buildings including a second dormitory, a new cafeteria, the Memorial Library, the Tiffin Center, a multipurpose gymnasium and a classroom were built. The College received accreditation with the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges (now the Association of Biblical Higher Education) in 1962. Dr. Bryce Jessup, son of Brother Bill and fifth president of the college, began his leadership in 1984. He led the College to its greatest growth in enrollment, facilities and program offerings. Multicultural programs focusing on leadership training were added for students flooding in from various cultural backgrounds in and around San Jose. Students from more than thirty different birth countries enrolled during this time.

1984 - 2004

Accreditation & Growth

San Jose Bible College became San Jose Christian College on July 1, 1989. Further accreditation was granted by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 2002. The college became William Jessup University in 2003, as the campus and a majority of its staff, faculty and students moved to Rocklin, California in 2004. The name change reflected the decision to broaden academic programs to include traditional undergraduate studies, professional studies and, eventually graduate studies in a variety of disciplines.

2004 - 2014

A Campus for the Future

The 128-acre property purchased in Rocklin included a striking, award-winning office and warehouse facility for the Herman Miller Corporation, designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. The renovation for campus use received the Best Rebuild/Renovation Award from the Sacramento Business Journal in March 2005. Since then, William Jessup University is becoming the Northern California based Christ-centered university, in partnership with the Church, distinctively known for Christ-centered relational and transformative education.

City on a Hill

City on a Hill

By Bryce Jessup

The founder and first President of San Jose Bible College (Brother Bill) was a passionate leader who believed the best way to change the world is to transform young men and women in a college setting and send them forth to plant and lead churches. City on a Hill is written by his son, Bryce Jessup, who served as the University’s fifth president from 1984 to 2010. You will enjoy reading the story of the many challenges the University faced in its 75-year history. You will be inspired by God’s provision, the lessons learned, the sacrifices made and it will give you hope for the future.

More Information

Then & Now

Numbers don't tell the full story, but here is a fun look at what has grown since since 1939.

Students in 1939
Students in 2014
Faculty in 1939
Faculty in 2014
Classrooms in 1939
Classrooms in 2014
Programs in 1939
Programs in 2014

In partnership with the Church, the purpose of William Jessup University is to prepare Christians for leadership and service in church and society, through Christian higher education, spiritual formation, and directed experiences.

WJU Mission Statement

The Future

William Jessup University is living out the calling that God has placed before us. The future burns bright and we truly are Transforming Tomorrow, Today!


What could the future look like by 2020?

William Jessup University is prayerfully hoping to have 2,500 traditional undergraduate students at our Rocklin campus, 1,000 non-traditional degree completion students studying in centers across Northern California, 500 students in six graduate programs (we are currently offering a Master’s of Teaching and are looking at adding graduate degrees in leadership, business, psychology, education and public administration) and expectantly preparing for 5,000 students taking online courses across our degree platforms. But numbers of students only tell one part of the story.

Read the Complete Article
City on a Hill

Jessup Magazine

Jessup Magazine is published quarterly by the Development Department at William Jessup University and is sent free of charge to alumni, parents, supporters, and friends of the university.

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