What’s In a Name?

The institution’s name is a central part of our identity, and understanding the name requires a little history.

Founded in 1867 as Albany Collegiate Institute in Albany, Oregon, the institution became Lewis & Clark when it moved to its current location in Portland in 1942. The trustees at the time unanimously chose the name as a “symbol of the pioneering spirit that had made and maintained the college.”

Read more about our history.

The association of our institution’s name with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, as well as the 1804 “Corps of Discovery” expedition they led, cannot be ignored. We can’t change history, but we need to be honest about what it means for us. Don’t glorify or romanticize behaviors, situations, and outcomes made possible by the power and privilege these men held. Avoid images of manifest destiny and conquering heroes, and don’t use language that associates Lewis and Clark the individuals with progress or the bringing of civilization.

Our identity as Pioneers requires a similarly thoughtful approach.

Our Indigenous land acknowledgment can be found on the Equity and Inclusion webpages. If you have questions about the land acknowledgment or its use, contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion.