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Entrepreneur and education pioneer F.C. Woodbury founded Woodbury’s Business College, as our university was initially named, in 1884 in the historic center of Los Angeles. Woodbury University’s distinguished history is inextricably linked to the rise of Southern California as a center of business, creativity, and innovation. For example, Woodbury was one of the first institutions of higher education to offer an accelerated program to meet the needs of students wishing to earn a degree in a concentrated format.

Woodbury University’s mission is to provide the highest level of professional and liberal arts education. The integrated nature of its educational environment cultivates successful students from all walks of life with a strong and enduring sense of personal and social responsibility.

Since 1884, Woodbury has educated more than 75,000 alumni who have built businesses large and small, led magazines, established accounting and architecture firms, become noted fashion designers, amassed fortunes, won design competitions, held public office, led non-profit organizations and much more.

Today, the campus thrives at its beautiful 22.5 acre residential campus in Burbank. A satellite campus in San Diego was established in 1998 and offers various degrees in Architecture.


1884: Woodbury’s Business College, Los Angeles’ first business college, is founded by F.C. Woodbury. The LA Times promotes the six-month business program as being open to both gentlemen and ladies at a cost of $75 and promises to deliver a “thorough practical business education.”


1888: The Real Estate Bust occurs and Woodbury’s Business College tuition drops 33% to $50 per six months.

1891: F.C. Woodbury sells the College to three faculty members (who drop the “s” and change the name to Woodbury Business College) and semi-retires at age 50.  With 44 students, Woodbury graduates the largest class of any college in LA.  G.A. Hough, acclaimed for teaching penmanship, becomes President of the College.

1893: Woodbury employs ten faculty members.  The graduation ceremony is held at the Grand Opera House for a class totaling 76 students.

1898: F.C. Woodbury dies in his Bullard block office of the California Supreme Court at the age of 57.  N.G. Felker is President of the College at this time.


1903: Woodbury College is acquired by E.K. Isaacs, who will run the college successfully for 15 years.

1909: Woodbury College is renamed Isaacs – Woodbury College. At 25 years old, the school is in an established part of Los Angeles with alumni who help turn LA from a village into a city approaching 300,000 people – over 20 times larger than when F.C. and Clara Woodbury arrived from San Francisco in 1884.

1910: During this time, smaller branches of the college open in Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, and Riverside.  Enrollment reaches 200.


1922: The College reaches a low of 64 students after four years with President S.T. Willis.  Due to “illness,” he sells the college to Ray Howard “Pop” Whitten.

1926: The State of California charters Woodbury to grant undergraduate degrees.

1931: Woodbury institutes the Division of Professional Arts where students have a chance to study the fields of design that are closely related to business, such as Fashion Design, Interior Design, and Commercial Art.

1938: The College is reaching new success largely due to the incorporation of the Fashion and Interior Design programs.

1941: As male students enlist into the military, enrollment drops.  In order to keep the College alive, President Pop Whitten secures government training contracts.

1945: The “Patio” becomes a popular hangout for the predominately male student body made up of students studying under the G.I. Bill.  Pop Whitten is known to give students a ride to campus on his way from his Bel Air home.


1962: Dora Kirby becomes the last proprietary owner of Woodbury College after she is persuaded to take over the college by Pop just prior to his death.  As the popularity of television increases, movie production slows, resulting in the closure of the Hollywood campus.

1968: The Masters of Business Administration graduate program is added.

1972: To maintain accreditation, Woodbury becomes a not-for-profit institution.  The number of foreign students climbs, thus providing a global education environment ahead of the national academic curve.

Mid 1970’s: Despite being a not-for-profit institution, Woodbury continues to be run as a family business.  However, at the behest of WASC, Woodbury begins to adopt a more traditional non-profit structure, beginning with the appointment of an independent board of trustees.

1979: With a significant number of Iranian students, Woodbury survives the fall of the Shah and the overnight disappearance of 40% of its student body.

1980: University President, Dr. Wayne Miller leads the efforts to begin enhancing quality and financial strength in 1980.  The first academic program accreditation is received for Interior Design.

1982: A degree in Computer Information Science is created.

1984: Degrees in Architecture are offered.

1985: Woodbury University acquires the 22.4 acre campus in Burbank at which it still resides.


1994: With the additional space at the new campus, Woodbury offers additional majors and degree programs, including Psychology, Politics and History, Liberal Arts and Business, Marketing, Animation, Communication, and Organizational Leadership.

2005: The Julius Shulman Institute is established.

2008: NASAD, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, accredits Woodbury’s program after a multi-year effort lead by faculty.  The Arid Lands Institute is established.

2009: Master’s of Architecture Program established.

2011: Three new programs in the School of Media, Culture & Design are established through the assistance of a Title V grant.  Those programs are Filmmaking, Game Art & Design, and Media Technology.