Marylhurst University
Former names
St. Mary's Academy and College
Marylhurst College
MottoCor Sapientis Quaerit Doctrinam (Latin)
The heart of the wise seeks knowledge
Active1893 (1893)–2018 (2018)
AffiliationRoman Catholic
(Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary)
PresidentMelody Rose[1]
Location, ,
United States

45°23′54″N 122°38′46″W / 45.39833°N 122.64611°W / 45.39833; -122.64611Coordinates: 45°23′54″N 122°38′46″W / 45.39833°N 122.64611°W / 45.39833; -122.64611
63 acres (250,000 m2)
ColorsGold   and   Royal blue[2]

Marylhurst University was a private applied liberal arts and business university in Marylhurst, Oregon. It was among the oldest collegiate degree-granting institutions in Oregon, having awarded its first degree in 1897. Marylhurst was founded as St. Mary's College and run for many years by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. The former campus is located about nine miles south of Portland, Oregon on the Willamette River. Although Marylhurst University was a Roman Catholic school, it served students of all faiths and backgrounds.

The university offered bachelor's degree completion programs in diverse liberal arts and business fields, and graduate degrees in such fields as business and nonprofit administration, food systems and society, teaching, art therapy counseling, divinity and applied theology, and interdisciplinary studies. After its establishment in 1893, Marylhurst became the first women's liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest.

The university closed at the end of the summer of 2018.[3][4] Declining enrollment was given as the main reason, with enrollment having dropped from 1,409 to 743 in just four years, from fall 2013 to fall 2017. In recent years, the university's student population had peaked around 2,000 during the Great Recession of 2007–2009.[4] Prior to the closure, however, Marylhurst's faculty challenged this narrative.[5]


The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a Roman Catholic religious teaching congregation, arrived in Oregon in 1859.[2] The Sisters came to Oregon from Montreal at the request of the people and clergy of the state to serve their educational needs, and established St. Mary's Academy in Portland that year.[6]

St. Mary's College

In 1893, the group started St. Mary's Academy and College [6] as the first liberal arts college to serve the educational needs of Pacific Northwest women. The school began in downtown Portland, where St. Mary's Academy is still located.[2] The Sisters purchased 63 acres (250,000 m2) between Lake Oswego and West Linn in 1908. The Sisters named the pastoral land Marylhurst, which means "Mary's Woods". In 1929 it became the only accredited standard four year college for women in the Pacific Northwest.[7] The college was moved to the new property in 1930, and St. Mary's was renamed Marylhurst College.[6] Starting in 1977 the school was accredited by the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools.[8]

Marylhurst College

The B.P. John Administrative Building at the effective center of campus
The B.P. John Administrative Building at the effective center of campus

In 1959, Marylhurst College became an independent institution and formed a Board of Trustees, separate from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. In 1974, the college transitioned to a co-educational institution and it became the first liberal arts college in the United States to be designated as a college for lifelong learning.

The American Art Therapy Association reviewed the program positively numerous times including 1991, 1996 and 2002.[9]

Beginning in 1996, US News & World Report's Guide to America's Best Colleges recognized Marylhurst. The University remained as "unranked" for the Western Region in the US News & World Report college rankings since the mid-1990s.[10][11]

Marylhurst University

In 1998, Marylhurst College became Marylhurst University, Clackamas County's first university. Several new academic programs were added including a Master of Arts in Applied Theology program, a Bachelor of Music Therapy program, and a cooperative Doctor of Ministry degree program with San Francisco Theological Seminary. Judith Johansen was named president of the university in 2008 and left in 2013.[12] Melody Rose served as president from August 2014 until late 2018.

In May 2018, the university announced that it would be closing.[3] The university's enrollment had declined significantly in just a few years, from over 1,400 students in 2013 to about half that many students in 2018. The university turned the campus over to the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the religious order with which it is affiliated.[13]

Saint Martin's University was selected to serve as the custodial institution for Marylhurst University. As of Dec. 3, 2018, Marylhurst alumni can access their records and transcripts through Saint Martin's University.[citation needed]


Marylhurst University offered nearly 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.[14] Marylhurst began the Master of Art Therapy program in 1986, the only accredited art therapy program in the Pacific Northwest. In 1990, Marylhurst inaugurated its Master of Business Administration program and a concentration in interior design was added to the art program. In 2002, the University began to offer a BFA in interior design.

Four online MBA programs were offered by Marylhurst: an MBA, an MBA in Healthcare Management, an MBA in Sustainability, and an MBA in Real Estate.[15]

The school also offered 12 shorter undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate, teacher endorsement certificate programs.[16]

Marylhurst had dual-enrollment agreements with Portland State University, Portland Community College[17] and Clackamas Community College.[18]

The Art Gym

Main article: The Art Gym

The Art Gym was a contemporary arts exhibition space located on campus. It was the brainchild of Kay Slusarenko, who was the art department chair for 20 years, from 1978 to 1998. With contemporaries Terri Hopkins and Paul Sutinen, she rallied the student body and community support to turn the unused gym into the cultural center that it is now. Each spring the gym displays the year's thesis projects. Since 1980, over 300 artists have shown their work at the gym.[19] Marylhurst University announced it would cease operations in 2018, prompting concern about the Art Gym's future. In July 2018, the Art Gym announced that it would be moving to the Oregon College of Art and Craft effective August 1, 2018.[20]

Oregon Sesquicentennial Film Festival

The Oregon Sesquicentennial Film Festival was held at Marylhurst University May 1–10, 2009.[21] The festival was a celebration of the history of Oregon film making. For the festival a 35mm projection booth was constructed on campus in the Villa Maria building. The opening night of the festival was at the Mission Theater with an on stage conversation between James Ivory and Gus Van Sant.[22]

The films shown at Marylhurst included Smoke Signals with director Chris Eyre in person; Marked Woman featuring Mayo Methot; Talk Radio with writer Tad Savinar in person; The Lusty Men (set in and partially shot at the Pendleton Round-up); City Girl by F.W. Murnau, shot on location in Athena, Oregon (with a score composed by John Paul[23] and performed by a string quartet; A Soldier's Tale by Penny Allen, and James Ivory's first international hit film Shakespeare Wallah, with James Ivory attending. The special Oregon Cartoon Institute Day at the festival featured Bill Plympton.[24]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ Dr. Melody Rose
  2. ^ a b c "Marylhurst College". Student's Encyclopædia. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 2009-04-09.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b Marylhurst University (May 2018). "Marylhurst Board of Trustees Votes to Close University by End of 2018". Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Manning, Jeff (May 18, 2018). "Marylhurst, citing declining enrollment, to close". The Oregonian. p. A1. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  5. ^ Manning, Rob. "Marylhurst Faculty Challenge Decision To Close University In Letter To Board Of Trustees". Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  6. ^ a b c Songe, Alice H. (1978). American Universities and Colleges: A Dictionary of Name Changes. Scarecrow Press. p. 116.
  7. ^ "College Expects Large Enrollment". Oregon Journal. August 30, 1936. p. 6.
  8. ^ "NWCCU Institutions of Oregon". Archived from the original on 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  9. ^ "American Art Therapy Association". 2013-10-31. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  10. ^ "Marylhurst University | Marylhurst University - Profile, Rankings and Data | Marylhurst University | US News Best Colleges". Archived from the original on 2017-03-16.
  11. ^ "Best Colleges | College Rankings | US News Education". Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  12. ^ Kish, Matthew (August 28, 2013). "Marylhurst President Judith Johansen resigns". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  13. ^ Doug Lederman (May 17, 2018). "Oregon's Marylhurst University to Close". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "About Marylhurst". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  15. ^ "Online degrees for today's professional". Marylhurst University. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  16. ^ Richard, Read (2016-01-11). "Enrollment plunges at Marylhurst University, as feuds, financial losses threaten recovery". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  17. ^ "PCC, PSU renew co-admission agreement". Portland Business Journal. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  18. ^ "Paving the Path for Clackamas CC Students - Marylhurst University". Marylhurst University. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  19. ^ Phinney/Bischoff Design House. "The Art Gym • Marylhurst University". Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  20. ^ Baer, April (July 18, 2018). "Marylhurst University's Art Gym Finds New Home". OPB.
  21. ^ Pate, Karen (2009-04-22). "Oregon stars in festival of films at Marylhurst". Oregon Live. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  22. ^ "Review: The Beaver State's film heritage: The Oregon sesquicentennial film festival".
  23. ^ Hall, Kaitlyn (2014-10-14). "John Paul joins PLU as chair of music department". Mast Media. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  24. ^ "Bill Plympton's Guide to Oregon Animation History, Part 1 Oregon Sesquicentennial Film Festival". Brown Paper Tickets. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  25. ^ "Guide to the Madeline DeFrees Papers at the University of Montana".
  27. ^ House, Phinney/Bischoff Design (March 2013). "Norma Heyser's Life in the Arts • Marylhurst University • Portland, Oregon". Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  28. ^ "Governor Barbara Roberts". Oregon Historical Society.
  29. ^ "Mary F Sammons". Forbes.
  30. ^ "Mayor Shane Bemis".