History & Heritage

The cornerstone of the original Bible Institute building in Los Angeles was laid on May 31, 1913, and dedicated with these words:

"For the teaching of the truths for which the Institute stands, its doors are to be open every day of the year, and all people, without reference to race, color or class will ever be welcome to its privileges."

Spoken by Lyman Stewart, president of the Institute and co-founder of the Union Oil Company, these words capture the vision of Biola's founders. Stewart, together with T.C. Horton, initiated the Bible Institute, with the first permanent organization taking shape in 1908. By 1912, the school had grown sufficiently in its outreach and constituency to call R.A. Torrey, a leader in the field of Christian education, as the first dean.

The following decades have witnessed tremendous growth in the development and outreach of the school. Under the leadership of Dr. Louis T. Talbot, president from 1932 to 1952, the Bible Institute program became a four-year course, leading to degrees in theology, Christian education, and sacred music. The School of Missionary Medicine came into being in 1945, laying the foundation for Biola's current baccalaureate nursing program. In 1949, the Bible Institute was renamed Biola College.

Dr. Samuel H. Sutherland became president in 1952, and with his leadership the college obtained regional and professional accreditation. Additionally, many new programs of study were introduced, including Talbot Theological Seminary. The demands imposed by the growing student body and the enlarged curriculum prompted the purchase of a 75-acre site in La Mirada.

Biola moved to the new site in 1959. Dr. Sutherland retired as president in 1970, but continued to lend leadership as a member of Biola's Board of Trustees. That same year, Dr. J. Richard Chase became Biola's sixth president.

In 1977, the graduate programs of Rosemead Graduate School of Professional Psychology were acquired by Biola and relocated on the La Mirada campus. The undergraduate programs in psychology were merged with Rosemead's graduate programs in the fall of 1981, forming the present Rosemead School of Psychology.

Under the leadership of Dr. J. Richard Chase, Biola College became Biola University on July 1, 1981. The University was composed of the School of Arts and Sciences, Talbot Theological Seminary and Rosemead School of Psychology. Dr. Clyde Cook became the seventh president of Biola on June 1, 1982. Under his leadership, the School of Intercultural Studies was instituted as part of the University in 1983. Talbot Theological Seminary became Talbot School of Theology in the fall of 1983 as a result of the merger between the appropriate undergraduate and graduate level programs.

The Board approved the establishment of the School of Business in 1993, and the School of Continuing Studies in 1994, now called the School of Professional Studies.

On May 11, 2007, the Board selected the University’s eighth president, Dr. Barry H. Corey, to lead Biola into its second century.

Because of the University's heritage and commitment, its academic basis is broader than that of the standard college of arts and sciences. Terminal and preparatory programs lead to service in church-related vocations and the many other vocations and professions embraced by the present curricula. In addition, the University is a Christian institution of higher education without any denominational affiliation.

From an institute to a university, Biola's cornerstone has remained the same: commitment to Jesus Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture and biblical Christianity (within an evangelical Protestant framework), as well as to the spiritual, academic and holistic growth of those who are personally committed to Him.