Journal Title George Fox Journal Online

Our Foundation

By Rob Felton

“The whole of your life must be spent in your own company, and only the educated man is good company for himself.”— Friends Pacific Academy motto in 1889

Pacific College opened Sept. 9, 1891, enrolling 15 students in the Quaker settlement of Newberg. Students paid $12 per semester for tuition and shared seven faculty members with 136 younger pupils attending Friends Pacific Academy. Among those first academy students was Herbert “Bertie” Hoover, future U.S. President.

First Academy Students

The college would weather major financial difficulties, change its name to George Fox, and gain accreditation before enrollment broke 200 in 1962. Over the next 25 years, the college would add facilities and increase the academic rigor of its programs. During the 1980s, George Fox began expanding its offerings, triggering a growth spurt that continues 19 years later.

Click here to see a Flash presentation of the the history of George Fox.


  • 1887
    George Fox Bruin Bruin Jr. A bear born before George Fox University existed lives today in the university’s Bruins sports nickname and in its oldest student tradition. In 1887, a student at Friends Pacific Academy brought to campus a black bear cub found in the coast range. The cub lived in a pit in Hess Creek canyon. After the bear died in 1892, the bearskin became an unofficial mascot, traveling with the senior class on outings. Senior classes traditionally passed “Bruin” down to the juniors, but in 1898, the junior class swiped the skin early. Students have wrestled for possession of the bearskin and numerous canvas replicas called “Bruin Jr.” ever since.
  • 1893
    The first graduating class

    For decades, George Fox students celebrated the coming of spring with May Day festivals. Dressed in old English and modern costumes, students crowned a May Day court, wound the Maypole, and performed folk dances and drills.
  • 1910
    Wood-Mar Hall Evangeline Martin and Amanda Woodward with “Faithful Old Kit” celebrate the $30,000 raised for a new college building. Wood-Mar Hall was completed in 1911.
  • 1917
    The Bruins won the Willamette Valley League basketball championship in a season that included a 34-25 win against Oregon State Agricultural College (Oregon State University).
  • 1949
    Name changed to George Fox College
  • 1959
    Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools grants accreditation
  • 1969
    Raft RaceThe Raft Race down the Willamette River has been an on-and-off George Fox tradition for students and staff since 1969. Using oars and “anything that floats,” students race down the three-mile course from Roger’s Landing in Newberg to Champoeg Park. The 1981 race drew 22 entries and more than 100 student sailors. The fastest recorded time is 65 minutes, set in 1971. The most unique craft might have been the air-filled waterbed that captured the 1976 race.
  • 1986
    George Fox first in the Northwest to offer degree-completion program for working adults

    Degree-completion classes offered in Portland
  • 1987
    Juniors Abroad overseas study program starts. Excursions have reached every continent except Antarctica.

    U.S. News & World Reportranks George Fox as one of “America’s Best Colleges” for the first time.
  • 1989
    Templeton Foundation includes George Fox on its nationwide Honor Roll of Character Building Colleges
  • 1990
    George Fox begins offering graduate programs, acquiring the doctor of psychology program from Western Seminary
  • 1991
    Esther KlagesGeorge Fox celebrated its 100th birthday in a year-long celebration ending Sept. 9. Centennial Tower donor Esther Klages was part of the ceremonies.

    Computers Across the Curriculum program starts, providing a Macintosh Classic to each student. Today’s undergraduates all receive laptops.
  • 1995
    Boise Center opens
  • 1996
    George Fox College merges with Western Evangelical Seminary; name change to George Fox University.

    Former U.S. senator Mark Hatfield joins faculty to teach history and political science.
  • 1999
    Serve DayCampus closes for a day as all staff and students head into the community for volunteer service projects on the university’s first annual Serve Day.
  • 2000
    Carnegie Foundation’s Oregon Professor of the Year award given to Dwight Kimberly, biology.
  • 2003
    Salem Center opens
  • 2004
    Baseball NationalsBruins win NCAA Division III national baseball championship.

Our Future

Two years in the making, a new campus master plan offers a glimpse of
tomorrow’s George Fox University


Future Map of George Fox University

In the last two decades, George Fox University has quadrupled enrollment and launched more than a dozen new academic programs. Now George Fox leaders are preparing a growing university for the changes to come in the next 20 years and beyond. Their vision for the university is taking shape in a Newberg campus master plan.

Developing the vision

Notable ZGF clients
  • University of     Chicago
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • University of     Southern     California

Guiding the two-year master plan process is Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, a national architectural firm with significant experience designing university buildings and campus master plans. ZGF is known for integrating beauty and function in environmentally friendly designs that fit their surroundings. Some of the most notable architecture in Oregon is by ZGF, including the lighted towers atop the Oregon Convention Center, the dramatic bridge-like structure of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and the arching steel and glass canopy at the entrance to Portland International Airport.

ZGF began its planning process by reviewing university goals with the president and cabinet. After gathering input during open meetings with students, faculty, staff, and trustees, ZGF met monthly with an on-campus facilities committee to review concepts. A long-term plan emerged with a probable sequence of facility construction, renovation, and removal. Additional details of the master plan will be revealed in the Journal later this year.

Under construction

The campus master plan incorporates three projects now under way as part of the Defining Chapter fund-raising effort

  • Hoover Academic Building is being expanded and renovated to add nursing education facilities, classrooms, offices, an art gallery, and a Hoover-Hatfield library. A 15,400-square-foot addition is scheduled to be complete this fall. An interior and exterior remodel of the existing building will occur during the 2006-07 academic year.
  • A long-held dream for an amphitheatre on the side of Hess Creek Canyon near Wheeler Sports Center has become reality. Most of the $130,000 cost of the 500-person amphitheatre is being paid by the George Fox student government, which initiated the project.
  • The 120-bed apartment-style Le Shana Residence Hall is expected to open this fall on the east side of the canyon, near the Eugene Coffin Hall (formerly University Hall). The new hall will provide much-needed housing for juniors and seniors.

Hospital property: from healing to learning

The impending purchase of Providence Newberg Hospital’s eight acres of property adjacent to campus (outlined in green, see above map) allowed George Fox to expand its campus and vision. In 2004, the university signed a net $3 million contract to acquire the land. George Fox plans to take possession this spring when Providence opens a new medical facility in a new Newberg location. Short-term university plans for the old hospital building include conversion to classrooms and offices. Eventually, the structure will be replaced by academic buildings and a grass quad. GFJ


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