Jessup University
Former names
San Jose Bible College (1939–1989)
San Jose Christian College (1989–2004)
William Jessup University (2005–present)
MottoTransforming Tomorrow Today
TypePrivate university
Religious affiliation
Christian churches and churches of Christ
Endowment$1.1 million[1]
Students1700+ full time equivalent[2]

38°49′13.60″N 121°17′32.68″W / 38.8204444°N 121.2924111°W / 38.8204444; -121.2924111
ColorsRed, white, and blue
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIPacWest
Jessup University is located in California
Jessup University
Location in California

Jessup University is a private Christian university in Rocklin, California, with additional sites in San Jose, California and Portland, Oregon. The university had 1,743 (over 1650 full-time equivalent) students during the 2019–20 academic year. Founded in 1939, it had a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,289 in the fall of 2020 on a 126-acre (51 ha) campus.[3]


The university was founded as San Jose Bible College in 1939, in San Jose by William Lee Jessup (1905–1992), the college's first president. Eugene Claremont Sanderson had originally started Evangel Bible University in San Jose in 1934 but was unable to make it viable. As a result, he recruited Jessup, one of his former students, to take over. By 1951, with the school expanding and the San José State University across the street encroaching, San Jose Bible College moved to a parcel bordered by Coyote Creek, 12th Street and nearly 30 years later by I-280. Spanish-style classroom buildings and several dormitory buildings made up the small campus.

William Jessup retired in 1960 and was succeeded by Alvan L. Tiffin. Later, Woodrow Phillips, an alumnus, was president from 1968 to 1979 and Chuck Boatman was president from 1979 to 1984. Bryce Leroy Jessup (1935-2020), a Pepperdine University alumnus and a son of the original president, was president from 1984 to 2010, when he retired. John Jackson, a former pastor at local megachurch Bayside Church, was selected to be the sixth president in March 2011.

In 1989, the school was renamed San Jose Christian College and regionally accredited by WASC in 2002. As administration was unable to find a new location in the Santa Clara Valley, they decided to move the institution to the Sacramento metropolitan city of Rocklin in April 2003. The college officially moved from its San Jose campus in June 2004. At this time the college was renamed William Jessup University. A branch campus has been retained in San Jose that primarily serves non-traditional and graduate students.

The current location was formerly a Herman Miller Furniture Factory and many of the buildings were designed by Frank Gehry.[4]

Since 2017, William Jessup University has formally partnered with Placer County to address land conservation issues in the county.[5] In 2022, the university and Placer County announced plans for the University to purchase a 487 acre piece of land known as the Clover Valley, with the goal of managing it as an ecological and recreational preserve.[6][7]

In 2019, the university refinanced roughly $75 million in debt as bonds through the California Municipal Finance Authority.[8] The origin of the debt is unclear, although the financing is earmarked as for the refinancing of "a portion of one or more loans used to acquire, construct, furnish and/or equip educational facilities of the Borrower’s campus." The school made little mention of the action, noting simply in one of its regular publications that "For the first time in our history, we have fixed rate long-term debt financing."[9]

In 2020, the school announced a partnership with Bethel Church to create Bethel Music College.[10][11][12] The school, which is accredited through Jessup, allows students to study with Bethel Music leaders and other industry experts while gaining credits that can be used toward a bachelor's degree. It is structured similarly to the university's partnership with another Bethel program known as the Bethel School of Technology, which operates a "nine-month technology bootcamp."[13] Although the impact of the programs is unclear, Jessup, in a press release, noted that, in the fall of 2020, the "partnership program with Bethel brought in 150 students in the first four months of the program."[14]

The press release further argued for the university's successful navigation of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that enrollment had grown by 6.5%, with the growth powered by an increase in online students, students in graduate programs, and students involved in the Bethel Music College program.[14] The statistics presented, however, suggest a possible drop in traditional undergraduate students that has been "filled in" by growth in other areas.

The school added a bachelor of science in nursing program in 2023, which saw its first students in classes for the Spring semester.[15]

On November 7, 2023 Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon announced a merger with Jessup University.[16]


Jessup offers 25 undergraduate majors, 10 graduate programs, 5 degree completion programs, and 9 fully online programs. The university is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission with some programs accredited by discipline-specific accreditors.


Faculty and programs are divided into six schools:[17]

Centers and Institutes


The Jessup athletic teams are called the Warriors. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) since the 2014–15 academic year. The Warriors previously competed in the California Pacific Conference (Cal Pac) from 2004–05 to 2013–14. In the summer of 2023, the school announced that it had been accepted into NCAA Division II and will compete in the Pacific West Conference (PacWest) starting in the fall of 2024.[20][21] The move echoed decisions by several other Christian universities in California that have left the GSAC and joined the PacWest Conference over the last decade.

Jessup competes in 16 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, stunt, tennis, track & field and volleyball.[22]

LGBT policy

William Jessup has a partial exception to Title IX which allows it to legally discriminate against LGBT students for religious reasons.[23] The university's handbook states "Students who engage in unmarried heterosexual cohabitation or any homosexual/bisexual activity will be subject to judicial action".[24]

A student and cross-country athlete claims that he was kicked out of the university in 2014 for being gay.[25] In response to the student's claims, university president John Jackson stated that "we do not discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation. However, student participation in WJU is a voluntary association governed by a biblically-based code of conduct for every student enrolled at the University."[26]

A group of students filed a lawsuit in 2021 arguing that the school should not receive federal funding while subjecting LGBT students to denial of housing and health care, expulsion, shame, loneliness, and sexual and physical harassment. The lawsuit was dismissed by federal judge Ann Aiken.[27]


The university's current president, John Jackson, has made controversial statements online, especially about social issues.[28] In his personal blog, he stated that he has "observed at least five cultural giants of our time: historical revisionism, abortion and euthanasia, religious repression, racism and injustice, identity and family" and is “'against' these five giants".[28] He also "believe[s] that a socialist economic and political system is the greatest natural threat to religious liberty around the world." He also was one of the first religious leaders in the state of California to advocate the return to in-person religious services, calling for the "restoration of 100% of building capacities" by July 2020.[29]

In response to LGBT policies and other controversial steps, current and previous students have shared their stories and frustrations with the university's policies and practices on the blog Liberated Jessupians.[30]

Notable alumni

See also


  1. ^ "2008 NACUBO Endowment Study" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 29, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  2. ^ "Home | Jessup University". Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  3. ^ "William Jessup University - Profile, Rankings and Data". US News Best Colleges. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  4. ^ "Frank Gehry". Salon. October 5, 1999.
  5. ^ "Placer, William Jessup partnership | Placer County, CA". Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  6. ^ TeSelle, Mike (2022-06-28). "'Once in lifetime deal': William Jessup University aims to preserve Rocklin's Clover Valley". KCRA. Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  7. ^ "Clover Valley Preservation | Placer County, CA". Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  8. ^ McCormick, Ryan (2019-05-08). "The CMFA Completed the issuance of $74,170,000 in Bonds for the William Jessup University". California Municipal Finance Authority. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  9. ^ "My Story - Issue 03". Jessup University. Archived from the original on 2023-05-31. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  10. ^ "Jessup Bethel Music Partnership | William Jessup University". Jessup University. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  11. ^ "Bethel Music Launches Its Own College". 2014-10-02. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  12. ^ "Bethel Music College | Bethel". Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  13. ^ "Bethel School of Technology | Bethel". Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  14. ^ a b Jessup (2020-09-22). "Jessup's Enrollment Up 6.5% Amid Global Pandemic". Jessup University. Archived from the original on 2023-05-31. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  15. ^ "Jessup University Hosts Nursing Program Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony". EIN News. 2023-04-25. Retrieved 2023-10-11.
  16. ^ "Multnomah University and Jessup University Announce Transformative Partnership". Multnomah University. Retrieved Nov 7, 2023.
  17. ^ "2021-2022 Academic Catalog". 21 December 2022.
  18. ^ "Schools & Institutes". William Jessup University. Retrieved 2022-08-08.
  19. ^ "School of Theology & Leadership". William Jessup University. Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  20. ^ "NCAA Announces Jessup's Acceptance into NCAA Division II". Jessup University Athletics. Retrieved 2023-08-01.
  21. ^ "William Jessup University athletics moving to NCAA Division II". FOX40. 2023-07-17. Retrieved 2023-08-01.
  22. ^ "Jessup University".
  23. ^ Redden, Elizabeth (April 13, 2021). "Colleges Seek to Intervene in Title IX Religious Exemption Suit". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  24. ^ Hoang, Lien (June 19, 2014). "William Jessup University in Rocklin expels gay student". Sacramento News & Review. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  25. ^ "Sanger man claims he was kicked out of university for being gay". ABC 30 Action News. Fresno, California. May 31, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  26. ^ Zeigler, Cyd (2014-06-01). "Read Christian univ. memo on expelled gay athlete". Outsports. Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  27. ^ Anderson, Nick (January 13, 2023). "Judge dismisses suit from LGBTQ students who alleged bias at Christian colleges". The Washington Post.
  28. ^ a b "The Prevailing Church: Confronting the Giants of Culture - John Jackson Communications". 2023-02-06. Archived from the original on 2023-10-05. Retrieved 2023-06-08.
  29. ^ "An Appeal for California Churches – Dr. John Jackson, Pastorpreneur". Archived from the original on 2020-09-23. Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  30. ^ "Rocklin's Destiny Church advances religion's role in politics". The Sacramento Bee. October 22, 2022.
  31. ^ Wilson, Holly. "J.J. Heller's poetic style noted on secular folk chart". Christian Examiner. Retrieved 23 February 2012.