About Willamette University

Highlights from Willamette's History

2010 - Present

2010
The Willamette community heard from two notable people through the Atkinson Lecture Series: novelist John Irving, author of “The World According to Garp” and “The Cider House Rules”; and New York Times journalist David Rohde, who was kidnapped and held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Willamette was one of only six colleges and universities nationwide to receive the Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Presidential Award, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement.
In May, Willamette awarded 410 bachelor’s degrees in the College of Liberal Arts, 69 MBA degrees in the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, 138 JD and LLM degrees in the College of Law, and 96 MAT and MEd degrees in the Graduate School of Education.
Marlene Moore was appointed as the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
In late August, 432 new first-year and 47 transfer students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts. Willamette also welcomed 161 first-year law students, 97 new MBA students, 84 new MAT students and 12 new MEd students.
The renovated playhouse debuted in the fall after undergoing a $5.6-million overhaul of the building’s infrastructure, creating a black box theatre and labs for theatre combat training, dance, costumes, acting, prosthetics, digital media and set design.
Willamette had its 10th professor since 1990 win Oregon Professor of the Year: Karen McFarlane Holman, associate professor of chemistry.
The Graduate School of Education became a stand-alone school and earned accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
2011
Former President M. Lee Pelton left Willamette after 13 years of distinguished leadership that helped the university attract some of the best faculty and brightest students while increasing its profile nationwide.
Stephen E. Thorsett became the 25th president of Willamette on July 1. He served previously as the dean of the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz. A noted physicist and astronomy scholar and son of a Willamette professor emeritus, Thorsett returned to Salem and the campus where he spent much of his childhood.
Two highly acclaimed writers visited Willamette as part of the Atkinson Lecture Series: New York Times political columnist David Brooks and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks.
College of Law Dean Symeon C. Symeonides stepped down from his position as dean to focus on teaching and writing full-time. Associate Dean Peter Letsou was named dean.
In May, Willamette awarded 420 bachelor’s degrees to graduates from the College of Liberal Arts; 157 MBA degrees in Atkinson Graduate School of Management; 131 JD and LLM degrees in the College of Law; and 89 MAT and MEd degrees in the Graduate School of Education.
Julie Gess-Newsome became the new dean of the Graduate School of Education.
In August, 623 new members of the class of 2015 enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts. Willamette also welcomed 150 first-year law students; 99 new MBA students; 66 new MAT students and 10 new MEd students.
World-renowned primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall visited in October to discuss the power of youth in the global environmental movement.
2012
The Board of Trustees installed Stephen E. Thorsett as the university’s 25th president on Feb. 10. The ceremony in Smith Auditorium was marked by music and speeches of welcome from representatives of Oregon’s Native American tribes, state and local government and numerous higher education institutions.
More than 200 Willamette University students, faculty and staff joined flood-abatement efforts throughout Salem in January when rainstorms caused the Willamette River to crest at 30 feet — two feet below a major flood stage.
Sixteen years after joining Willamette University’s football coaching staff, Glen Fowles ’96 was named the team’s new head coach Jan. 17. He replaced Mark Speckman, who resigned to become head football coach at Menlo College in California.
In May, Willamette awarded 427 bachelor's degrees to graduates from the College of Liberal Arts; 120 MBA degrees in Atkinson Graduate School of Management; 133 JD and LLM degrees in the College of Law; and 86 MAT and MEd degrees in the Graduate School of Education.
Former Bearcat runner Nick Symmonds ’06 set a personal record time at the London Olympics in August while taking fifth place in the final of the 800-meter run.
In August, Willamette welcomed one of its most diverse College of Liberal Arts classes in university history. The 530 students in the class of 2016 came from 23 states and four countries, and one third came from traditionally under-represented groups. Willamette University’s three graduate schools of education, law and management also welcomed more than 300 new students for the 2012-13 academic year.
A new Multicultural Resource Center — aimed at creating dialogue and engagement on such topics as gender, ability, sexual identity and religion — opened in the fall after being championed by several students. The center is located in Ford Hall.
In December, Curtis Bridgeman was named the new dean of the university’s College of Law.