History and Heritage

George Fox is the oldest Christian university in Oregon. More than 125 years ago, evangelical Quaker pioneers helped settle the rich and fruitful Chehalem Valley of Oregon, which is now known for its premier vineyards.

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.

The college remained a small and intimate learning environment for 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.

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. Enrollment surpassed 3,300 students in 2008, 3,700 students in 2013 and 3,900 students in 2015. The university broke the 4,000-student milestone for the first time in its history in the fall of 2016.

Today, George Fox is Oregon's nationally recognized Christian university, providing students with personal attention, global opportunities to learn and serve, and a support community that encourages academic rigor and spiritual growth. The university offers more than 40 majorsadult degree programs, six seminary degrees, and 12 master's and doctoral degrees. In addition to a residential campus in Newberg, Oregon, classes are now taught in Portland, Salem and Redmond, Oregon.

Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, marked the 125th anniversary of George Fox's founding. To read more about the university's history, visit our 125th Anniversary web page.