Marylhurst University

Marylhurst University
Former names
St. Mary's Academy and College
Marylhurst College
Motto Cor Sapientis Quaerit Doctrinam (Latin)
The heart of the wise seeks knowledge
Type Private
Established 1893
Affiliation Roman Catholic
(Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary)
Endowment $12.1 million[1]
President Dr. Melody Rose
Academic staff
Students 1,273
Undergraduates 696[2]
Postgraduates 577[2]
Location Marylhurst, Oregon, United States
45°23′54″N 122°38′46″W / 45.39833°N 122.64611°W / 45.39833; -122.64611Coordinates: 45°23′54″N 122°38′46″W / 45.39833°N 122.64611°W / 45.39833; -122.64611
Campus Suburban
63 acres (250,000 m2)
Colors Gold      and      Royal blue[3]

Marylhurst University is a private, nonprofit applied liberal arts and business university located in Marylhurst, Oregon, United States, nine miles (14 km) south of Portland on the Willamette River. It is among the oldest collegiate degree-granting institutions in Oregon, awarding its first degree in 1897. Marylhurst was founded originally as St. Mary's College and run for many years by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

The university offers bachelor's degree completion programs in diverse liberal arts and business fields, and graduate degrees in such fields as business administration, food systems and society, teaching, art therapy counseling, divinity and applied theology, and interdisciplinary studies. After its establishment in 1893, Marylhurst became the first women's liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest.


The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a Roman Catholic religious teaching congregation, arrived in Oregon in 1859.[3] The Sisters came to Oregon from Montreal at the request of the people and clergy of the city to serve their educational needs, and established St. Mary's Academy that year.[4]

St. Mary's College

In 1893, the group started St. Mary's Academy and College[4] as the first liberal arts college to serve the educational needs of Pacific Northwest women. The school was originally located in downtown Portland, Oregon, where St. Mary's Academy is still located.[3] The Sisters purchased 63 acres (250,000 m2) between Lake Oswego and West Linn in 1908. The Sisters named the pastoral land Marylhurst, which means "Mary's Woods". The college was moved to the new property in 1930, and St. Mary's was renamed Marylhurst College.[4] The following year, the school received its first accreditation from the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools.[5]

Marylhurst College

The BP John building at the effective center of campus

In 1959, Marylhurst College became an independent institution and formed a Board of Trustees, separate from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. In 1974, the college transitioned to a co-educational institution and it became the first liberal arts college in the United States to be designated as a college for lifelong learning.

The American Art Therapy Association has reviewed the program positively numerous times including 1991, 1996 and 2002.[6]

Beginning in 1996, US News & World Report's Guide to America's Best Colleges recognized Marylhurst as the best value in higher education among Western regional colleges and universities. The University has remained in the top tier for the Western Region in the US News & World Report college rankings since the mid-1990s.[7]

Marylhurst University

In 1998, Marylhurst College became Marylhurst University, Clackamas County's first university. Several new academic programs were added including a Master of Arts in Applied Theology program, a Bachelor of Music Therapy program, and a cooperative Doctor of Ministry degree program with San Francisco Theological Seminary. Beginning in 2003, Marylhurst University began being ranked as a "Best Value" in the 2003 US News & World Report college guide.

It was placed among the Best Universities - Master's (Western Region) in US News & World Report's Best Colleges 2005, but is currently (2014) unranked because it serves a non-traditional population. Marylhurst University was placed among the 50 Best Business Schools in Finance by the Princeton Review in 2008. Judith Johansen was named president of the university in 2008, and left in 2013.[8] In October 2009, the Portland Business Journal ranked the Marylhurst MBA #1 in total enrollment having the largest MBA program in Oregon.[9]


Marylhurst University offers nearly 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.[10] Marylhurst began the Master of Art Therapy program in 1986, the only accredited art therapy program in the Pacific Northwest. In 1990, Marylhurst inaugurated its Master of Business Administration program and a concentration in interior design was added to the art program. In 2002, the University began to offer a BFA in interior design.

As of November 2016, Marylhurst offers four online MBA programs: an MBA, an MBA in Healthcare Management, an MBA in Sustainability, and an MBA in Real Estate.[11]

The school also offers 12 shorter undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate, teacher endorsement certificate programs.[12]

Marylhurst has a dual enrollment agreement with Portland Community College[13] and Clackamas Community College.[14]

Events at Marylhurst

Beyond academics, Marylhurst University is a NW hub for music, art and cultural events featuring flagship events like the Summer on the Green (free outdoor concerts), or the Marylhurst Reading Series (with prominent authors and poets). In 2016, the university launched a comprehensive online platform ( focusing on upcoming events.

The Art Gym

Main article: The Art Gym

The Art Gym is a contemporary arts exhibition space located on campus. It was the brainchild of Kay Slusarenko, who was the art department chair for 20 years, from 1978 to 1998. With contemporaries Terri Hopkins and Paul Sutinen, she rallied the student body and community support to turn the unused gym into the cultural center that it is now. Each spring the gym displays the year's thesis projects. Since 1980, over 300 artists have shown their work at the gym.[15]

Oregon Sesquicentennial Film Festival

The Oregon Sesquicentennial Film Festival was held at Marylhurst University May 1–10, 2009.[16] The festival was a celebration of the history of Oregon film making. For the festival a 35mm projection booth was constructed on campus in the Villa Maria building. The opening night of the festival was at the Mission Theater with an on stage conversation between James Ivory and Gus Van Sant.[17]

The films shown at Marylhurst included Smoke Signals with director Chris Eyre in person; Marked Woman featuring Mayo Methot; Talk Radio with writer Tad Savinar in person; The Lusty Men (set in and partially shot at the Pendleton Round-up); City Girl by F.W. Murnau, shot on location in Athena, Oregon (with a score composed by John Paul[18] and performed by a string quartet; A Soldier's Tale by Penny Allen, and James Ivory's first international hit film Shakespeare Wallah, with James Ivory in person. The special Oregon Cartoon Institute day at the festival featured Bill Plympton.[19]


Although Marylhurst was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, it is a modern, progressive university serving students of all faiths and backgrounds. Religious observances are not required, and 32 different faiths are represented in the student body.[20]

Notable alumni


  1. America's Best Colleges 2008. "Christian Brothers University." U.S. News & World Report. Accessed October 1, 2007.
  2. 1 2 "Fast Facts". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  3. 1 2 3 "Marylhurst College". Student's Encyclopædia. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  4. 1 2 3 Songe, Alice H. (1978). American Universities and Colleges: A Dictionary of Name Changes. Scarecrow Press. p. 116.
  5. NWCCU Institutions of Oregon
  6. "American Art Therapy Association". 2013-10-31. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  7. "Best Colleges | College Rankings | US News Education". Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  8. Kish, Matthew (August 28, 2013). "Marylhurst President Judith Johansen resigns". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  9. Portland Business Journal, 11/16/2009
  10. "About Marylhurst". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  11. "Online degrees for today's professional". Marylhurst University. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  12. Richard, Read (2016-01-11). "Enrollment plunges at Marylhurst University, as feuds, financial losses threaten recovery". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  13. "PCC, PSU renew co-admission agreement". Portland Business Journal. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  14. "Paving the Path for Clackamas CC Students - Marylhurst University". Marylhurst University. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  15. Phinney/Bischoff Design House. "The Art Gym • Marylhurst University". Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  16. Pate, Karen (2009-04-22). "Oregon stars in festival of films at Marylhurst". Oregon Live. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  17. "Review: The Beaver State's film heritage: The Oregon sesquicentennial film festival".
  18. Hall, Kaitlyn (2014-10-14). "John Paul joins PLU as chair of music department". Mast Media. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  19. "Bill Plympton's Guide to Oregon Animation History, Part 1 Oregon Sesquicentennial Film Festival". Brown Paper Tickets. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  20. "Best Colleges | College Rankings | US News Education". Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  21. "Governor Barbara Roberts". Oregon Historical Society.
  22. "Mary F Sammons". Forbes.

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