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A Lewis & Clark education isn’t like anything you could experience anywhere else. We’re a private institution with a public conscience, a residential campus with global reach. Students and faculty throughout all three of Lewis & Clark’s schools—the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Education and Counseling, and the Law School—pursue new ways of knowing by combining classic liberal learning with pioneering collaboration. Our students represent the next generation of global thinkers and leaders, unafraid to discard conventional thinking, civic complacency, and outmoded preconceptions.
Yet they value what Lewis & Clark offers: an education built from the time-tested elements of careful study, original research, and spirited debate. So what makes the experience of our students unique? How about the inspiring beauty of our natural setting, on 137 wooded acres in Portland’s southwest hills. Or our rich history and our diverse, multicultural present. Or our commitment to interdisciplinary academic learning, as well as community engagement here in Portland and around the world. Add to this our well-stocked libraries, award-winning green buildings, and outstanding athletic facilities; our implementation of technology and the innovative research it allows; and above all our committed and engaged students, teachers, mentors, staff, alumni, donors, and friends. It all adds up to Lewis & Clark, a place where agile minds come to learn, to explore, and to work together.
Lewis & Clark’s journey from pioneer vision to premier institution of higher education began in 1867, 60 miles south of present-day Portland. In that year, the Presbytery of Oregon secured a charter from the state legislature. The church partnered with the town of Albany to fund and build a two-story building on the town’s College Square site, and a school was born.
Albany Collegiate Institute, as it was first known, educated women and men equally within a common curriculum that focused on the classics and traditional courses. The first class graduated in 1873.
In 1905 the trustees officially adopted the name Albany College, transferred ownership to the Synod of Oregon, and established the bachelor of arts degree.
In 1934 Albany College opened a lower-division extension in Portland. Enrollment grew so rapidly on the extension campus that in 1938 the trustees voted to move all operations to Oregon’s urban center. They persuaded Morgan Odell, a widely respected scholar of religion and philosophy, to assume the presidency of the institution in 1941. The following year, through a gift-sale made possible by the generosity of the Lloyd Frank family, the trustees acquired a tract of 63 acres in Portland’s southwest hills. The deeply forested landscape was home to Fir Acres, a grand estate developed in the 1920s by Lloyd Frank and designed by Herman Brookman.
To mark the transformation made possible by the acquisition of the Frank estate, the trustees sought a new name. They unanimously selected Lewis & Clark College as a “symbol of the pioneering spirit that had made and maintained the College,” thereby grounding the future of the institution in a heritage of exploration and discovery.
In the decades that followed, Lewis & Clark greatly enhanced its undergraduate studies. From the Fir Acres campus—now known as the undergraduate campus—the College of Arts and Sciences launched innovative academic and experiential initiatives such as its overseas and off-campus study program, gender studies program, international studies, collaborative research between faculty and students, rigorous interdisciplinary studies, and student-initiated projects—funded by student fees—in the arts, sciences, and humanities.
Lewis & Clark’s law school, founded in Portland in 1884 as the state’s law school, reorganized as the private Northwestern College of Law in 1915. In 1965 the school merged with Lewis & Clark and was renamed Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College. Soon after, the law school built a new campus just west of the undergraduate campus. During the 1970s, the law school emerged from the position of a highly respected regional institution to that of national prominence, distinguished for its legal education, research, and service.
Lewis & Clark educated teachers from its earliest days. In 1984, the institution consolidated postgraduate programs in education, counseling psychology, and public administration into what is now the Graduate School of Education and Counseling. The public administration program was transferred to Portland State University in 1996. In 2000, Lewis & Clark purchased from the Sisters of Saint Francis an 18-acre estate immediately south of the undergraduate campus. It is now home to the graduate school, which is known for developing thoughtful leaders, innovative decision makers, and agents of positive change in the fields of education and counseling. In 2004 the school initiated a program leading to a doctorate in educational leadership, and the first cohort received degrees in 2007.
In 1966, almost 100 years after Albany Collegiate Institute was chartered, Lewis & Clark and the Synod of Oregon agreed to sever their formal bonds. While affirming its historic ties to the Presbyterian Church, Lewis & Clark became an independent institution with a self-perpetuating board of trustees.
Today, as global thinkers and leaders, Lewis & Clark students, faculty, alumni, and staff thrive as they explore new ways of knowing, develop innovative collaborations, and strengthen civic leadership. In doing this they embrace and promote the shared objectives that draw the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Education and Counseling, and the School of Law to a common endeavor, and that form Lewis & Clark’s official motto: Explorare, Discere, Sociare (to explore, to learn, to work together).