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Northwest University (Washington)

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Northwest University (Washington)

For other universities with a similar name, see Northwest University.
Northwest University
File:Northwest university transparent logo.png
Motto "Carry the Call: Heart, Head, Hand"
Established 1934 (1934)
Type Private, Nonprofit
Religious affiliation Assemblies of God USA
Endowment 9,252,855
President Joseph Castleberry, Ed. D.
Provost James Heugel, Ph.D.
Undergraduates 1,114
Postgraduates 176
Location Kirkland, Washington, United States
Campus Suburban, 56 acres
Former names Northwest Bible Institute, Northwest Bible College, Northwest College
Colors Dark Blue and Gold
Athletics NAIA
Sports Basketball
Cross Country
Track & Field
Nickname NU
Mascot Eagles
Affiliations Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Northwest University is a regionally accredited, Christian coeducational institution offering a wide variety of associate, baccalaureate, master's and doctorate degrees. It consists of the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Business and Management, the School of Education, the Mark and Huldah Buntain School of Nursing, the College of Ministry, and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The University is located in Kirkland, Washington, United States, a suburb of Seattle on the east side of Lake Washington. In addition, the university has a satellite campus, Northwest University - Salem Campus, located in Salem, Oregon.[1]

Northwest was started as a Bible Institute by the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God USA and is still operated under the control of the Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Northwest, Southern Idaho, and Wyoming districts of the Assemblies of God.

The mission of the university according to their website, “is to provide, in a distinctly Evangelical Christian environment, quality education to prepare students for service and leadership.”[2]


Early history

The idea for starting a Bible institute in the Northwest started in 1928 at an annual meeting of the Northwest District Council of the Assemblies of God. J.S. Secrist, a council member had presented the idea, but it wasn’t until the annual meeting in 1933 that his idea was adopted by council members from all of the states in the District.[3]

Meanwhile, a small church in Seattle called the Hollywood Temple had invited a young man from Fargo, North Dakota to be the pastor of the small ministry. Henry H. Ness accepted the invitation and moved his family to Seattle the same year. After only a few months, Ness had the impression from God that he should start a Bible school. Ness had started the North Central Bible Institute, now North Central University,[4] four years before moving to Seattle. He approached the Northwest District of the Assemblies of God about starting the institute and offered the Hollywood Temple as the campus. Later that year, Ness became the first president of Northwest Bible Institute and a man named C.C. Beatty became the first Dean and instructor. Charles E. Butterfield, and T.S. Sandall, both pastors from the Puget Sound area also taught a couple times a week. Other staff and faculty included Ruth Morris, an English teacher, Delbert Cox, who taught music, and Mrs. Christiansen, who volunteered as the Dean of Students.[3]

In 1949, Ness resigned his position almost overnight due to the political stress that he was facing in the Seattle area. After 5 months of searching for a new president, Charles Butterfield was appointed to the position. Along with the change in leadership came a change in the name of the Northwest Bible Institute to Northwest Bible College. In order to acquire accreditation, Butterfield required the faculty to have degrees or work to obtain them. He also made changes in the structure of the academics and administration so that the new college ran more like an educational institution focused on preparing people for a wide variety of ministries and vocations. By 1952, the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges gave full accreditation to Northwest Bible College, and the United States Department of Education recognized them as a school of higher learning.[3]

The early 1950s also came with some conflict with Hollywood Temple which had changed its name to Calvary Temple. Except for a few years around the time that Ness had resigned, the college had been expanding as had the church. Even with the acquisition of other buildings for dorms and the building of a new sanctuary for the church, the space was very limited. They started a campus fund in 1952 with $112.41. In 1955, the city of Seattle proposed the new I-5 freeway that would cut through the middle of campus. Butterfield knew that they needed a new place to go. Through many travels and visitations, he came to an old military ship building facility and housing project on the east side of Lake Washington. As he prayed, he felt that God was promising this location as the future campus of Northwest Bible College. He pursued the purchase of the land and structures, but was rejected. Finally in 1958, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare awarded Northwest Bible College twenty-two and one-thirds acres at no cost. The college purchased an additional 12 acres (49,000 m2) for 30,000 dollars. That summer, construction began and finished with 4 buildings designed by Butterfield’s son, Robert. H.J. Secrist, son of J.S. Secrist, volunteered as the construction manager with all other laborers volunteering their time as well. Classes began on September 28, 1959 and within a few years the campus had expanded to women and men’s dormitories, a cafeteria, a student center, and a gymnasium.[3]

At the end of the 1966 school year, D.V. Hurst became the third president of Northwest College. Hurst significantly improved the existing networks established by the Assemblies of God in the Northwest. He began holding info sessions for each district, allowing juniors and seniors to ask questions and meet with their district leaders. He was also the first to produce a hard copy of the policies and procedures of the college in a manual he gave to the faculty.

1984 marked the 50 year anniversary of Northwest. To commemorate the event, the Lay Council presented the school with a 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) Ebenezer Stone of Remembrance as a visible sign of thanks to God for the last 50 years. They presented it on May 27, 1984, the same day that 173 graduates received their degrees bringing the total number of graduates to 3,460. Don Argue, the president of North Central Bible College was the speaker for graduation.

Northwest College also extended a 20 year lease to the Seattle Seahawks team in 1984 on a 12-acre (49,000 m2) plot of undeveloped land on the west side of campus. The Seahawks signed the lease and built 3 fields, a bubble to house the artificial turf field, and a 36,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) office complex. The Seahawks remained at the facilities until 2008 when they moved to a larger facility in Renton, Washington.

After almost 25 years as the president of Northwest College, Hurst decided to retire in the summer of 1990. The school had seen physical development, spiritual direction, and academic advance under his guidance and leadership. The board of directors unanimously elected pastor and Superintendent of AG Oregon District Dennis A. Davis to be the fourth president of Northwest College. Above all else, Davis was committed to the highest spiritual aspect of the students, saying that “The challenge of the college is to always strengthen the academic programs in response to the mission and purpose of the college and to fulfill that mission and never to detour from it.” He invited the students, faculty, and staff to gather on Wednesday mornings for prayer, a tradition that still continues, and offered an open door policy to the students and declared that Wednesday would be “Student Day in the life of the President.”

Northwest College was also invited to join the Christian College Coalition (now the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) – a large group of Christian schools dedicated to liberal arts education in Christian light. Joining this consortium of colleges and universities led to the possibilities for students to study for a semester either overseas or at other Christian colleges in the country.

In 1996, Northwest College began offering an adult degree completion program called scholarships, many that they do not have to start paying until they graduate from the program.

After only 8 years as president of Northwest, Dennis A. Davis resigned from his post. Don Argue became the 5th president of Northwest, but he was no stranger to the institution. His father had taken the pastoral role at Hollywood Temple in the late 1940s when Northwest's first president Ness had resigned. Argue grew up around Northwest College and knew many of the people who had attended as well as faculty and staff. He had observed Ness and Butterfield’s leadership on campus as well. He said about them, “Both of these former NC presidents were held in high honor in our home. They were men of vision and spiritual leadership. As a boy I felt my life was positively influenced by these men.”[3] Argue had also served as president of North Central Bible College for 16 years. At his inauguration, he committed himself to Northwest College with these words.

“We are heirs of the past.

We are guardians of the present.

We are architects of the future.”[3]

Recent history

Northwest College announced the opening of the

In 2001, President Argue received word from the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (now the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities) that Northwest could offer its first master’s degree. Argue took the opportunity and by fall of 2001, Northwest offered the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program. Not only did graduates receive their degree, but they were eligible to become Washington State Board Licensed Professional Counselors. Presently, Northwest University offers eight master’s degrees in a variety of fields.[3]

The Board of Directors made the decision in 2004 to change the name of the college from Northwest College to Northwest University.

At his inauguration on October 27, 2007, Joseph Castleberry became the sixth president of Northwest University. Dr. Castleberry had previously served as the academic dean at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. He had also been a missionary in many capacities in Central and South America, founded the Freedom Valley Project in Ecuador's Chota Valley, and has been published in a variety of books and articles. With regards to the future of Northwest University, Dr. Castleberry has stated, “I believe it is within Northwest University’s reach to become a world-class model of academic excellence that is loyal to the faith and spiritual power of our forefathers. I can foresee the deployment of Northwest University graduates around the world and an ongoing relationship with them that brings the world to the campus and takes the campus to the world. Given the Northwest Region’s rich heritage for foreign missions, such a vision is deeply consistent with our ethos and tradition.”[6]

On August 14, 2007, the General Contractor released the Certificate of Occupancy for the Health and Sciences Center (HSC).[5] The HSC serves as the home for the Mark and Huldah Buntain School of nursing as well as the University Science Department’s chemistry, biology, environmental studies, and physics labs. The Northwest University Board of Directors unanimously supported the priority of the funding plan for the HSC, the largest fundraising program attempted by the university. Dr. Don Argue, the university president at the time, spearheaded the vision for the HSC. On May 8, 2009, Northwest University formally recognized the former president and current Chancellor for his efforts by naming the building The Donald H. Argue Health and Sciences Center.[7] “’The new Health and Sciences Center has surpassed our expectations, and we had very high hopes,’ stated Dan Neary, Northwest’s Executive Vice President. ’The classrooms and the laboratories have been a tremendous boost to both our science and our nursing programs. But even more, this building has become a popular site for conferences, meetings, and receptions. It has quickly become an integral part of our campus, and it’s difficult to even remember what it was like here before the HSC was finished!’”[5]

Salem Bible College (SBC) in Salem, Oregon merged with Northwest University in 2008 to become Salem Bible College of Northwest University. “For students at Salem Bible College, this merger offers two immediate benefits: they can apply for Federal Financial Aid, and the degree they earn will be accredited (by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities).”[8] “Two people in particular deserve credit for this merger,” says Dr. Castleberry. “First, Rev. Bill Wilson, Superintendent of the Oregon Ministry Network, has provided vision and leadership to make it happen. And Dr. Carley Kendrick, President of SBC, has shown the heart of a true servant in this entire process.”[8]


  • Dr. Henry H. Ness: 1934-1949
  • Dr. C.E. Butterfield: 1949-1966
  • Dr. D.V. Hurst: 1966-1990
  • Dr. Dennis A. Davis: 1990-1998
  • Dr. Don Argue: 1998-2007
  • Dr. Joseph Castleberry: 2007–Present


The university is a regionally accredited, Christian coeducational institution awarding associate, baccalaureate, graduate, and doctorate degrees. Undergraduate students can choose from more than 50 B.A. programs, including Nursing, Business, Music, Ministry, Pre-Med, Psychology, and Education. The University also has five master’s degree programs in Business and Management, Teaching, Theology, Psychology and Sociology. In 2009, Northwest University added a doctorate in Counseling Psychology program. The university is operated under the control of the Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Northwest, Southern Idaho, and Wyoming districts of the Assemblies of God. All these districts are represented on the University’s Board of Directors.[2]

In the U.S. News and World Report publication, America's Best Colleges 2009, Northwest University ranked 16 in the western region of the 319 national baccalaureate colleges in the nation.[9] “’It is an honor to be listed among America’s best colleges,’ said Northwest University’s president, Joseph Castleberry. ‘As Northwest University adds programs and gets bigger, we are even more committed to getting better, providing the highest quality education. This ranking confirms the capabilities and commitment of our faculty and it is a tribute to them.’”[10] In 2009, Northwest University added a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology program. It was the first doctorate program offered by the university.

Schools and colleges

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Ministry
  • School of Business and Management
  • School of Education
  • The Mark and Huldah Buntain School of Nursing
  • College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Accreditation and affiliations

Notable alumni

  • David Bazan - Singer/songwriter
  • Natalie Grant - Five-time Dove award recipient for "Female Vocalist of the Year" (2006–2009, 2012)


Northwest University teams, nicknamed athletically as the Eagles, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC). Men's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball.


External links

  • Official website
  • Official athletics website

Coordinates: 47°39′29″N 122°11′32″W / 47.65806°N 122.19222°W / 47.65806; -122.19222

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