Northland International University and Northland Camp & Conference Center are the result of God’s blessing on the life of Dr. Paul Patz (1911–2000) and his family. Born as the ninth of ten children into a life of poverty, Paul Patz trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at age seventeen. Paul would later recall developing a perplexing burden after his conversion. He felt God calling him into a ministry but was unsure what God could do with a poor farmer with only a third-grade education. As he pondered these things, he continued working the family farm through the dark days of the Great Depression.
Starting with the passion of a young farm boy, God has developed a ministry that has impacted thousands of lives, trained hundreds of college graduates for ministry, and whose influence is being felt around the world. Beginning in 1948, Paul Patz developed a series of inventions that would revolutionize the farming industry and lead to his financial success. He eventually founded Patz Corporation, which has been manufacturing quality farm machinery for over 65 years.
Paul Patz and his family founded Northland Mission Camp on December 31, 1958, and property was purchased in 1960. In 1995 the name changed to Northland Camp & Conference Center.
Then, in 1976, Paul Patz acted on the need for a Bible-training institution in this region by branching out and opening Northland’s doors to Northland Baptist Bible Institute. That year James Wooster became Northland’s first president (serving 1976-1980). The scope of the curriculum quickly outdistanced the institute and after only one year, the name was changed to Northland Baptist Bible College. The college grew and flourished under the leadership of then-president, Les Ollila (serving 1984-2002), throughout the 1980s and 1990s. During that time, a broader range of majors became available, a graduate school was started, and the presence of Northland’s graduates began to be seen on every continent of the globe.
In 2009, under the leadership of then-president Matt Olson (serving 2002-2013), after considering the increased scope of what was being offered, a name addition of Northland International University was born, serving as an umbrella to Northland’s School of Leadership, School of Biblical Studies, School of Cross-Cultural Studies, School of Communication Arts, School of Education, School of Graduate Studies, Center for Global Opportunities, and Center for the Local Church.
In July 2013 one of Paul Patz’s grandsons, Daniel Patz, took the helm in an effort to address declining enrollment and financial constrains and faithfully served as president of the ministry until the school closed in May of 2015.
In October of 2015, Jeff Kahl returned to Northland to direct the camp ministry. After two years of focusing on strengthening the camping ministry, Northland established the Institute of Leadership and Ministry to once again train students desiring to impact the world with the gospel!