September 2020: Back to school as (un)usual

photo: Mitchell Henry

Mid-September saw Oregon dealing with multiple raging wildfires. Newberg was covered in a thick smoke caused by a wildfire just a few miles north of campus. Unusually strong winds blew the smoke over campus, and it sat there for 10 days, causing red skies and the air quality index to skyrocket to “Hazardous.” Not fun … more on this later.


Before all that smoke, though, campus was picturesque, as it always is in late summer and the fall. Students were out, minding COVID-19 precautions, and enjoying being back on campus.

Many classes were held outside and physically distanced, with masks of course. Some sessions simply could not be held outside, and most of our classrooms were too small to hold large numbers of students while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. So we got clever and turned four of our six basketball courts into eight classrooms. Many students have the option to learn remotely as well, so teachers have held class in person and on Zoom simultaneously.

Students throughout campus studying alone or properly distanced is the new normal now.

Signage reminds everyone how to remain safe and healthy. For the busy first few weeks of school the Bruin Store allowed only a few inside at a time, and if you were there to pick up an online order they brought it out to you. The Hadlock Student Center, the campus hub for all things recreational, has plenty of reminder signs posted but was open for business as (not exactly) usual.

The university has procured a few electrostatic atomizers to help disinfect high-use areas and in the event (knock on wood) that we have a positive case. The Hadlock Student Center uses one to clean equipment after use.

As I write this caption, these trees are turning color as we enter fall. This bridge is Crisman Crossing, built in 2015. It is the longest clear-span timber truss bridge in the contiguous United States and is named in honor of Leo (’45) and Abigail (Miller) Crisman (’43) for their longtime family legacy at George Fox. ⁠

We have to wear masks, so we might as well have fun with them, right?

Students need to distance in our dining hall as well. A little reminder signage on the floor is helpful. Tents have been set up in a couple locations on campus for studying and eating your meals. Once the smoke rolled in our mascot, Pennington Bear, handed out free N95 masks. Those N95 masks helped students breath a bit easier with all the smoke in the air also.

photo: Mitchell Henry

Oh yeah, the smoke. There were a lot of big fires burning in Oregon in early September, and some of them still are. That’s not too abnormal, but this year we had a very serious windstorm. Our campus (and a large portion of our region) is nestled down in a valley. The winds blew that smoke in, and it just sat here for days. For a few days the AQI was the worst in the world; you might have heard about it in the news. We couldn’t go outside, we needed the wind to blow it back out, we needed rain. Then one day, Sept. 18, we got it. A huge deluge. It was awesome and refreshing, and it cleared our skies and lifted our spirits.

And then, just like that, fall. Some trees were damaged in the windstorm and even needed to be removed. As you can see, trees are all over our campus, so to lose trees that have been with us for decades has been an adjustment for sure.

And I’ll leave you with this fall sunrise drone photo.

Chris Low is the photographer in the marketing and communications department for George Fox University.

Covid-19 at George Fox

The year 2020 will forever be remembered for the novel coronavirus that ravaged the world. The details are still a bit unknown, but it is believed that Washington state had the U.S.’s first case on Jan. 20. About five weeks later, Oregon reported its first case, and soon after Gov. Kate Brown announced that schools would close starting Monday, March 16. That was followed by a stay-at-home order on March 23. Students at George Fox went on spring break March 20-27 and were asked not to return to campus for the remainder of the semester.

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A Welcome Weekend to Remember

At George Fox, we love rolling out the red carpet for new students! It’s our way of welcoming you to the George Fox family. That’s why each year, we go all out for Welcome Weekend. Take a look!

Right when you arrive on campus, a welcoming committee gathers around your car and gets you moved into your room within minutes. Then, it’s time to meet everyone in your dorm and explore campus. Welcome home!

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Tour the Hadlock Student Center

Healthy body, healthy mind. At the Hadlock Student Center, our beautiful new 48,000-square-foot fitness facility, we help George Fox students “find their fit” with a variety of activities like…

Rock climbing! This indoor climbing facility features five roped lines on a 40-foot wall in addition to 1,000 square feet of bouldering space.
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Video & Time Lapse: New Bridge Installed at George Fox




Aug. 12, 2015 – The installation of a 220-foot pedestrian bridge provided quite a spectacle on the Newberg campus of George Fox University.

It took about two hours for two massive hydraulic cranes to lift the 29.5- and 36.5-ton preassembled bridge halves into place so they could be joined to span the Hess Creek Canyon in the middle of the campus.

The Liebherr LTM 1500/8.1 and Grove GMK7550 mobile cranes each have booms over 250 feet and each can lift more than 550 tons.

The clear-span timber bridge will connect a new 30,000 square-foot dining facility (to be completed summer 2016) on the east side of the canyon with the primarily academic west side. Anderson Construction Company is overseeing both projects.

The bridge project is projected to cost about $600,000. Pedestrians should be able to use the bridge by Aug. 27.

Meet the Class of 2014: Renee Geck




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAName: Renee Geck
Hometown: Everett, Wash.
Major: Biology (cell and molecular) with minors in mathematics and chemistry

Q: How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

A: My time at George Fox has enriched so many areas of my life. I have made fantastic friends, gained knowledge in diverse fields, and had unique opportunities inside and outside of my major. I was blessed with a tight-knit freshman floor, so we had a lot of fun together and some of those women are still among my closest friends. I also connected well with my major department, especially doing breast cancer research with Dr. John Schmitt. He has been a wonderful mentor to me, and those summers helped me determine what I want to do in the future.

One of the fantastic things about George Fox is all the opportunities to explore different disciplines and issues. Even with commitments to my major, I was able to take classes in math (which I love!), play in band, and be a member of the International Justice Mission Club for all four year I’ve been here. I’ve also taken “just for fun” classes in art, history and religion, as well as a spectacular Juniors Abroad trip to Greece. To me, that balance of strength in my major as well as ways to pursue other passions has created an invigorating and exciting course for my time at George Fox.
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There’s always something going on




1618419_350858118385315_2031761627_n-2By Rebekah Binderim (’16), social work major

At George Fox there is never a shortage of things to do.  What are some of my favorites?

There is attending a home basketball game and screaming at the top of your lungs with your fellow classmates, wearing your Blue Zone shirts. You and everyone else rise to your feet watching the final basket swish through the net and all at once the gymnasium explodes with excitement, your own voice getting lost amongst the chaos.
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The sights and sounds of Christmas on campus




By Victoria Nelson (’16)

Victoria (left) and friends get ready for the holidays.
Walking through the quad, I can’t help but feel a wave of peace wash over me. My last class over and done with, I trek through the frosty grass, leaving ephemeral footprints as reminders of my presence. My breath forms little wispy clouds as it leaves my mouth. The clock tower serenades me with a tune of Christmas cheer, and all the lights on the buildings seem to sing along with a rhythmic twinkling.
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Closing out the semester with a little Christmas cheer




By Rebekah Binderim (’16)

As school draws to a close the air grows crisper and the days shorter, students are overwhelmed by the feelings of elation that only Christmas can bring. Dorms are filled with the smells of fresh pine, warm sugar cookies, and hot chocolate. Carols are heard echoing down the halls accompanied by the tinkling of bells. Chapel services are filled with the stories of Jesus’ birth and classic Christmas songs. Our school’s president can be seen reading The Night Before Christmas to a group of students sitting anxiously at his feet, their eyes are filled with wonder as they reminisce about Christmases past.
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Barbi Doran’s most memorable phone calls




By Heather DeRosa, Class of 2014
Photos by Shekinah Davis, Class of 2015

Sit anywhere in the Stevens Center and you will be able to hear a calming voice relentlessly answering the phone saying, “George Fox University,” and then proceeding to direct the caller to the right place.

Barbi Doran, information services coordinator and switchboard operator extraordinaire, is that calming voice. While she gets a never-ending supply of phone calls each day, she manages to answer the phone in the typical cheerful Barbi fashion every time.
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