W. W. Prescott was an educator and administrator. His parents were Millerites in New England. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1877. He served as principal of high schools in Vermont, and published and edited newspapers in Maine and Vermont prior to accepting the presidency of Battle Creek College (1885 to 1894). While still president of Battle Creek College he helped found Union College and became its first president in 1891. Then late in 1892 he assumed the presidency of the newly founded Walla Walla College.
Because of his reputation as a Biblical scholar he was called upon to make a world tour (1894-1895) to hold Bible institutes and to strengthen developing educational interests. Back in America in 1901, he became vice-president of the General Conference, chairman of the Review and Herald Publishing Association board, and editor of the Review and Herald. On relinquishing this editorship in 1909, he edited the Protestant Magazine for seven years.
He was a field secretary of the General Conference from 1915 until his retirement in 1937, serving during this time as principal of the Australasian Missionary College (1922), and as head of the Bible department at Union College (1924-1928). He spent the year 1930 visiting the churches and institutions in Europe. On his return he wrote The Spade and the Bible, and then became head of the Bible department of Emmanuel Missionary College, a post he held until 1934.