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North Pacific College

Portland, Oregon



The Oregonian had regular coverage of North Pacific College activities through the years. has a digital copy of the Datter, the 1943 College yearbook.  The University of Oregon Health and Science Archive provided the seal and the football image.



North Pacific College began in 1893 as the Tacoma College of Dental Surgery, moving to Portland in 1899, where it took the name North Pacific Dental College.  A year later the school merged with Oregon College of Dentistry.  In 1908 it dropped the word “dental” from its name, and in 1924 it added the words “of Oregon.”


North Pacific College grew quickly—as did its program.  From five graduates in 1900, it had a graduating class of 100 by 1917.   Originally, a three-year program, Dentistry added a fourth year in 1903.  In 1908 the school added a College of Pharmacy, also a four-year program.  By 1916 students were being trained in radiology.  In 1912 North Pacific boasted of having students from every state. By 1922, it had 725 students, making it the third largest student body in Oregon. 


In 1920 North Pacific was one of ten colleges to be designated as a U.S. Army Reserve Corps dental unit.  And during World War II it hosted a V-12 Navy College Training program, training dentists in an accelerated program. 


The Oregonian noted in 1920 that the students at North Pacific were adding numerous social and athletic programs.  Its glee club was often mentioned as performing at commencement programs, and its band entertained at athletic events.  In 1921 the Sigma Alpha Phi fraternity was incorporated on the campus. The 1943 Datter shows three fraternities—Sigma Alpha Phi, Delta Sigma Delta, and Psi Omega—in operation on the campus.


The school remained an independent entity until 1945.  But because it was not affiliated with a university, it began having accreditation issues with the American Dental Association.  So in 1945, North Pacific College became a part of the Oregon State System of Higher Education, taking the name University of Oregon Dental School.  It is now officially the Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry.



Bricks and Mortar

When North Pacific Dental College moved to Portland, it occupied what was called the Medical College building at the corner of N.W. 15th and Couch.  The school quickly outgrew this building and spread to the Old Exposition Building next door.  Continued growth caused the school to build a state of the art building at N.E. 6th and Oregon.  This was a four-story classic building with basement, containing laboratories, lecture halls, and an infirmary.  The college remained in this building until 1956.  The building today is home to East West College of the Healing Arts.












      Colors: Blue and Gold

      Team name: Newspapers always referred to as the team as the Dentists or Dentals


In the early years, sports at North Pacific College were ways for as many students as possible to become involved.  In 1920 the Oregonian mentions a tug of war scheduled between the Freshman and Sophomore classes with at least a hundred men on each end of the rope.  In that same year, the Oregonian notes that with 500 men to choose from, North Pacific hoped to field a strong basketball team.


There is little record that the school played much organized football. The 1900 team lost twice to Pacific U.  In 1901 North Pacific is listed among the victims of Portland Academy’s march to a state championship.   In 1910 the Oregonian notes that “upper classmen. . . are picking out football material,” with a view to playing Portland High School.  The 1918 team that lost to Reed College 16-7 was actually out of the Students’ Army Training Corps team.


The major sports at North Pacific were basketball and baseball—sports that the school played well.  By student demand, these were the sports for which the college hired professional coaches to organize and direct the teams.  In these sports North Pacific competed against both the University of Oregon and Oregon Agricultural College.  For a while the school was a member of the Independent College Conference with Pacific U, Pacific C, Albany C, McMinnville C, and Philomath C.


North Pacific also had strong soccer teams and participated in both wrestling and track.




An early North Pacific Dental College football team (Courtesy of Oregon Health & Science Archives)

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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