Pacific Lutheran University was founded in 1890 by a group of mostly Norwegian Lutherans from the Puget Sound region. They were led by the Reverend Bjug Harstad, who became PLU's first president. These pioneers recognized the important role that a Lutheran educational institution on the Western frontier of America could play in the emerging future of the region. They wanted the institution to help immigrants adjust to their new land and find jobs, but they also wanted it to produce graduates who would serve church and community. Education-and educating for service-was a venerated part of the Scandinavian traditions from which these pioneers came.|
Although founded as a university, the institution functioned primarily as an academy until 1918. It closed in 1918 and reopened in 1920 as Pacific Lutheran College. In 1920 PLC merged with Columbia College, which had been located in Everett. Pacific Lutheran College offered a two-year degree. Further consolidations occurred when Spokane College merged with PLC in 1929. Four-year baccalaureate degrees were first offered in education in 1939 and in the liberal arts in 1942.
The institution was reorganized as a university in 1960, reclaiming its original name.
Today Pacific Lutheran University is a comprehensive university with an enrollment of about 3,500 students. As a member of the Associated New American Colleges, PLU is committed to the integration of liberal arts studies and professional preparation. A dynamic academic program features five professional schools and selective graduate programs that maintain a strong liberal arts emphasis at their core. PLU is the only Northwest university to be listed every year within the top 15 Western region universities in the "Best Colleges" survey, published annually by U. S. News & World Report.
PLU has remained closely affiliated with the Lutheran church and is now a university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. PLU cherishes its dedication to educating for lives of service, as well as its distinguished and distinctive academic program that emphasizes curricular integration and active learning.
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