Established by pioneer Methodists, McKendree is the oldest university in the state of Illinois and continues to have ties to the United Methodist Church. First called Lebanon Seminary, the school opened in two rented sheds for 72 students in 1828 under Edward Raymond Ames. 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 College. Later Bishop McKendree deeded 480 acres (194.2 ha) of land in Shiloh, Illinois to endow the college. Reverend Peter Akers, in 1833, was the first president of the newly named college. He was president of McKendree College three times 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. Since 1994 and the installation of its former President Dr. James M. Dennis, the institution has significantly increased its enrollment. In recent years, a new enrollment management strategy has yielded larger numbers of high quality students, built substantial graduate enrollments and strongly diversified the student body. In 2001, the college embarked on a capital campaign which raised more than $20 million for the campus including the creation of a performing arts center.