By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Linfield considering name change to 'university'

Marcus Larson / News-Register##Linfield is considering changing its name to university to reflect new programs and planned graduate offerings.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Linfield is considering changing its name to university to reflect new programs and planned graduate offerings.
Rusty Rae / News-Register##
Greg Jones, head of the Linfield Wine Studies program, teaches a class
Wednesday. Wine studies is one of several new majors at the college,
which is adding programs with an eye toward graduate studies, as well.
Rusty Rae / News-Register## Greg Jones, head of the Linfield Wine Studies program, teaches a class Wednesday. Wine studies is one of several new majors at the college, which is adding programs with an eye toward graduate studies, as well.

Linfield College is considering changing its name to Linfield University as it prepares to add graduate programs and seeks to continue increasing enrollment.

President Miles Davis said he will present the name change proposal to the Board of Trustees when they meet next week. If the board grants tentative approval, with the intention of finalizing the change at its next meeting in mid-winter, the college will begin laying plans for changing signs, logos and memorabilia, such as Wildcat T-shirts and hats.

A university is an institution that offers graduate programs as well as undergraduate education in schools and colleges.

Linfield is working toward grad programs in health fields, as an expansion of its popular bachelor’s degree / registered nursing program; and in other areas, such as the wine studies program, which already is partnering with a university in France to offer a combined bachelor/master’s degree program that starts on the McMinnville campus and finishes with two years in Europe.

No matter whether it’s called a college or a university, though, Davis said Linfield will always retain its small-school friendliness and opportunities.

Davis sent an electronic survey to alumni Oct. 22. He said he received about 2,000 responses, and said most were overwhelmingly supportive of “Linfield University.”

Only about 7 percent responded negatively, most of them saying they are fine with the word “college.”

But the supporters said they like the idea of a university with a school of business, a school of nursing and a college of arts and sciences — the latter the moniker for the liberal arts campus in McMinnville.

Some asked why the change to “university” hasn’t happened earlier, Davis said. Some wondered whether Linfield would restart its master’s degree program in education, which was disbanded in the 1980s, in addition to starting new graduate opportunities.

Currently, Linfield uses the name college to describe its overall program, with the nursing bachelor’s degree program in Portland, started in 1982, labeled “the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing.”

Nursing and business majors make up the bulk of Linfield’s 2,200 students, Davis said — 65 percent overall, and 87 percent of those enrolled in online programs.

About 400 students are studying on the nursing campus in northwest Portland. Most start at the McMinnville campus, along with their peers in business and other programs, then transfer to Portland after two years.

In 2021, the nursing school, which is now at capacity, will move to expanded quarters in east Portland. Last year, Linfield purchased the 20-acre, 10 building campus of the University Western States chiropractic school.

Having additional space will mean room for more students, Davis said, and also a wider variety of health care degree programs and graduate studies — physical therapy, for example.

Experienced nurses would have more opportunities to return to school through Linfield’s online program to earn bachelor’s or advanced degrees. And there also will be more room for clinical practicums, required for students who want to become licensed.

Linfield was founded in 1858 by American Baptist Church members. Then known as McMinnville College, it held its first classes where the Baptist Church is now located, then built Pioneer Hall on its current site. The campus expanded in terms of both facilities and programs.

In 1922, it was renamed Linfield College in honor of the Linfield family, who were major donors.

After decades of offering a classical, basic education that trained primarily “teachers and preachers,” Linfield added a business major in 1927. Other majors followed, including those in sciences, social sciences, health and human performance, technology, languages and other fields, including the school of nursing in 1982.

Adding that first new major, business, was controversial, Davis said, as all change is. But change is necessary, he said, as a college must reflect the desires and needs of its students. 

The makeup of the student body is always evolving, he said, with more women, more students of color and more first-generation college students in recent years. One continuous thread has been students’ desire to have a defined career path -- a concrete way of determining a return for their investment in higher education.

“The intrinsic value will always be there,” Davis said, “but we’ve reached the point that people need to ask themselves, ‘What will I have when I graduate?’”

Comments

Joel

This sounds great. Linfield is fortunate to have a strong leader like Miles Davis who is willing to do what is necessary to position the school for a successful future. It's not easy to make these kinds of big changes in an institution. Much respect to Davis for stepping up and being a bold, courageous leader.