What started as the Eugene Divinity School in 1895 (with free tuition for the first five students enrolled in the fall of that year) by founder and pastor-educator Eugene C. Sanderson, Northwest Christian University has taught countless Christians the ways of wisdom, faith, and service.
Although known as Eugene Bible University by 1908, it was much more than its name implied. Between 1908 and 1929, EBU constructed the Administration and Music Buildings, as well as other now non-existent structures, and operated the Pacific Christian Hospital (known today as the Sacred Heart Medical Center), a home for the aged, a home for wayward boys, a two-year women's college in south Eugene, and colleges in four other states. It also offered a student nursing program and a school of oratory and fine arts.
The Ups and Downs
Unfortunately when the nation's economy collapsed in 1929, the institution was over-extended and under-capitalized.
The board of trustees struggled to keep the college open and in 1930 eliminated all extraneous corporations and activities and reinvented EBU as Eugene Bible College, choosing to focus primarily on training students for ministry.
When Spokane University, founded by the Christian Churches in 1912, failed due to financial challenges in 1934, its remaining students and assets were sent south to Eugene Bible College. That same year the college changed its name to Northwest Christian College, organizing its efforts under then-president, Kendall E. Burke.
After struggling through the Depression, enrollment was bolstered in the 1940s and early 1950s by returning World War II G.I.'s. Campus housing for women (Burke Hall) was built in 1950, the Kellenberger Library completed in 1957 on the site of the old Klinger Gymnasium, and the Griffeth dormitory addition to Burke Hall completed in 1963. Several homes adjacent to campus were also purchased to provide some much-needed room.
During the presidency of Dr. Ross J. Griffeth, NCC achieved regional accreditation in 1962 and the College began to expand its curriculum with double majors in Bible and theology and other disciplines. Enrollment grew to over 400 students by the mid-1970s and additional campus housing was secured to meet the demand for increased housing and faculty offices. However, by the late 1970s and early 1980s the College again faced difficult financial circumstances and saw its enrollment plummet to less than 200 by 1986.
More Changes - More Choices
In an attempt to offer more academic choices, the College began to offer combination majors with our neighboring University of Oregon in the 1980s, and in 1986, with the calling of Dr. James E. Womack as president, began the process of broadening its curriculum to include liberal arts and professional studies programs as well as a degree completion program for adult learners. Graduate programs were added in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1995, the College's 100th anniversary, the Music and Library buildings underwent significant renovations and a building connecting the two was constructed. During the late 1990s and early 2000s the College significantly expanded its student programs to include student athletics, where today 12 collegiate NAIA athletic programs are offered. In 2003, as the result of the $13.5 million "Vision for Our Second Century" capital campaign led by President James E. Womack, the board of trustees and members of the community, the Morse Event Center was completed. The campaign also provided for increased endowment of scholarship funding and the funding of a significant technology upgrade for the campus.
Between 2004-2010 and during the presidency of Dr. David Wilson, an adjacent former fraternity was purchased to provide much-needed faculty offices and increased classroom space. The Pomajevich Faculty Building was dedicated in 2006. The institution officially changed its name to Northwest Christian University in 2008 to reflect its growing academic programs and concentrations in its undergraduate and professional studies programs, as well as four master's degree programs in its business program and School of Education.
Today, with record enrollments, NCU remains committed to quality Christian higher education. With expanded curriculum, faculty, and facilities, NCU today is the faithful heir to the pioneer conviction that led to the institution's founding 117 years ago.