Biola University’s ‘Forgotten Founder’ Remembered in Dedication Ceremony

Biola University dedicates Blackstone Hall in honor of William E. Blackstone

Oct. 6, 2015 By Shayna Brodsky

Biola University dedicated the newest residence hall, named after Biola’s first administrative dean, William E. Blackstone, on Oct. 6, 2015 in the dorm’s courtyard. The dedication date was especially significant as it was Blackstone’s birthday — he would have been 174 years old. The hall was named after Blackstone to honor him and his significant contributions to Biola.

“He was Biola’s first administrative dean, sold millions of books, led evangelism efforts around the world and was named the ‘father of Zionism’ by a Supreme Court justice,” said Paul Rood, Biola historian and professor of history. “Blackstone deserves to be remembered.”

Blackstone was instrumental during Biola’s developmental years, and he also acted as a spokesman for Jewish rights. In 1902, Blackstone was a successful businessman in Chicago, Ill. He received a call to teach college students at The Bible Institute of Los Angeles and took the opportunity to minister to young lives. He served as founding trustee, officer and administrative dean until 1910. He would often end his letters saying, “I am but an errand boy for Jesus.”

In addition, Blackstone became a pioneer advocate for the Jewish community in Los Angeles and in the nation. He was the leader in pushing legal petitions to help with the humanitarian efforts towards Jewish people. His concern for the Jewish community was so great that in 1890 he held a “Conference of Christians and Jews on the Past, Present and Future of Israel,” attended by many of America’s most prominent Christian and Jewish religious leaders. The following year he issued “A Proclamation for a Homeland for Persecuted Russian Jews in Palestine,” which was signed by more than 400 of America’s leading politicians and religious leaders and presented to U.S. President Benjamin Harrison and other heads of state. Blackstone advocated a brand of Zionism that would carefully work to foster cooperation between Jews and Arabs to benefit all of the inhabitants of the region.

The dedication ceremony honored Blackstone’s legacy. Approximately 20 of Blackstone’s family members were present to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the building. The dedication was open to the public.

After a year of construction on Blackstone Hall, students filled the 320 open spots in the residence hall for the first time in August 2015. There are 132 economy double rooms that are spread out onto four floors. Each floor has common areas equipped with flat screen TVs and Apple TV. Perhaps, the most exciting amenity for the residents of Blackstone Hall is the in-building dining facility, Blackstone Cafe, a first on the university campus.

Written by Shayna Brodsky, media relations intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, media relations specialist, at (562) 777-4061 or



  • Wes Taber Oct. 7, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Shalom Shayna, Thanks for the excellent article and photos commemorating yesterday's stirring dedication of Blackstone Hall. As a "Biola dad" (Kathryn Taber Strote '08) I'm happy to see the continued efforts to provide excellent facilities for students. And on behalf of Life in Messiah International, I was thrilled to join the Blackstone family in seeing WEB honored so well by Biola's leadership. William Blackstone was not only the founder of our ministry (which began as Chicago Heberw Mission in 1887), but was used of the Lord in the formative stages of Moody Bible Institute and the Christian & Missionary Alliance. He served in China and advanced the gospel through establishing orphanages, medical clinics and schools in Asia. He truly was a "world Christian" before that term came into use. I hope Biola students and guests will take a few moments to read the tribute plaques in the first floor lobby of Blackstone Hall. The breadth of one humble servant's Kingdom efforts are well summarized there. Thank you to Dr. Corey, Paul Rood, and all who worked so hard to make the dedication both moving and memorable. May God raise up from among the Biola student body many who will emulate Blackstone's heart for the Lord, His Word, and the lost. In the spirit of Romans 1:16 WEB truly was not ashamed of the gospel. May we be as faithful in our generation. Wes Taber Executive Director, Life in Messiah International

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