History of OSU
Founded in 1858 as a small, private academy called Corvallis College, Oregon State University has developed into an internationally recognized public research university.
College-level courses were introduced into the curriculum about 1865, and two men and one woman fulfilled the requirements for baccalaureate degrees in 1870, becoming the first graduates of a state-assisted college in the western United States.
Signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862, the Morrill Act provided grants of land to be used by states for the sole purpose of endowing, supporting and maintaining public colleges. The Oregon Legislative Assembly designated Corvallis College as the state’s land grant institution on October 27, 1868. This was the first state support for higher education in Oregon. Permanent adoption as the state’s agricultural college came in 1870.
For many years, the institution was known as Oregon Agricultural College. The name was changed to Oregon State College in 1953 and to Oregon State University in 1961.
Following designation of the college as a land grant institution, agriculture was added to the existing arts and science curriculum in 1869. The curriculum continued to expand, with professorships in commerce (1880), agriculture (1883), household economy (1889) and engineering (1889) resulting in the establishment in 1908 of the professional schools of commerce, agriculture, engineering and mechanic arts and domestic science and arts. The first summer session was also held in 1908.
Curricular growth continued with the schools of forestry (1913), mines (1913), pharmacy (1917), education (1918), basic arts and sciences (1922) and health and physical education (1931).
In 1932, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education established the School of Science for the state system at Corvallis, eliminated the School of Mines, and reduced the School of Health and Physical Education to a division. Major work in business administration was discontinued, but was reinstated when the College of Business was established (first as a division) in 1943. The College of Liberal Arts was established (as the School of Humanities and Social Sciences) in 1959. The Department of Oceanography was established in 1959, became the School of Oceanography in 1972 and the College of Oceanography in 1983. In 1992, the Department of Atmospheric Sciences in the College of Science was merged with the College of Oceanography and renamed the following year as the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. In 2011, the Department of Geosciences in the College of Science was merged with COAS, and the college renamed the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. The College of Health and Physical Education (now the College of Public Health and Human Sciences) was reinstated (as a school) in 1974, and the College of Veterinary Medicine was established (as a school) the following year. In 1983, all schools of the university, except the School of Education, were re-designated as colleges. In 1989, the School of Education became a college. In 1991, the College of Education merged with the College of Home Economics, and within the College of Home Economics and Education, was renamed the School of Education. In 1995, the University Honors College was established. In 2002, the College of Health and Human Performance and the College of Home Economics and Education were merged into the College of Health and Human Sciences. As part of this restructuring, the new School of Education became an independent academic unit. In 2005, the School of Education was renamed the College of Education. The College of Health and Human Sciences was renamed the College of Public Health and Human Sciences in 2011.
Following the approval of legislation adopted by the 2013 Oregon Legislature, Oregon State University made the decision to have its own institutional board of trustees. That board was appointed by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in the fall of 2013 and assumed all of its official duties on July 1, 2014.
Presidents of the institution since its founding are:
William A. Finley, 1865–72;
Benjamin L. Arnold, 1872–92;
John M. Bloss, 1892–96;
Henry B. Miller, 1896–97;
Thomas M. Gatch, 1897–1907;
William Jasper Kerr, 1907–32;
George Wilcox Peavy, 1934–40;
Frank Llewellyn Ballard, 1940–41;
August Leroy Strand, 1942–61;
James Herbert Jensen, 1961–69;
Robert William MacVicar, 1970–84;
John V. Byrne, 1984–95;
Paul G. Risser, 1996–2002;
Edward J. Ray, August 2003–present.
Acting presidents of the institution since its founding are:
Joseph Emery, 1872
John D. Letcher, 1892
George Wilcox Peavy, 1932–34
Francois Archibald Gilfillan, 1941–42
Roy Alton Young, 1969–70
Timothy P. White, 2003
For more details, see http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/presidents.
For the Best of OSU Archives, see http://oregondigital.org/digcol/archives/index.html.