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Celebrating 175 years by becoming first for the future

To commemorate the 175th anniversary of Willamette’s founding, our community has the opportunity to reflect on the university’s long - and in many places, complex – history, and recognize how much Willamette, Oregon and higher education have evolved over the years.

Willamette’s earliest roots can be traced to the interactions between Methodist missionaries and the Native peoples of the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Northwest. A lack of cultural understanding on the part of the missionaries contributed significantly to the failure of the mission school that was located on what became today's Willamette’s campus. The missionaries founded the Oregon Institute in 1842 to serve the children of white settlers, and the Indian Manual Training School ceased operations in 1844.  The Oregon Institute, which later became Willamette University, occupied the same building as the Indian School, until it was destroyed by fire in 1872.

In the present, it is the hope of the Willamette community that a dialogue between the university and the Willamette Valley tribes of today can be continued and nurtured. Through the work of our faculty, staff, students and community partners, this dialogue has the opportunity to build positive relationships that will last many years to come – and set an example for inclusivity and tolerance.

First in the West, first for the future

In becoming thoughtful citizens of the world, Willamette students recognize the hardships faced by previous generations, actively contribute to addressing the issues that face the world today and prepare for the challenges to come. Being “future first” not only means preparing a vision for what we hope to become, it is also involves an understanding and appreciation for where we have been.

As the Willamette community, we ready students through a series of firsts:

Putting students first

Students are the center of the Willamette community. Our faculty and staff members make every effort to help students be successful.

Putting academics first

Willamette students are involved, busy and unafraid of taking risks.  They are outstanding scholars who have unparalleled opportunities to work on projects, research alongside faculty members and take initiative to start their own organizations. Whether through research, the arts, athletics, internships, externships, experiential projects — or a combination of pursuits — Willamette students are active contributors to the community.

Putting others first

The Willamette ethic compels students and faculty members to create a community of trust where learning, growth and the free exchange of ideas can flourish. Nowhere is this exemplified more than in the university’s deeply held motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born.”

Putting the world first

Civic engagement is at the heart of the Willamette experience, exemplified by the university’s location across from the Oregon State Capitol, partnership with Tokyo International University and the long history of service and leadership by Willamette graduates. As the world has become more interconnected and global, Willamette’s campus remains the perfect launchpad.

Putting the future first

Each member of the Willamette community has a unique personal story to tell. Continuing to strengthen Willamette as an inclusive place allows the community to move forward together with students as our priority.