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140 Years of ACG: Thank you to our Founders!


This year we celebrate our 140 years and we want to say thank you to our Founders that continue to support the school!

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was among the first American Christian missionary organizations, established in 1810 by recent graduates of Williams College. In the 19th century it was the largest and most important of American missionary organizations.

The founding of the ABCFM was inspired by the Second Great Awakening. In 1806, five students from Williams College in western Massachusetts took shelter from a thunderstorm in a haystack. At the Haystack Prayer Meeting, they came to the common conviction that "the field is the world" and inspired the creation of the ABCFM four years later. The objective of the ABCFM was to spread Christianity worldwide.

In 1812, the ABCFM sent its first missionaries to British India. Between 1812 and 1840, they were followed by missionaries to the following people and places: Tennessee to the Cherokee Indians, India (the Bombay area), northern Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka), the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii); east Asia: China, Singapore and Siam (Thailand); the Middle East: (Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, the Holy Land and Persia (Iran)); and Africa: Western Africa—Cape Palmas—and Southern Africa—among the Zulus.

The American Collegiate Institute for Girls, as the school was first named, was founded in Smyrna in 1875 by a single female spirited Boston missionary named Maria West. Miss West had first sailed to Ottoman Turkey in 1852, settling in Constantinople and teaching herself Armenian. After numerous adventures, she returned to Boston and in 1876, she went back to Smyrna with an ambitious goal as The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) had agreed to her suggestion that she establish a school for girls in Smyrna. “That I am reappointed to the Western Turkey Mission is a source of heartfelt gratitude to God,” she wrote. “That Smyrna is to be my future and, I trust, my final field of labour, causes my cup to overflow.”

In 1961 the ABCFM, or the American Board, merged with other similar societies to form the United Church Board for World Ministries, an agency of the United Church of Christ. In the same year, the College was incorporated in the State of Colorado,with a Board of Trustees established, authorizing the College to grant Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degrees. Following this, in 1964, PIERCE was officially recognized by the Greek Ministry of Education as equivalent to Greek public high schools.

To this day, the United Church Board for World Ministries holds up an endowment fund in support of PIERCE, from the income of which it makes annual donations to ACG in support of scholarships to PIERCE students. More specifically, through this endowment they have committed to assist “any girl, needy, and worthy; regardless of race, color or creed.”

December 2015

To learn about ways to create a scholarship fund at ACG, or to contribute to existing funds, please visit or contact the Office of Development & Alumni Relations: In Greece, t. +30 210.600.9800,  email: [email protected]. In the US: Office of Development, t. +1 857.284.7908 – [email protected].

The AMERICAN COLLEGE OF GREECE (PIERCE-DEREE-ALBA) is a non-profit, non-sectarian educational institution that was founded in 1875. It is the oldest and largest American college in Europe, offering secondary, undergraduate, and graduate studies as well as programs in professional education. ACG is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the most prestigious accrediting organization in the United States, and has a degree validation agreement with the Open University of the United Kingdom. The College enrolls approximately 4,000 students and has over 50,000 alumni who live and work in dozens of countries around the world.