Salem Academy and College Marks 250th Anniversary - Oldest Educational Institution for Girls and Women in America

Salem Academy and College Marks 250th Anniversary - Oldest Educational Institution for Girls and Women in America

Press Release For Immediate Release
April 22, 2022

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (APRIL 22, 2022)—At its Founders Day Convocation on April 22, Salem Academy and College, located in Winston-Salem, NC, celebrated its 250th anniversary and inaugurated its 22nd president, who ushers in a new focus for the historic institution.  Founded in 1772—five years before the signing of the American Declaration of Independence—Salem is the oldest educational institution for girls and women in America.

Salem’s founders created the school with the bold and then-revolutionary idea that girls and women deserved the same education as men. An institution that has created generation after generation of leaders, Salem continues to educate, thrive, and innovate from its original location.

Salem Academy is the nation’s only all-girls, boarding and day high school located on a college campus with a STEAM focus. An undergraduate liberal arts college for women, Salem College is the nation’s only college exclusively dedicated to creating the next generation of women leaders in health.

“Celebrating a 250th anniversary is a formidable achievement in the history of American education,” Salem Board of Trustees Chair Elizabeth Denton Baird said.  “Consistently, through all 250 years, Salem has continued to push boundaries for women and girls at every juncture. The graduates of Salem Academy and College are innovators, visionaries, changemakers, and problem solvers.”

“Graduates of Salem Academy and College will be ready to shape their own futures and that of the communities around them by making bold impacts locally, nationally, and globally,” Baird added.  “For the next 250 years, Salem will continue to be a powerful force and change the world for the better.”

To celebrate the 250th milestone, Salem is holding a multi-day commemoration called RISE that began with a Health Leadership Forum on April 21, which featured panel discussions focused on diverse career options, emerging issues in health leadership, and collaboration across disciplines. Salem’s Health Leadership Forum included remarks by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and a keynote address by Mayo Clinic Health System’s President Dr. Prathibha Varkey.

In conjunction with its 250th Anniversary Founder’s Day Convocation, Salem held the inauguration of its 22nd president, Dr. Summer McGee, PhD, CPH.  During her inaugural address, Dr. McGee reflected on history but also set the tone for the future of Salem Academy and College.

“Salem Academy and College are institutions with a rich history of boldness and innovation. Our founding was based on disruption, pushing the boundaries of what education was and who could access it,” Dr. McGee said.  “Had our Moravian forebearers accepted the status quo and not aspired to reach everyone, Salem would have never been founded.

“Looking to the future, Salem will reach new student populations, develop new programs and expand opportunities to grow our student body,” she said.  “Our goal is to reach new audiences and tell the story of Salem that includes brilliant students and engaged faculty. Salem will secure and ensure its place not just as the first educational institution of its kind but as the finest.”

On April 23, RISE continues with Salem’s Reunion Weekend for alumnae, the 250th Lovefeast and Candle Service Celebrating the Founding of Salem Academy and College—a tradition in Salem’s Moravian heritage community—and a special celebration for the Salem College Class of 2020.  In addition, Salem introduced a new book called “Journey to Salem” during RISE. The book chronicles the story of a group of Salem alumnae, staff, and friends who left Bethlehem, PA on September 28, 2021 to recreate the historic 500-mile Journey to Salem, NC that resulted in Salem’s founding in 1772.

About Salem Academy and College

Salem Academy and College, celebrating 250 years and built upon a foundation of empowering and preparing girls and women from all around the world to affect change, shatter expectations, and lead.  Exclusively focused on developing tomorrow’s health leaders and change agents in STEAM fields and beyond.

Salem Academy and College is located in Winston Salem, North Carolina, a vibrant college town known for arts and innovation. For more information about Salem Academy, please visit For more information about Salem College, please visit