University Timeline


  • 1913

    Classes began September 13, 1913 in the Mennonite church on the corner of 13th Avenue and 8th Street in Nampa, Idaho. It was called the Idaho Holiness School, later to be named Northwest Nazarene College.

  • 1915

    The groundbreaking for the first building on what was to become the NNU campus took place in 1915.

  • 1916

    H. Orton Wiley became the first president of NNC in 1916. John C. Riley characterized him as “a scholar, a writer, a preacher, a teacher, and an administrator with a touch that both fitted his time and gave the college its character.”

  • 1917

    Harvard graduate Olive M. Winchester joined NNC’s Department of Hebrew and Bible Literature in 1917. She was referred to as “one of the foremost critical and exegetical scholars in the holiness movement.”

  • 1918

    Thomas Mangum, M.D., and his wife, Emily, took charge of the Medical Missionary Department in 1918. Their course offerings included first aid, nursing, hygiene and surgery.

  • 1923

    NNC founder Eugene Emerson was elected mayor of Nampa in 1923. His slogan was “post-election service is better than pre-election promises.”

  • 1926

    26-year-old Russell V. DeLong accepted a faculty position at NNC in 1926 to teach philosophy and theology. By the end of the year he became Acting President after President J.G. Morrison resigned to accept a position as Executive Missionary Secretary for the General Church of the Nazarene.

  • 1930

    Hattie E. Goodrich, head of the commercial department, led the nation in the Remington speed and accuracy test in 1930. She typed 73 words per minute for 15 minutes without error and was awarded a portable typewriter.

  • 1931

    The administration building was restructured in the summer of 1931. A second story and auditorium were added. Some of the work was done by students, including the manufacturing of over 100,000 bricks.

  • 1932

    R. Eugene Gilmore was inaugurated as NNC's 4th president in 1932.

  • 1932

    United States senator William E. Borah spoke to an audience in the new NNC auditorium on October 25, 1932. He spoke on economic issues, including his plan to cancel allied war debts in exchange for reduced armaments.

  • 1935

    Russel V. Delong returned as NNU's 5th president in 1935.

  • 1937

    The Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools voted full accreditation to NNC as a four-year institution on April 7, 1937.

  • 1941

    On the day that the United States declared war on Japan, President DeLong expressed confidence in the leadership of President Roosevelt and reminded the student body that staying in college would prepare them for leadership after the war.

  • 1942

    L.T. Corlett was inaugurated as NNC's 6th president in 1942.

  • 1942

    The Civil Aeronautics Authority established a Ground School at NNC in 1942 and offered studies in aviation for noncombat pilots.

  • 1946

    Thelma B. Culver became Academic Dean in 1946. She was the first woman to earn a Doctorate in Education from the University of Colorado.

  • 1948

    President Corlett taught a course for seniors in 1948 designed to help them make the transition after graduation from college into everyday life.

  • 1949

    History professor Francis Sutherland resigned to return to China as requested by the Nazarene Missionary Board in 1949. However, he was forced to postpone the assignment when the Communist movement took over China.

  • 1950

    Alumnus Byron Lee, army chaplain, died by enemy fire in the Korean War in 1950. Professor Sutherland wrote: “we cannot know the full story of the comfort and help his presence there may have brought to the boys facing the agonizing situation of the battle line.” The NNC athletic complex was later dedicated in his memory.

  • 1952

    John E. Riley became NNC’s 7th president in 1952.

  • 1961

    The National Science Foundation granted NNC $37,000 to develop the mass spectrometer in 1961.

  • 1963

    Idaho Governor Robert E. Smylie spoke at convocation in 1963. He was quoted as saying “Idaho needs you and your college. Your vision and spirituality help lead us through the labyrinth of problems which often defy logic.”

  • 1973

    Kenneth H. Pearsall was inaugurated as NNC's 8th president in 1973.

  • 1974

    150 educators from southwest Idaho surprised Dean Emerita Thelma B. Culver by honoring her for her contribution to education in 1974.

  • 1978

    Oxford Hall was renamed Sutherland Hall in 1978 in remembrance of Francis Sutherland.

  • 1979

    Senator Frank Church addressed the student body at convocation in 1979. The students applauded his statement that he did not favor extending the draft for military service.

  • 1979

    NNC’s social work program received full accreditation by the Council on Social Work in 1979 through the effort of Professor Ben Sherrill, head of the department. NNC was the first liberal arts college in the Northwest to have an accredited program.

  • 1981

    Many students who chose to enroll in 1981 cited Bruce Webb, Director of Admissions, as the “deciding factor.” That year he sent out almost 5,000 handwritten letters and postcards.

  • 1982

    Jeff Hanway became the first NNC student to receive the honor of academic All-American in 1982. He was a premed student and soccer goalie with a 4.0 GPA.

  • 1983

    A. Gordon Wetmore was inaugurated as NNC's 9th president in 1983.

  • 1985

    Rick Hieb (’77) became one of 120 chosen for consideration by NASA in 1985. After the elimination process he became one of 13 astronauts to fly in space.

  • 1990

    Myron Finkbeiner became Director of Development in 1990 after 12 years as Executive Secretary of the NNC Alumni Association. His major accomplishment as Executive Secretary was the preservation of the Alumni House.

  • 1992

    Kurtz Park was annexed in 1992 as the result of a seven-year process. President Gordon Wetmore (1983-1992) said “The planning included building partnership with the city of Nampa, the Nampa school system and Mercy Medical Center. As a result NNC is being recognized as a force for community development.”

  • 1992

    Leon Doane became NNC’s 10th president in 1992.

  • 1993

    Dr. Gayman Bennett was inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993. His poem “The Young Southpaw Delivers” is on display next to his photograph in the hall.

  • 1994

    Dr. Richard A Hagood was inaugurated as the 11th President of NNC in 1994.

  • 1996

    The prayer chapel and garden were constructed in 1996 through the donations of Mr. Ralph Little.

  • 1997

    The Lady Crusaders were crowned the NAIA Women’s Division II National Champions in 1997. Coach Roger Schmidt was named national Coach of the Year.

  • 1999

    Northwest Nazarene College became Northwest Nazarene University September 1, 1999.

  • 2001

    NNU was among the first universities in Idaho to go wireless in 2001.

  • 2009

    Ashley Puga swept the Women's 800 Meter Run and Mile Runs title at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in February of 2009. In March she took the National NCAA Division II indoor 800 race and later the Outdoor Championship. Ashley was declared All-American five times during her time at NNU.

  • 2009

    Dr. David Alexander was inaugurated as NNU’s 12th president in 2009.

  • 2013

    The Northwest Nazarene University Centennial Celebration begins in the Fall of 2012 and culminates in the Fall of 2013. NNU starts its second century with the continued mission to instill habits of heart, soul, mind and strength to enable each student to become God's creative and redemptive agent in the world.

  • 2014

    Adding onto the John E. Riley Library, the Leah Paterson Learning Commons construction is completed. The new 57,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to assisting students as they learn and educators as they teach.

  • 2015

    Howard and Mary Conrad, long time supporters of NNU, make a transformational gift to the university that exceeds $18 million dollars.

  • 2016

    Following a one year term as interim president, Joel Pearsall accepts a four-year term as president in March 2016.

  • 2017

    Idaho’s first satellite, MakerSat-0, is scheduled to launch into space aboard a Delta II rocket at 2:47 a.m. MST Tuesday, Nov. 14, from Vandenberg Air Force Base.