PORTLAND — A college since its founding in 1937, Warner Pacific last month became a university instead.
The Portland-based Christian school of about 1,400 students announced Jan. 18 that it had adopted university status. In so doing, it follows the lead taken by many other Christian institutions of higher learning in the Northwest, including Seattle Pacific, George Fox, Corban, Multnomah Concordia and Northwest Christian.
And in another notable step, Warner Pacific also announced that it will cut its annual tuition and fees by $5,880 starting this fall. The approximate 24 percent decrease will bring the tuition level to $18,660, making Warner Pacific the most affordable private school in Oregon, according to The Oregonian.
According to President Andrea Cook, the new name more accurately reflects the growth and development that Warner Pacific has experienced in recent years.
“The word ‘university’ reflects a new era at Warner Pacific,” she said. “It better encompasses the scope of the programs we now offer and the scale of what our graduates are achieving. Our students, as well as our faculty and staff have earned our place in this sphere and we know it’s where we belong.”
The change recognizes increased academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level, according to Cook. She said becoming Warner Pacific University also will clarify the position of the institution to international students and those whose language of origin is not English, where “college” often refers to high school or secondary level education.
Established as Pacific Bible College in 1937 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.) in Spokane, Wash., the school moved to Portland in 1940 and became Warner Pacific College in 1959.
For nearly a decade, Warner Pacific has been recognized for a commitment to diversity in higher education, with 63 percent of students coming from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Warner Pacific serves undergraduate and graduate students at campuses throughout Portland and southwest Washington, as well as online. The university offers more than 30 majors.
Cook said the tuition reduction means more students will be able to enroll at Warner Pacific and finish their college education while accumulating less debt. “We are committed to providing educational access to students from diverse backgrounds, especially those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Cook. “Many of our students need to balance their college experience with work, life, and family responsibilities. As a Christ-centered university, we believe in equal access to education for all. “For us, this is more than a justice issue, it’s a Jesus issue.”
Warner Pacific offers a unique learning environment in the state of Oregon, with 63 percent of students coming from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. This year, 57 percent of the student body are the first in their families to attend college.
The tuition decrease is accompanied by a reconfiguration of financial aid providing a savings for many new and continuing students, as there will be a reduced reliance of unsubsidized parent loans and private student loans.
Warner Pacific this year is launching new programs giving practical focus to the liberal arts, including medical lab science, nursing, digital media and communications, criminal justice, sports medicine, population health and gerontology. Graduate programs are offered in education, business, ministry and music.