Mission and History

Learn about what makes University of Jamestown who we are today.

A history to honor. A mission to follow.

The original charter that led to the opening of what is now University of Jamestown read:

“We therefore form this association for the purpose of establishing and perpetuating an institution of higher learning in order that the young people of our state and nation may have an opportunity of increasing their knowledge in the liberal arts and for the development of character under the guidance of correct moral and religious influences.”

These words ring true today. The University was, and still is, a liberal arts college dedicated to creating wholeness in students. We celebrate our history, and look forward to the future, guided by our mission and vision.

Mission Statement

The University of Jamestown is a student-centered university dedicated to the development of wholeness in all members of our community.

We adhere to a curriculum of academic excellence which blends the liberal arts with sound professional preparation. Our commitment to the Christian faith encourages an atmosphere of self-discipline, responsibility, and concern for the continuing growth of the individual.

Vision Statement

The University of Jamestown seeks to be the best career-oriented, liberal arts university in the Midwest with a presence that extends into other strategically chosen regions across the United States.

We will do so through offering innovative academic programs in a variety of formats that blend the best of the liberal arts tradition with professional training in an engaged, student-centered, Christian environment that cultivates lifelong personal and professional success.

Values Statement

You shall love the Lord our God with all our God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all you mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

The University of Jamestown is a fully independent, self-governing institution that shares an historic relationship with the Presbyterian Church (USA). We are non-sectarian and welcome students, faculty, and staff of all faiths and beliefs. Our Latin motto, “Lux et Veritas,” proclaims to all that the pursuit of truth lights our journey today as it has since 1883.

As a Christian institution of higher education in the Presbyterian tradition, we celebrate God through the use of our minds and the exercise of reason, believing that God is the source of all truth. We believe that learning and the search for truth are closely connected to faith.

We embrace the ongoing search for knowledge and truth as a way of liberating the human spirit and of understanding the world we share with others. The University of Jamestown promotes education as a means to improve lives, search for vocation, and create lifelong seekers of truth and wisdom. We value the life of the mind and the life of the spirit and therefore hold that faith and reason reinforce each other and that through mind, heart, and hands one can honor God and serve humanity.

Identity Statement

The University of Jamestown exists to develop wholeness in all members of our community and to serve its students in a friendly, caring environment. Supported by faculty and staff who are committed to the success of our students, we make the transitions into college and from college-to-career as stress-free as possible.

We value academic excellence as well as a highly engaged student body, faculty, and staff. We blend the liberal arts with professional programs with the goal of graduating students who are well rounded and foundationally prepared for careers that are ever changing in an expanding global economy and lives that are lived in an increasingly complex society.

We believe that students can thrive in a variety of learning environments, whenever and however courses are offered. We promote a residential experience for our traditional undergraduate students, recognizing that a living-learning environment provides an outstanding opportunity for academic, social, and spiritual maturation and persistence. We provide online and hybrid offerings for learners who prefer the flexibility such formats offer while demanding a level of academic rigor that builds character, promotes ethical development, and leads to success in the workplace and further educational endeavors.

We are a Christian university founded in the Presbyterian tradition which welcomes students, faculty, and staff members of all faiths and denominations and fosters the spiritual lives of all members of our community.

Our History: The Early Years

University of Jamestown (formerly Jamestown College) was the first college to be chartered in what is now North Dakota. It was founded in 1883, six years before North Dakota became a state. When first classes began on September 29, 1886, 35 students enrolled. Four courses of study were available: scientific, classical, commercial, and music.

Seven years of success

Jamestown College saw seven years of success. And yet, it also faced severe economic struggles. Like many new colleges of its time, the University was established with the right intent and vision. Unfortunately, it developed before there was sufficient population or an economic base to support it. From 1893 to 1909, the college closed due to extreme financial conditions in the Midwest.

The rebirth

By 1909, the college reopened with 11 instructors and 52 students. Dr. Barend Kroeze came from Whitworth College to become the first president. By the end of the first school year, the debts from the earlier days were paid, current finances were met, and two new buildings were being added to campus. After his retirement in 1946, after 37 years of service, the Association of American Colleges proclaimed, “Jamestown College is truly the lengthened shadow of this great man.”

Building character since 1883

Since it’s re-opening in 1909, The University has seen years of growth and achievement, because leaders have had the courage to stay true to the vision of its founders. On August 21, 2013, Jamestown College changed its name to University of Jamestown. The students, alumni, faculty, staff, and all who support the University’s mission continue to strive for excellence—as have generations before them and as will generations to come.