William C. Grainger, a tall, dark, Lincolnesque man in appearance, had come to California from Missouri. At a camp meeting in Yountville, Ellen G. White had told him, “A school is soon to be opened in Healdsburg, and both you and your wife are needed there as teachers.” The Graingers accepted her advice, and in 1886, when President Brownsberger resigned, Grainger was selected to the second president of the 13-teacher, 223-student Healdsburg College.
During the twelve-year Grainger administration, the college was noted for its close relationship between students and teachers, a warm constituency cooperation with the school, and consequently a high esprit de corps. Though sometimes plagued by financial woes, under Grainger’s guidance the college initiated a pattern of educational excellence by a strong faculty that has long been a Pacific Union College hallmark. Himself possessed of considerable intellect, Grainger’s powers of concentration were legendary. The attribute quickly won for him the appreciation of students, faculty and constituents.
In 1894, President Grainger, whose eyes had always been on service in lands afar, resigned his Healdsburg College presidency, and shortly thereafter began pioneering the giving of the Christian gospel in the country of Japan.