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Pre-July 2009 Press Archives

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1/16/2008 Linfield kicks off sesquicentennial celebration

McMINNVILLE – Linfield College will kick off its sesquicentennial celebration with a special program on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 150 years to the day that the charter for the Baptist College at McMinnville was signed by the Oregon Territorial Legislature.

Linfield's first sesquicentennial event will begin at 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 125 SE Cowls, at the site of the college's original home. The Rev. Kent Harrop will open the event, followed by Barbara Seidman, dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs, who will present a brief history of the relationship between the First Baptist Church and Linfield College. The Rev. Bernie Turner, Linfield trustee and retired pastor, will offer a prayer for the future of the college.

A procession, led by a mule-drawn surrey, will be held from the church to the Richard and Lucille Ice Auditorium in Melrose Hall on the Linfield campus. The Brass Sextet will begin the program there with a fanfare, followed by opening remarks by Linfield President Thomas L. Hellie. Proclamations from the governor's office and from Mayor Ed Gormley will be read. Edna Britton, a 1931 graduate of Linfield, will read remarks made by President Leonard Riley for Linfield's 50th anniversary, and Bruce Stewart, a 1949 graduate, will deliver remarks made by President Harry Dillin for Linfield's centennial celebration.

Others who will participate include Amy Orr, associate professor of sociology and chair of the Faculty Executive Council, speaking on curriculum then and now; Dave Hansen, vice president for student services, speaking about student life then and now; and Geoff Young, current trustee and vice president of the Associated Students of Linfield College. Gwen Leonard, professor of music, will lead the singing of the alma mater. A reception will follow.

This is the first of several sesquicentennial events to be held throughout the winter and spring. The next major event will be held in May and will include the dedication of the sesquicentennial plaza and the burial of a time capsule that will be opened at the college's bicentennial celebration.

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. The original McMinnville building was on the present site of the First Baptist Church, at First and Cowls streets. Through the early years, the college also served as McMinnville's secondary school and didn't award its first baccalaureate degree until 1884. The college moved to the current campus on land donated by Samuel and Mahala Cozine. Pioneer Hall, the first building on campus, was built in 1883.

For many years, the college faced a struggle 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 tradition, although faculty, students and staff are bound by no religious requirements.

The college has grown from its humble beginnings into a private, comprehensive undergraduate institution that is recognized regionally and nationally for its strong teaching faculty, outstanding academic programs and distinctive international emphasis. The campus now covers 193 acres, including a new library, and new music, art and theatre facilities, all opened within the last five years. Linfield's programs have expanded beyond McMinnville to include a Portland Campus, offering degrees in nursing and health sciences, and an adult degree program offering degrees online and at eight sites in Oregon.

The events are all free and open to the public. For more information, call 503-883-2607.