Westminster Seminary California welcomed its first students in the fall of 1980. From the beginning, WSC committed itself to providing the finest in theological education with a particular focus on preparing men for pastoral ministry. The inerrancy of the Scriptures, the Gospel of Christ, the importance of the church and preaching, and the Reformed confessions have all guided the life and teaching of the Seminary.
From its inception WSC has attracted students from all over the United States and from many foreign countries. At the time of its founding, there was no Reformed seminary in the western part of the United States. WSC established a campus with an extensive library, a comprehensive curriculum, and a full faculty of teachers who were both experienced pastors and experts in their academic disciplines.
WSC traces its commitment to Reformed theological education back to the Reformation and especially to John Calvin’s educational approach in his Genevan Academy. In America that educational heritage was maintained at Princeton Theological Seminary in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Old Princeton was devoted to the inerrancy of the Bible, outstanding scholarship, fine academic education, and service to the church in its preaching and missionary work. When in 1929 Princeton Seminary was reorganized to tolerate theological liberalism, several faculty members, led by the distinguished scholar J. Gresham Machen, left Princeton to found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The new seminary preserved the heritage of old Princeton and passed it on to WSC. Westminster Seminary California was initially a branch campus of the Philadelphia school until 1982 when it became fully independent.
Dr. Robert B. Strimple and Mr. Robert G. den Dulk shared the administrative responsibilities for founding the Seminary, moving to California in 1979. Dr. Strimple became the first president of WSC in 1982, overseeing the movement of the Seminary from its temporary home in San Marcos to its beautiful, permanent campus in southeastern Escondido. In 1988, Dr. Strimple returned to full-time teaching and scholarship, while Mr. den Dulk became president, increasing the size and financial strength of the school. Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, who had joined the faculty in 1981 as professor of church history, became the third president of WSC in 1993.