West Africa Advanced School of Theology (WAAST) opened its doors to students for the first time in 1971 with a three-year program leading to an Associate of Theology degree. Dr. Richard Cunningham was the founding president and Dr. Delbert Tarr was the academic dean for the French section. Rev. Rex Jackson served as dean for the anglo. The first commencement was in 1973.
After the death of Dr. Cunningham in 1975, Rev. Jackson became president. He retired in 1978, whereupon Rev. Ted Schultz was named the school’s third president. In November 1979, the Board of Governors upgraded the academic program for the English speakers to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Bible and Theology. The class of 1980 was the first graduating class to receive the BA degree. At the same time the francophone program was upgraded to a Diploma in Theology.
In January 1985, at the announcement of the retirement of Rev. Schultz, Rev. Willard Teague was named the fourth president. He served until 1998, when Rev. Randy Tarr, son of Dr. Delbert Tarr, became president. He served until 2010, when Dr. Mary Ballenger assumed this position. Rev. Jean Bandé arrived in 1988 from Burkina Faso and filled the position of academic dean for ten years. He is currently the vice president of the institution. In 1989, both the English and French programs were changed to a Bachelor of Theology (BTh) degree.
In the mid-1990s WAAST opened its first extension site, in Côte d’Ivoire. Today its BTh and diploma programs are offered at centers in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Kinshasa, Gabon, and Madagascar. Students do their studies at these locations until their final semester, then come to the central campus in Lomé to complete their program.
Seeing an increasing number of clergy holding bachelor’s degrees and the considering the challenges of sending them overseas for further education, WAAST announced the launching in 1994 of a graduate program, called Assemblies of God Graduate School of Theology (AGGST). Recognizing the centrality of missio Dei (God’s mission) in the purpose of God, AGGST held the conviction that the first graduate major should be in the area of missiology. Eighteen students, representing six nations of Africa and the USA, were admitted into the new program in May 1994. A degree in Christian education was added in 2000 but has been temporarily discontinued. The MA degree has been offered in French since 2002.
In 2001, WAAST and AGGST received from Africa Theological Training Service (ATTS) and Africa Assemblies of God Alliance (AAGA) both academic and ecclesiastical endorsement for the Post-secondary Diploma, BTh, and MA programs. In 2009, WAAST and AGGST received official accreditation from Togo’s Ministry of Higher Education. This was renewed in 2015. WAAST has a liaison with the University of Lomé, to which credits are transferable.