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Linfield History

For over 150 years, Linfield College has helped shape the lives of men and women who served as leaders of the college, the local community, the state and the nation. Although Linfield traces its roots to the Oregon City College, it wasn't until Jan. 30, 1858, that the Baptist College at McMinnville was chartered by the Oregon Territorial Legislature. The college was later named McMinnville College. Through the early years, the college also served as McMinnville's secondary school and didn't award its first baccalaureate degree until 1884.

For many years, the college struggled for survival, as frontier men and women were more concerned with forging a living than earning a formal education. But its future was assured in 1922 when Frances Ross Linfield gave her properties in Spokane, Wash., to the school. In honor of the gift and to show thanks for the more than $250,000 the college realized from the sale of the land, trustees renamed the college in honor of Mrs. Linfield's late husband, the Rev. George Fisher Linfield. The college maintains its American Baptist heritage, although faculty, students and staff are not bound by religious requirements.

Since then, Linfield has grown into the institution it is today, achieving these important milestones:

  • The Linfield Research Institute, which gives undergraduates the opportunity to work with faculty on research, was established in 1956. With endowment funding specifically for student-led undergraduate research, it has contributed to Linfield’s strong record in science education.
  • The Linfield Division of Continuing Education began in 1975 to provide better access for working adults to achieve degrees. Today, it serves communities throughout Oregon, and the country, with nearly 550 students enrolled in coursework online and on site.
  • In 1976, Linfield began a student exchange program with Kanto Gakuin University in Japan. Today, students from KGU and Linfield continue to exchange each year, and Linfield students also study in Austria, Australia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, France, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Senegal, Spain and China (Beijing and Hong Kong). January Term, with its popular four-week intensive courses, typically offers classes at a variety of domestic and international locations. Over 50 percent of students study abroad by the time they graduate.
  • Linfield’s Portland Campus was established in 1982 when the college entered into an affiliation with Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center and began offering a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). Today, Linfield’s nursing program is one of the largest, and best known, in the state.
  • Athletic facilities saw a major upgrade in 1989 with the addition of the Health, Human Performance and Athletics building and Ted Wilson Gymnasium, Aquatics Building and the 26,000 square foot Rutschman Field House. The former Riley Gym was then renovated and made into the Riley Campus Center for student activities office space and Walker Hall, now home to the academic support services and the Departments of Modern Language and Anthropology and Sociology.
  • In recent years, Linfield has more than doubled the size of the McMinnville Campus, which has allowed for the increase of the student body and the development of new and expanded facilities. The Departments of Art and Visual Culture, Computer Science, Mass Communication, Music and Theatre and Communication Arts have all seen the development of spaces to meet the growing needs of the departments and match the quality of the facilities to that of the academic programs. A new and expanded library also gave the college better space for research and collaborative study.
  • In the fall of 2011, the former library, Northup Hall, reopened as T.J. Day Hall, Linfield’s first LEED-certified building and new space for the Departments of Business, Economics, English and Philosophy. The Linfield Center for the Northwest, a special program creating student research and internships with an emphasis on the surrounding area, and Linfield’s Writing Center are housed here.