Established in 1828 by pioneer Methodists, McKendree is the oldest college in Illinois, and the oldest in the nation with continuous ties to the United Methodist Church. First called "Lebanon Seminary," the school opened in two rented sheds for 72 students. In 1830, Bishop William McKendree, the first American-born bishop of the Methodist church, permitted the Board of Trustees to change the institution's name to McKendree. Later Bishop McKendree deeded 480 acres of rich land in Shiloh Valley, Illinois, to help support the College. Reverend Peter Akers, in 1833, was the first president of the newly named college. He was three times president of McKendree and received its first degree, an honorary Doctorate of Divinity. In 1835, the college received one of the first charters granted to independent church colleges by the Illinois legislature. The institution still operates under the provisions of a second, more liberal charter obtained in 1839. McKendree's students have included many who became pioneers in industry and business, who became senators and governors and career public servants, who became distinguished military leaders, and who filled pulpits and teaching appointments across the land. In July 2007 McKendree College officially became McKendree University.