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Pioneer Hall in the spring

Linfield's History

The early years

Pioneer Hall in the 1890sAlthough 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.

Expanding to Portland

history-nursing.jpgLinfield established its Portland campus in 1982, when the college entered into an affiliation with Good Samaritan Hospital and began offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing. The Good Samaritan nursing program traces its roots to 1890 and founder Emily Loveridge. With this heritage, Linfield’s program is the oldest continuously operated nursing school in the Pacific Northwest.

Whether the school was responding to the need for nurses to help victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake or providing medical care during World Wars I and II, nurses trained at Good Samaritan Hospital have responded to health care needs throughout the region, the country and the world. That tradition of excellence in nursing education continues.

"Linfield offers something students crave but rarely find: a sense of genuine community and wholehearted intellectual exchange."

—Interim President Rebecca L. Johnson

Linfield today

Today, Linfield is an independent nonprofit university, nationally recognized for its strong teaching faculty, outstanding science programs, collaborative learning environment and distinctive international emphasis.

With its McMinnville campus in the heart of wine country, Linfield has a strong partnership with the wine industry. The Oregon Wine History Archive was founded at Linfield in 2011 and the Center for Wine Education opened in 2018. The Center for Wine Education also features multiple undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs. 

On July 1, 2020, Linfield officially became Linfield University with a College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business, both on the McMinnville campus, and the School of Nursing on Portland's campus. Building on a legacy from 30 years ago, Linfield is expanding its graduate offerings in nursing, businesseducation and sports science.

Another shift happened in February 2023 with the opening of the Linfield University Science Complex, featuring the W.M. Keck Science Center as well as significant renovations to Graf and Murdock halls. The 84,400-square-foot science complex features teaching labs, areas for research and spaces dedicated to wine studies. With a 232% increase in research space, the complex is built to provide state-of-the-art learning and collaborative research for generations to come.

And while Linfield’s structure will continue to evolve over the coming years, a Linfield education is unchanging. Linfield University remains a small, high-quality, liberal arts institution. The uncommon experiences that make up a Linfield education – the unique learning opportunities, understanding of new cultures and perspectives, and exploration of passions – will continue to thrive and grow.

Join us for an exciting new era, as Linfield builds a brighter future for our students, alumni and communities across the world.

Welcome to Linfield University.

This is just the beginning

More exciting changes lie ahead

Portrait of Becky Johnson.

Linfield begins search for the next president

Miles Davis announces his departure, Becky Johnson is named interim president and plans are set to search for a new president.

An archived document with torn edges.

Visit the digital archive

Learn more about Linfield's history by visiting the library's digital archive.

aerial photo of the new science complex.

Linfield opens new science complex

The science facility project doubles the previous amount of space devoted to biology, chemistry, physics and other sciences.

Linfield University

Land Acknowledgment

At Linfield, we recognize that the land that our physical campuses are located on were the traditional territories of the “Yam Hill” band of the Kalapuya people in McMinnville and the Chinookan peoples known as the Clackamas and Cascade Tribes in Portland. In January 1855, the people of these tribes were forcibly removed from the land after the signing of the Willamette Valley Treaty. They are now among 30 tribes and bands that make up the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.