Monmouth was settled in 1853 by a group of pioneers who made a point of allocating 640 acres to build both a city and a “college under the auspices of the Christian Church” and proceeds from the sale of these lands were used to found Monmouth University. For decades, Monmouth was a dry town that banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in supermarkets, restaurants and bars. Monmouth’s status as the last dry town in Oregon was ended by a popular vote in the November 2002 election.
Through the years, Western Oregon University has undergone seven name changes. In 1865, it merged with another private institution, Bethel College, and became Christian College. In 1882, the Oregon State Legislature approved the college’s bid to become a state-supported teacher training school. Later the name was changed to Oregon Normal School.
In 1939, the Oregon Legislature again changed the name to Oregon College of Education. New programs were added in the areas of liberal arts and sciences. In 1979, the institution was renamed Western Oregon State College to reflect the school’s growing academic programs in the liberal arts fields. In 1997 the school’s name was changed to Western Oregon University. Enrollment was just over 6,000 in 2013.
Beginning with the 2007–2008 academic year, WOU guarantees that undergraduate students will have the same tuition rate for four academic years as the year they entered. WOU is the only public university in the western U.S. to offer this guarantee