Watch out on your birthday at Willamette University – you’re going to get Mill Streamed! That means your friends are going to pick you up and carry you over to Mill Stream, which runs through the middle of campus, and dump you into it. And if you dare to have a summer birthday, they’ll do it on your half birthday. This is one of the traditions that can make students leave Willamette University with a great feeling of having had a great time here, both socially and academically.
Willamette is literally right across the street from Oregon’s state capitol building in Salem, so students studying politics, or at the Center for Democracy and Public Policy, have incredible access to state legislators and agencies for internships. Eighty percent of Capitol interns are Willamette students! The Center for Asian Studies gives students the opportunity to mingle with students from Tokyo University who spend their second year of college at the Tokyo University facility on Willamette’s campus. About 150 Japanese students come each year for the year, and they are considered part of the sophomore class. Willamette also has the top-ranked MBA program and law school in the state of Oregon, both on the same campus with undergraduates.
Willamette owns a 300-acre farm and forest, called Zena, which students in the natural sciences and environmental studies use as a laboratory and classroom. Department offices in the academic buildings are called “hearths,” and professors are very available to students – when we toured recently, a chemistry professor came out and talked to us about the research his students were doing. A Harvey Mudd College alum, he compared Willamette to Pomona College, as far as its size and student intellect. All students, regardless of major, produce a “Senior Experience,” which can be a thesis, an internship or some other artifact through which they synthesize their research and learning here.
Music is very strong at Willamette, and is taught, as are all subjects, within the framework of the liberal arts curriculum. There is a professional quality recording studio on campus.
One of our tour guides was a senior politics major who will be starting an MBA program in the fall. She talked about the strong tradition of Division III sports here [I know someone whose son graduated from Willamette and played baseball]. There are fraternities and sororities but Greek life does not overwhelm all social opportunities. A member of the Colleges That Change Lives, Willamette University prides itself on providing a traditional liberal arts education with the opportunity for students to have close relationships with their professors. Willamette is test-optional, and students who are most competitive for admission are involved outside the classroom in their communities or schools. Because of Willamette’s very strong endowment, they are generous with merit aid and nearly 40% of students graduate with no debt.
By the way, if you’re wondering how to pronounce the name of this school – it’s Will-AM-ette! They have a t-shirt that says, “It’s Willamette, Dammit!”
You can see all of my photos from my visit to Willamette in the slideshow below.