History and Heritage

George Fox is the oldest Christian university in Oregon.

Land of the Kalapuya

The university’s Newberg campus is located in the fertile Willamette River Valley where the Kalapuya and other native tribes maintained hunter-gatherer societies for thousands of years. Their way of life changed with western expansion. Following catastrophic epidemics and treaties with the U.S. government in the 1850s, most of the remaining Kalapuya were forced to join an estimated 1,000 native Americans on the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. Today tribal members still maintain their connection to their homelands and contribute significantly to the ongoing development of the region.

Humble Beginnings

Photo of Levi Pennington and Herbert Hoover

Several decades after the forced removal of the Kalapuya, Quaker pioneers came to Newberg. One of the settlers' first priorities, along with the founding of their church, was the education of their children. They established the Friends Pacific Academy in 1885, which focused on Christian instruction. Among those first academy students was a future U.S. president, Herbert Hoover.

At the same time, the founding pioneers were looking ahead with the dream of a college to provide further and more advanced education. That time came on Sept. 9, 1891, with the opening of the doors of Pacific College. Fifteen students were enrolled the first day of classes.

Since then, the institution has seen major changes, including a name change. In 1949, because of the many “Pacific” colleges, the school was renamed "George Fox College" in honor of the founder of the Friends (Quaker) movement.

From Small College to Nationally Renowned

George Fox Womens Basketball Team

The college remained a small and intimate learning environment in the years following and received accreditation in 1959. Over the next 20 years, the college would add facilities and increase the academic rigor of its programs.

During the 1980s, George Fox adopted an innovative mindset and rapidly expanded its program offerings, which triggered a growth spurt that continued for the next 20 years. Among the additions was adult education: George Fox became the first college in the Northwest to offer degree-completion programs for working adults in 1986.

With the school’s merger with Western Evangelical Seminary in 1996, the college changed its name to “George Fox University.” During the next 12 years, the university experienced rapid growth, quadrupling in size.

George Fox Today

Areal view of the Quad and the Stevens Center

Today, more than 4,100 students attend George Fox, a nationally recognized Christian university that provides students with personal attention, global opportunities to learn and serve, and a supportive community that encourages academic rigor and spiritual growth.

The university offers more than 40 majors, adult degree programs, six seminary degrees, and 13 master's and doctoral degrees. In addition to a residential campus in Newberg, Oregon, classes are now taught in Portland, Salem and Redmond, Oregon.

Timeline

1885
Levi Pennington and Herbert Hoover sitting on lawn chairs

Founded

Friends Pacific Academy opens with 19 students, including future U.S. president Herbert Hoover.

1887
Student holding the bruin brawl bear

Mascot

A bear born before George Fox University existed inspired the university’s use of "Bruins" as a sports nickname and its oldest student tradition, the Bruin Brawl.

1891
Old picture of pacific college

Pacific College

Pacific College opens its doors with 15 students.

1910
Construction of Wood-Mar Hall

Fundraisers

Evangeline Martin and Amanda Woodward orchestrate the raising of $30,000 for a new college building. Wood-Mar Hall is completed in 1911.

1949
A button with the words 'George Fox College' written in cursive

George Fox College

The school’s name changes to George Fox College.

1959
Alumni Reception 1983

Accreditation

The Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools grants accreditation.

1986
Adults degree completion students working in a classroom

Degrees for Adults

George Fox is the first institution in the Northwest to offer a degree-completion program for working adults, offered in Portland.

1990
Psyd student conducting an EKG lab

PsyD Added

George Fox begins offering graduate programs, acquiring the doctor of psychology program from Western Seminary.

1991
Clock tower with scaffolding on it for construction

100 Years!

George Fox celebrates its 100th birthday in a yearlong celebration that includes the dedication of Centennial Tower, funded by donor Esther Klages.

The same year, Computers Across the Curriculum program begins, providing a Macintosh Classic to each student.

1996
George Fox University sign

Merger

George Fox College merges with Western Evangelical Seminary and the name changes again – to George Fox University. Former U.S. senator Mark Hatfield joins the faculty to teach history and political science.

1999
Serve Day

Serve Day

The campus closes for a day as all staff and students head into the community for volunteer service projects on the university’s inaugural Serve Day.

2004
George Fox Baseball team celebrating

National Champs

The Bruins win the NCAA Division III national baseball championship.

2009
Women's basketball team celebrating

Hoops Heroes

The Bruins win a NCAA Division III national women's basketball championship.

2010
Austin Sports Field

Austin Unveiled

The Austin Sports Complex opens with a synthetic turf soccer/lacrosse field. In rankings news, Forbes ranks George Fox among its top-100 “America's Best Colleges,” highest among Christian colleges in the nation.

2011
Act Six Scholars

Act Six

The first cadre of Act Six students graduate. The leadership and scholarship program provides full scholarships to selected urban leaders in the Portland area.

2014
George Fox football players

Football Returns

Stoffer Family Stadium is completed, including Lemmons Family Field and the 14,000-square-foot Duke Athletic Center. Construction was funded by one of the largest gifts in school history by Marilyn and John Duke. In the fall, the school welcomes the return of football after a 46-year hiatus from the sport.

2015
Brant Hall is opened

Brandt Hall

Construction is completed on a new residence hall, Brandt Hall, named for former President David Brandt and his wife Melva. The university also completes a 220-foot bridge that spans Hess Creek Canyon to better connect the new buildings on the east side of campus to the west.

2016
Canyon Commons

Canyon Commons

Construction of a new dining hall in Hess Creek Canyon, Canyon Commons, is completed in time for a fall 2016 opening. The 30,000-square-foot facility replaces Klages Dining Hall as the primary food service venue. Klages is in turn converted into a Maker Hub. The year also marks the university's 125th anniversary.

2018
Opening of Hadlock

Hadlock Opens

The university opens the Hadlock Student Center, a 48,000-square-foot fitness facility.

In athletics, the women's track and field team wins a national title, claiming George Fox’s third NCAA team championship in history. In the fall, athletics adds intercollegiate swimming.

2019
A Physicians Assistant checking the heartbeat of a child

PA Added

The university announces plans to launch a physician assistant program, to be housed in a newly built facility on Werth Boulevard in Newberg.

2020
Student joining class from home via zoom

Remote Learning

The university adapts to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering remote learning. Among the initiatives introduced is George Fox Digital, which allows incoming freshmen to take courses online.