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Walla Walla University
Former names
Walla Walla College (1892–2007)
TypePrivate university
Established1892; 132 years ago (1892)
Religious affiliation
Seventh-day Adventist Church
Academic affiliations
CCCU (affiliate)
Endowment$28.8 million (2019)[1]
PresidentJohn K. McVay
Academic staff
ColorsForest Green & Orange
Sporting affiliations

Walla Walla University is a private Adventist university in College Place, Washington. The university has five campuses throughout the Pacific Northwest. It was founded in 1892 and is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The university has an annual enrollment of around 1,700 students. It is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and is also denominationally accredited. Walla Walla University offers more than 100 areas of study including preprofessional degrees and four graduate programs.


In 1887, W.W. Prescott became the first education secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He noticed that Seventh-day Adventist schools were opening all over the place without a plan for long-term success, and decided to encourage these new Adventist schools to consolidate into larger, regional institutions that would stand a better chance of survival. In 1890, Prescott visited the Pacific Northwest and asked the three Adventist schools there to merge; and after overcoming local opposition, the Adventist schools in Coquille, Portland, and Milton, all in Oregon, agreed to merge. A committee chose to place the new school on forty acres of land located just west of Walla Walla, Washington that were donated for the school. The new school opened on December 7, 1892, named Walla Walla College, and Prescott was named the first president. However, Prescott was also president of two other institutions at the time, so Edward A. Sutherland, the principal, took over running the school's day-to-day activities and eventually became the second president of the college.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

On the first day, Walla Walla College offered all education from elementary up to the first two years of college; total enrollment was 101, with six teachers. All classes were run out of the four-storey tall administration building, deliberately built tall so that it could be seen from the city of Walla Walla. Sutherland focused on following the counsels of Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White as closely as possible, and under his direction the school became the first to offer an exclusively vegetarian diet. Likewise, he emphasized manual labour for the students. Initially school finances were shaky, but the manual labour of the students eventually provided sufficient income to stabilize the school's finances. The school's first graduation was held in 1896; three students graduated.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

The school quickly celebrated a number of important milestones. In 1895, the school became the first Adventist institution to allow a brass ensemble to play during church services. In 1899, the first college bakery opened. In 1901, Walla Walla College was incorporated. In 1905, Marion E. Cady became the school's eighth president, and under his leadership the school expanded its college course offerings to a full four-year college program; by 1909, the college celebrated its first baccalaureate graduate. Cady also stabilized the school's finances, which resulted in the college paying off its debt in 1909. However, in 1910 the school suffered the first of many fires, when the power plant burned down. In 1911, Ernest Kellogg took over as president, and under his leadership the academic program of the college was further strengthened; elementary and high school classes were moved to separate buildings, and the school received accreditation from the University of Washington in 1913 for its high school; in that same year, enrollment reached 400 students. Kellogg designed the school's seal, and under Kellogg, the first yearbook was published, the first student newspaper was published, the student association was founded, and the alumni association was created. The first school gym opened when Kellogg retired in 1917; the current cafeteria building is named after him.[5][6][7]

In 1919, a fire destroyed the top floor of the school's administration building. In the 1920s, Walla Walla College pursued accreditation for its college program, receiving accreditation for the first two years of its college program and also winning accreditation for its teacher training program. However, the college met opposition from the church over its pursuit of accreditation, and suspended its application. During this time period, OPS and AGA (dorm clubs) were founded, the Johnson Music Conservatory was built, and a fire burned down the women's dorm. In the 1930s, Walla Walla College again pursued accreditation, and by 1935 it received accreditation for its full college program; in this same year, the high school separated from the college and became Walla Walla Valley Academy, leaving the school strictly a college. By this time, Walla Walla College was the largest Seventh-day Adventist college in the world. Walla Walla went through further conflicts with Adventist authorities, which reached an apex in 1938, when several theology professors were fired because they were considered heterodox. President William Martin Landeen resigned.[4][5][6][7]

In 1939, the Columbia Auditorium opened, a popular performing arts venue. In the 1940s, a number of important developments helped found some of Walla Walla's most popular programs. An airfield was built in 1942 which led to the start of Walla Walla's aviation program. In 1944, the present library building was completed, and in 1947 the present boys dorm was built. In 1945, the village that had grown up to support the college was incorporated as the city of College Place, Washington. In 1947, the university opened up the first school of engineering in the Seventh-day Adventist church, and the first physical education program started around the same time. Also in 1947, the school opened its first satellite campus, when it began its school of nursing at the Portland Sanitarium, today Adventist Health Portland. In 1948, the college's first master's program was offered in Biology, and a master's degree in Education began two years later. A second satellite campus was opened in 1954 at Rosario Beach in Anacortes, Washington, for the marine biology program. Enrollment more than doubled in the post-war years, reaching 1,300 by 1950.[4][5][6][7]

Growth slowed in the 1960s. A church was built in 1962, the present-day University Church. The college radio station, KGTS, began broadcasting in 1963, as the first FM-radio station in the Walla Walla Valley. Several buildings were built towards the end of the decade. The college also began to liberalize its rules, allowing its female students more freedom in how they dressed, and also hired its first full-time black professor. In 1971, the university's engineering school was granted accreditation.[6][7][9]

In the 1970s, the college ran into financial difficulties; a number of college industries were closed, sold, or privatized. A fire damaged the women's dorm, and in 1978 a fire destroyed the Columbia Auditorium. Enrollment reached 2,000 by the middle of the decade. In the 1980s, WWC established an endowment fund in 1987. Also in 1987, a graduate program in social work began.[6][7]

In 2007, the school was renamed Walla Walla University. Today enrollment fluctuates just under 2,000 students who are served by over 200 faculty and staff, across the university's five campuses.[4][6][7][10]


Past presidents of Walla Walla University:[11]


Walla Walla University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and also by the Adventist Accrediting Association. Some of WWU's schools and departments are also accredited by agencies specific to their field. WWU has authorization from both the state of Washington and the state of Oregon.[12][13]

WWU offers pre-professional programs, Associate degrees, Bachelor's degrees, and Master's degrees. The largest undergraduate programs are the nursing, engineering, business, biology, and education schools.[2][14][15]

Walla Walla University is administratively divided into six schools and several departments.[13]

School of Business

The school of business offers a Bachelor of Business Administration among many other bachelor's degree programs, and is accredited by the Accreditation Council of Business Schools & Programs. The school employs ten faculty, and currently operates from Bowers Hall.[13][16]

School of Education and Psychology

The school of education and psychology offers bachelor's degrees in education and psychology, and also offers master's degrees in education. The school prepares students to graduate with a Washington State teacher's certificate, but also offers the option to receive an Adventist education certificate. The school employs 16 professors and support staff, and can be found in Smith Hall.[13][17]

Edward F. Cross School of Engineering

The Edward F. Cross School of Engineering was founded in 1947 by Edward F. Cross, for whom the school was later named. It is the first engineering school in the Adventist education system. It has been accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET since 1971. The school offers a Bachelor of Engineering with four possible concentrations: civil, mechanical, electrical, and computer; and also offers a major in bioengineering. The school employs 12 full-time professors and operates from the Chan Shun Pavilion. The school also sponsors a chapter of Engineers Without Borders[13][18][19] and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Walla Walla University's IEEE student branch collaborates closely with the IEEE Richland Section and PNNL at Tri-Cities, WA.

School of Nursing

The nursing school was founded in 1947. It is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school offers a Bachelor of Nursing, which involves two years of study at the College Place campus, followed by two years of study at the Portland nursing campus, where nursing students work at Adventist Health Portland.[13][20]

Wilma Hepker School of Social Work and Sociology

The school of social work and sociology offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in social work, and a major in sociology. Founded in 1975 by Wilma Hepker, the school has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1980, and operates satellite campuses in Billings and Missoula in Montana for its master's degree program.[13][21][22]

School of Theology

The school of theology is one of Walla Walla University's oldest programs. It has employed a number of important Seventh-day Adventist theologians, including Alden Thompson; and has graduated others, including Charles Scriven.[13][23]

Other programs

Walla Walla University's Department of Biological Sciences is one of its most popular programs, and is important to the university due to its operation of the Rosario Beach Marine Campus as well as being the university's oldest master's degree program.[5][13][24]


Walla Walla University has five campuses. They are located in Washington, Oregon, and Montana.[2]

College Place Main Campus

The first campus of Walla Walla University remains its central campus. Located outside of Walla Walla, Washington, the campus was initially 40 acres before being expanded to the present-day 83 acres, in addition to 592 total acres in the local area. The city of College Place, Washington sprung up shortly after the founding of the campus in 1892 to support the students and workers of the university. Nearly the entire undergraduate program of Walla Walla University is located on this campus, and the graduate program in education is also located on this campus. The oldest building on campus is Village Hall, built in 1920 as the university church. The campus includes Martin Airfield, opened in 1942 for the aviation department; and KGTS, the campus radio station, which heads the Positive Life Radio network that operates across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.[2][25][26][27]

Portland nursing campus

The School of Nursing operates a campus in Portland, Oregon adjacent to Adventist Health Portland, where third and fourth-year nursing students complete their practicum. Opened in 1947, the campus includes a small dormitory for nursing students, named Hansen Hall.[2][25][28]

Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory

The department of Biology operates a 40-acre campus on Rosario Beach, next to Anacortes, Washington. The campus operates during the summer, offering courses in biology and marine biology. The campus also supports courses in scuba diving. The campus was purchased in 1954.[25][29]

Montana campuses

The school of social work and sociology operates two campuses in Montana, at Missoula and Billings, in support of its graduate program in social work. The Missoula campus opened in 1997, and the Billings campus opened in 2001.[25][30][31]

Student government

The Associated Students of Walla Walla University (ASWWU) was founded in 1914 as the Collegiate Association. They have published the school yearbook, Mountain Ash, beginning in 1915 as the Western Collegian, and since 1917 under its current title. They have published the school newspaper, The Collegian, published under that title since 1916. ASWWU has also published the school directory, The Mask, since 1954.[25][32]


The Walla Walla athletic teams are called the Wolves. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC) since the 2015–16 academic year. The Wolves previously competed as an NAIA Independent within the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) from 2008–09 to 2014–15, and in the Pacific Northwest College Conference (PNCC) from 1994–95 to 1999–2000. They also were a member in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) from 2004–05 to 2012–13; and in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) from 1997–98 to 2007–08.[33]

Walla Walla competes in eight intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include basketball, cross country, golf and soccer; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf and volleyball.[34]

Club sports

Unofficially, Walla Walla was affiliated with a men's ice hockey team, called the Wolfpack.[35]

Campus Ministries

The Chaplain's Office of the university includes departments of Campus Ministries and Student Missions.

Student Missions

While Walla Walla University students have been involved in mission work from the very beginning, the modern Walla Walla University Student Missions program began in 1960 when they sent out their first student missionaries overseas. Today, Walla Walla University sends out between 50 and 90 student missionaries (SMs) each year, to locations around the world. Many Seventh-day Adventist schools in Micronesia are staffed primarily by Walla Walla University student missionaries.[4][36][37]

Notable people

See also: Category:Walla Walla University alumni

Alumni of WWU include business people such as Jeri Ellsworth, Peter Adkison and Forrest Preston, ornithologist Pamela C. Rasmussen, ophthalmologist and Order of Canada recipient Howard Gimbel, theologian Alden Thompson, and former lieutenant governor of Guam Michael Cruz.

See also


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2019. "U.S. and Canadian 2019 NTSE Participating Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2019 Endowment Market Value, and Percentage Change in Market Value from FY18 to FY19 (Revised)". National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Walla Walla University Facts". Walla Walla University. 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  3. ^ a b Schwarz, Richard W.; Greenleaf, Floyd (1979). Light Bearers: A History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Revised ed.). Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press. pp. 192–4. ISBN 0-8163-1795-X.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "A brief history of Walla Walla University". Walla Walla University. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Shultz, Dan (2007). "Music at Walla Walla University". International Adventist Musicians Association. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Nash, Sid. "Walla Walla University". Adventist Archives. Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b Knight, George R. (1996). "Seventh-day Adventist Higher Education in the United States". In Carper, James C. (ed.). Religious Higher Education in the United States: A Source Book. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780815316367.
  8. ^ Strobel, Kim (3 May 2016). "Walla Walla University Opens Race and Ethnicity Studies Center". Adventist Review. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  9. ^ "A college by any other name: Adventist school in Washington State follows 'university' trend". Adventist News Network. September 3, 2007.
  10. ^ "Presidents of Walla Walla University". Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Directory". Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i "2019-2020 Undergraduate Bulletin". Walla Walla University. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Areas of Study".
  14. ^ "Governance Handbook" (PDF). July 1, 2015.
  15. ^ "Renovated space for School of Business". 19 December 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  16. ^ "School of Education and Psychology". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Edward F. Cross School of Engineering". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Walla Walla University". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  19. ^ "School of Nursing". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  20. ^ Spurgeon, Kristi (1 July 2006). "A Hand of God The Wilma Hepker School of Social Work and Sociology". GleanerNow. North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  21. ^ "School of Social Work and Sociology". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  22. ^ "School of Theology". Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Department of Biological Sciences". Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Chronology of University Events". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  25. ^ "Campus Map". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Our Stations". Positive Life Radio. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  27. ^ "Portland Campus Housing". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  28. ^ "Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  29. ^ "Walla Walla University-Billings". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  30. ^ "Walla Walla University-Missoula". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  31. ^ "Associated Students of Walla Walla University". Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  32. ^ "Wolves Athletics History - Walla Walla University Athletics". Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  33. ^ "Walla Walla University Athletics". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  34. ^ Grumbois, Dave (2 March 1997). "Not Always Smooth Skating For Recreational Hockey Team -- '11Th Commandment' Calls Players To The Ice". Seattle Times. Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  35. ^ "Student Missions". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  36. ^ Huso, Emily (Summer 2018). "A World of Experience". Westwind. 37 (2): 10–13. Retrieved 14 September 2019.

46°02′48″N 118°23′26″W / 46.04667°N 118.39056°W / 46.04667; -118.39056