At the 1881 session of the California Conference the need for a school in the West was recognized. Ellen White urged immediate action, and on October 20 a school board was named with her son W. C. White as chair.
At the meeting of the school board in Healdsburg on January 28 and 29, 1882, Ellen White called for some departures from the program at the Battle Creek school in order to attain some of the objectives set forth. Some of the problems that the college at Battle Creek was having should be avoided:
- The college did not have dormitories.
- Students boarded with families in the community or on their own.
- This exacerbated problems of discipline. Hosts naturally were inclined to sympathize with and accredit the reports of the students.
- Disagreements among the faculty, board, and community were common regarding the school policies and goals.
Appropriate actions were taken toward an early opening of the school and so it took place on Tuesday, April 11. That first day 26 students were on hand to register - more than had been expected.
At the annual meeting of the Pacific SDA Publishing Association on April 24, Professor Brownsberger reported on the phenomenal progress that was being made on the school project.
The first 20-week term closed in mid-June with an enrollment of 38. By this time an Adventist woman of some means had made a gift of $5,000, and work could begin on the school home, or "boardinghouse," as it was known.