WesternU’s Proud History
Western University of Health Sciences embarked on a special mission when it opened its doors in 1977 as the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP): Educating tomorrow’s health-care professionals with a combination of scientific excellence and a humanistic, compassionate approach to patient care.
From an inaugural class of 36 students in 1978, enrollment in COMP had by 1986 grown to more than 400. That same year, the addition of the Master of Science in Health Professions Education program paved the way for what would become the College of Health Sciences. Meanwhile, the University continued acquiring former Pomona Mall buildings, remodeling them and converting them to educational use.
The campus kept growing over the next 10 years, with enrollment jumping dramatically in 1996, when the addition of a College of Pharmacy coincided with the campus’ name change to Western University of Health Sciences.
1998 was another landmark year for WesternU, as the College of Graduate Nursing was founded in March, and the College of Veterinary Medicine – the first veterinary college in Southern California – was established just five months later.
WesternU’s first foundation-up construction project, the Veterinary Clinical Center, opened its doors in August 2008. One year later, the University welcomed inaugural classes in three new colleges – Dental Medicine, Optometry and Podiatric Medicine. In conjunction with that academic expansion, the University further expanded the physical campus, erecting a 180,000-square-foot Health Education Center, a Patient Care Center, and a 600-car parking garage. A ninth school, the Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences, welcomed its inaugural class in January 2010.
Today, WesternU is home to more than 3,800 students in 22 degree programs, as well as more than 1,100 employees, and is one of the most thriving enterprises in the Pomona and Inland valleys. Its campus, encompassing 22 acres, has helped transform downtown Pomona into a thriving mix of retail, commercial and educational enterprises.
WesternU also is making its mark beyond the boundaries of the Pomona campus, thanks to the addition of a Pacific Northwest campus in Lebanon, Oregon. This campus, known as WesternU Oregon, welcomed its inaugural class of 107 osteopathic medical students in July 2011, and has grown to a full enrollment of 400-plus students. WesternU’s College of Health Sciences will open a Doctor of Physical Therapy program in Lebanon in July 2021.