A desire to educate their own children led the founders of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU), under leadership of Eugene Emerson, to organize an elementary school in 1913. In the ensuing two years, both high school and college courses were added to the curriculum. Thus began Northwest Nazarene University, a fully-accredited, co-educational, Christian comprehensive University of the arts, humanities, sciences, and professions.
The groundbreaking for the first building on what was to become the NNU campus took place in 1915.
In 1915, the first student graduated from high school, and a year later Dr. H. Orton Wiley was elected President. The first degrees were conferred upon a class of four graduates in 1917.
Academic progress has been notable, including accreditation as a junior college in 1931 and as a four-year college in 1937. Master's programs were added in the mid-sixties. The name of the institution was changed from Northwest Nazarene College to Northwest Nazarene University in 1999. NNU changed from quarters to semesters, May, 2000.
The university presently offers over 60 areas of study, 18 master's degrees in seven different disciplines and two doctoral degrees. In addition to its 90-acre campus located in Nampa, Idaho, the university also offers programs online as well as in Idaho Falls and in cooperation with programs in 35 countries. Northwest Nazarene serves over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, more than 6,000 continuing education students, and over 2,300 high school students through the concurrent credit program. The President of the University is Joel K. Pearsall, who became President in 2015.
NNU's campus today.