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Willamette University
Salem, OR - 97301
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About Us

Willamette University
Salem, OR  97301, United States

Willamette is a nationally renowned private liberal arts university in Salem, Oregon. Founded in 1842, Willamette is the first university established in the western U.S. and has become a national leader in sustainability and civic engagement.

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Our beautiful, historic campus  located across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and co-located with Tokyo International University of America  features a residential undergraduate College of Liberal Arts and two professional graduate schools: the College of Law and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

Through small classes, close student-faculty relationships, a commitment to collaborative research and a variety of programs to meet individual student objectives, we provide an environment where teaching and learning flourish.

Mission Statement

Willamette University provides rigorous education in the liberal arts and selected professional fields. Teaching and learning, strengthened by scholarship and service, flourish in a vibrant campus community. A Willamette education prepares graduates to transform knowledge into action and lead lives of achievement, contribution and meaning.

University motto

Non nobis solum nati sumus — Not unto ourselves alone are we born

Core Themes

Willamette University is a community

1. Of collaborative educators committed to rigorous education.

2. That cultivates an authentic engagement with place.

3. That promotes transformation of knowledge into action in ways that lead to lives of achievement, contribution and meaning.

Distinguished Faculty

Our professors stand out nationally for their dedication to teaching, distinguished scholarly work and positive influence on students’ lives.

In fact, teaching only scratches the surface in describing what they do. They engage, challenge, guide and collaborate with students, both in and out of the classroom — creating relationships that continue long after graduation.

And they’re among the best at it — 11 of the 26 Oregon Professors of the Year are from Willamette’s undergraduate program, a record unmatched by any school on the West Coast.

Our graduate faculty are equally distinguished — the Aspen Institute recognized the achievements of faculty at Atkinson Graduate School of Management, and the College of Law’s faculty include some of the country’s most respected legal scholars as well as talented lawyers and jurists.

The Capitol: Our Extended Campus

While the Willamette University campus officially comprises 60 acres (plus 305 at our Zena Forest), it also extends to the Oregon State Capitol, courts and state agencies just to our north.

No other college or university in the Pacific Northwest offers such direct access to state policymaking — which benefits all of our programs, graduate and undergraduate.

Only a crosswalk away, the epicenter of Oregon government and policy provides another set of labs and classrooms where our students explore and implement the ideas they’re learning from their professors — whether they intern for policymakers, conduct primary source research in the Oregon State Archives, make law recommendations to the legislature or work side-by-side with the state’s top scientists and economists.

And the members of our extended campus don’t hesitate to cross State Street to take advantage of Willamette’s resources. You’ll regularly find lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and lobbyists here as they teach classes, consult with our professors and students, and simply have lunch (our neighbors like our food, too).

Colleges That Change Lives

The popular guide, “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges,” named Willamette among an elite group of schools that provide hands-on academic experiences that cultivate critical thinking and creativity; professors dedicated to mentorship; and lively, diverse opportunities for fun and personal growth.

These characteristics cited for Willamette’s undergraduate program — plus rich research opportunities and a dedication to the university motto — apply equally to our graduate schools of law and management.

Here is just some of what CTCL had to say about Willamette:

“Willamette is a rising star — a place that does its work well and has momentum to claim its rightful spot among the few colleges in this country that prioritize undergraduate education.”

Willamette students “happily skip the prestige mill in exchange for honest mentorship, a rich array of hands-on experiences, and liberal learning that cultivates critical thinking and values. You would do well to join them.”

Global Programs

When you hear the booming taiko drums underscoring the festivities at campus events, or you breeze past students chatting in Japanese by the Mill Stream, you might start to question whether you’ve been transported from Salem to Japan.

These are just some of the outcroppings of Willamette’s unique 50-year connection with Tokyo International University, a partnership that brings more than 100 Asian students a year to campus and opens rare doors for Willamette students to study and research in Japan.

We provide unparalleled opportunities for cultural and language exchanges — and you don’t always have to travel far to get them (just ask the Atkinson Graduate School of Management about its unusually large international student population).

But jet-setting is also integral to what we do. About half of our undergrads study or conduct research abroad. Our faculty and students find meaningful ways to extend their education worldwide — whether it’s archaeology majors excavating at an ancient site in Scotland, or law students honing their Spanish while studying foreign legal systems in Ecuador.


Our location in the Northwest and Oregon’s Willamette Valley — known for its fertility and abundant beauty — makes us uniquely situated to pursue connections with sustainability and the environment.

In fact, our dedication to environmental responsibility led The Princeton Review to name us one of the country’s top 15 Green Colleges.

The countless learning opportunities available at our nearby 305-acre Zena Forest are just one example of our focus on place-based research and activity. Specialized programs at all of our schools — including the College of Law’s sustainable law certificate and a sustainability management area of interest in our MBA program — allow for a critical approach to creating a more sustainable society.

Willamette Traditions

What would a college campus be without its own traditions? Here’s a look at some of Willamette’s unique happenings.

Star Trees: Planted in 1942, these five giant Sequoias are the largest on any college or university campus in the U.S. Walk into the middle of them and look up to see a star-shaped sky — and campus lore says that if sweethearts share a kiss there, they might be destined for marriage.

Mill Stream: The Mill Stream running through the heart of campus is the place to see and be seen on sunny days. Students usually stay away on their birthdays, or else their friends might throw them in.

Wulapalooza: Take some talented student bands, add in a few national acts, douse it with glitter and bubbles, and you’ve got Wulapalooza. This spring-time, student-run art and music festival gives everyone a chance to let loose before finals.

Bistro: Whether they’re picking up a latté on the way to class, studying for an exam, catching up with friends or performing at open mic night, students and professors often cite the student-run Bistro as one of their favorite hangouts.

Matriculation: Our undergraduates begin their college journeys by floating candles down the Mill Stream during Matriculation at Opening Days. The moving points of light symbolize their varied paths through Willamette.

Midnight Breakfast: Willamette professors and staff members serve up eggs, bacon and pancakes at Midnight Breakfast, a late-night study-break event for students during finals.

Student Scholarship Recognition Day: On this day every spring, we cancel classes so that our undergraduates can present their research and creative work to the campus community. Their classmates and professors pack the audience.

Naked Run: You might see one of our most notorious traditions if you visit campus during our final admitted student Bearcat Day in the spring. Let’s just say it involves a lot of body paint.

Brownwater Regatta: Every spring, students and faculty in the Willamette MBA program celebrate the end of the academic year with a series of events, including tubing down the Mill Stream.

TGIT: Thank Goodness It's Thursday is an informal gathering, once each term, for College of Law students, staff and faculty. Everyone puts down their laptops and books to enjoy a couple hours of fun and camaraderie in Rick's Cafe.

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