Northwest Christian University Transitions to Bushnell University

Northwest Christian University’s Board of Trustees have announced the University will officially change its name to Bushnell University on July 1, 2020.

“Over the years the University has progressed from one solely focused on ministry preparation to one offering a healthy liberal arts and professional studies curriculum that includes our long-standing ministerial education and training,” said Joseph D. Womack, Ed.D., the University’s President and an alumnus of the school. “To convey the breadth of our University’s innovative and robust undergraduate, adult, and graduate programs, the Board of Trustees formally approved the name Bushnell University in February 2018, in honor of founding President of the Board of Regents James A. Bushnell, when the University was known as Eugene Divinity School in 1895.”

Womack said that after Bushnell crossed the Oregon Trail, he was elected mayor of Junction City and was among the founders of a number of firsts in the area, including an early bank, a school and was one of the first teachers in the county, a power utility, performing arts center, grain co-op, chamber of commerce, and three churches, two of which are still serving the faithful today, and, of course, he joined forces with Dr. Eugene Sanderson in 1895 to found Eugene Divinity School.

“It is James Bushnell’s lasting legacy of deep faith, innovative spirit, grit, and commitment to service that represents the NCU of today and will guide the vision of  Bushnell University in the future,” Womack said.

As a reflection of Bushnell’s faith, innovative spirit, and grit, this academic year is the 12th out of the past 13 years that the University has achieved record student enrollment. Thirty eight percent of the University’s students are from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds, more than 25% of them are first generation college students, and students come to campus from 13 states. In addition, the University offers the lowest tuition among Oregon’s private colleges and universities, while graduating 97% of its traditional undergraduates in four years.

“Like James Bushnell, our students, alumni, faculty and staff are faithful, smart, hardworking, innovative and resilient,” said Michael Fuller, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Development. “As Bushnell University, we have a relatable personal legacy embodied in our University’s name that resonates with students and University supporters that will help us to continue to grow student enrollment.”

“Bushnell gives our University its own identity,” said Katia Burke, a junior interpersonal communication major from Sydney, Australia, and president of Associated Students of Northwest Christian University (ASNCU). “Overall, students are excited about the name change because being part of a University community that is growing and thriving is so special. It is an exciting time on our campus.”

While the University’s name will transition to Bushnell University, the University’s mission, vision, commitment to Christ-centered higher education, traditions, school colors and athletic team name (Beacons) does not.

“The mission of the University remains exactly the same: the pursuit of wisdom, centered on our faith in Jesus Christ, leading to lives of Christian service,” Womack said. “NCU is Bushnell University and Bushnell University is NCU.”

More than 4,000, students, alumni, supporters and others close to the University have been involved in the name change process.  Students and alumni participated in surveys and focus groups while supporters and others were engaged through one-on-one meetings, conversations, and correspondence.

“By design, our name change to Bushnell University has been the worst kept secret on campus for more than a year,” Fuller said. “Students, alumni and supporters have been involved in the transition from the beginning.”

On March 17, 2020, during weekly Chapel at 11 AM in the Morse Center, students will receive a special Bushnell University gift to help celebrate the name change and to start spring break.  A community celebration is scheduled for June 4, 2020. Find more information about NCU’s transition to Bushnell University.