Herbert Hoover

Young Bert at Friends Academy

Herbert Hoover and George Fox University

The ties between Herbert Hoover and George Fox University began in 1885. That fall, 11-year-old Bert Hoover, recently orphaned in Iowa, moved to Newberg, Ore., to live with his uncle and aunt, Dr. Henry John and Laura Ellen Minthorn. Minthorn had recently opened Friends Pacific Academy, and Bert enrolled in the first class shortly after his arrival. He studied under dedicated Quaker mentors and helped pay his way by tending furnace, sweeping floors, and cleaning blackboards.

"As a young student there for three years," President Herbert Clark Hoover said in later years, "I received whatever set I may have had toward good purposes in life."

The academy was the predecessor school to George Fox University, which was founded in 1891. Those on campus with a sense of heritage often think of the quiet lad who studied here a century ago. No one dreamed he would grow to be named Engineer of the Century, that he would live and work on five continents, that he would direct the greatest humanitarian projects the world has seen - and that in 1928 he would be elected president of the United States.

"I can't afford to underestimate the potential of any student," is the way one professor puts it. "The steady gaze of young Bert in those old photos won't let me!"

The Hoover Academic Building, built in 1977 on the Newberg campus, was named after the former president and has been recently renovated. The Hoover Collection in the Hoover-Hatfield Library displays various photos and memorabilia from his life and contains materials written about President Hoover and his administration.

Hoover as US Secretary of Commerce (1923)

Herbert Hoover and Engineering

Herbert Hoover went on from Friends Pacific Academy to join the first entering class at Stanford University in 1891. After graduation, he started his work doing geological surveys. He then moved on to have a very successful carreer as mining engineer and consultant. Here are some of Hoover's comments about engineering:

It is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer's high privilege.

The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned ...

On the other hand, unlike the doctor his is not a life among the weak. Unlike the soldier, destruction is not his purpose. Unlike the lawyer, quarrels are not his daily bread. To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope. No doubt as years go by the people forget which engineer did it, even if they ever knew. Or some politician puts his name on it. Or they credit it to some promoter who used other people's money ... But the engineer himself looks back at the unending stream of goodness which flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know. And the verdict of his fellow professionals is all the accolade he wants.

Herbert Hoover Symposia at George Fox

Every two years since 1977, members of the history faculty have invited to the George Fox University campus leading authorities on the life and career of Herbert Hoover as engineer, humanitarian, and president. These meetings are attended by professional historians, students, faculty, and friends of the university. Credit is offered to students who study selected aspects of the rich and varied career of the 31st president of the United States.

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