About a year later, having spent a number of months promoting the work of evangelism and attending camp meetings in California, the Whites returned to Battle Creek to attend the eleventh annual meeting of the General Conference. In his opening address James emphasized the needs of the school:
Probably there is no branch of this work that suffers so much at the present time as the proper education of men and women to proclaim the third angel's message. . . . Now, I say, we want a school. We want a denominational school, if you please. . . .
We want a school in which the languages, especially the spoken and written languages of the present day, can be taught, and learned by young men and women to prepare them to become printers, editors, and teachers; and if we can do no more, where our young men that are about entering the ministry, and women, too, who are to be laborers in this great work, can be instructed thoroughly in the common branches, where their minds can be disciplined to study, where, if it is not for more than three months, our young men may have the best instruction, and may, during that time, at least, learn how to study (ibid., May 20, 1873).
He had no misgivings about the ability of Seventh-day Adventists to provide the money for a school enterprise, noting the liberality shown in erecting the second Review and Herald building.