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Faces Behind the Places of DePauw University

This guide includes historical information about the people behind DePauw University's building names.

Bishop Francis Asbury

Francis AsburyBishop Francis Asbury
August 20, 1745 – March 31, 1816
“The Father of American Methodism”

As first bishop of American Methodism, Francis Asbury’s contributions to the denomination earned him the title, “the father of American Methodism.” Asbury’s dedication to Methodism is said to have begun in his youth at the age of 13. In 1771, Asbury volunteered to leave England as a missionary for America. Over the next 45 years, Asbury’s work as a circuit rider made an incredible impact in the development of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Asbury served as the America-based assistant to John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. And during the Revolutionary War, Asbury was the only minister from England who remained in the country. From his arrival in America to his death, the total number of Methodists in the colonies rose from 1,000 to over 200,000. Asbury logged an incredible number of miles traveling across the nation, totaling more than 270,000 miles on horseback, averaging 6,000 a year. He preached over 16,000 sermons, with an average of one a day. Leading the growth of American Methodism, he presided over at least 224 Annual Methodist Conferences and ordained more than 4,000 preachers. Today, a monument of Asbury on horseback stands in Washington D.C., dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge.

Asbury HallThough Asbury had received little formal education, he, like John Wesley, was dedicated to improving access to education, founding many academies across the country. Twenty-one years after Asbury’s death, the Indiana Methodist leaders committed to establishing Methodism’s first institution of higher education in Indiana. In 1837, Indiana Asbury University was established, honoring Asbury’s impact on the denomination. Long after the university’s name was changed to DePauw, Asbury’s legacy remains in the titles of Asbury Hall and the Asbury College of Liberal Arts.