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.

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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Be Known on a Billboard

We can’t promise every student will be featured on a billboard, but we can promise every George Fox student will Be Known – personally, academically and spiritually. 

Recently we caught up with one of the stars of our latest billboard campaign – senior psychology major Justine Reid – to find out how she has experienced the Be Known promise. See her answers below!

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Curriculum Choices and the Be Known Promise

By Melanie Springer Mock, Professor of English

As the end of another semester swiftly approaches, I’ve been reflecting on my first months ever at George Fox, back in 1986, when I was a college freshman. That fall was a horrible one, and after folks had told me college would be the best years of my life, I silently suffered, because I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong and why I felt especially miserable.

Conflicts with my roommate had made my dorm room almost uninhabitable, and I didn’t have the skills to navigate our different communication styles or sleeping schedules. The transition to college academics was also rough, and because I lacked the tools to succeed in classes, I maintained only a tenuous grasp on passing grades. Though I came to George Fox to run cross country and track, a serious medical condition, a major operation, and one week in the hospital that fall signaled the end of my season and my connection to teammates, the only friends I had made on campus.

Lonely, depressed, unmoored: I thought seriously of transferring. Only inertia kept me from cutting ties with George Fox altogether. I’m incredibly grateful that I decided to stay, because my college experience was ultimately amazing; and now, 18 years into my teaching career at George Fox, I can’t imagine anywhere else I would rather be.
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When Being Known Means Sad Goodbyes

Professor Melanie Springer Mock with senior English majors Ryan Lackey and Julia Howell.
Professor Melanie Springer Mock with senior English majors Ryan Lackey and Julia Howell.
By Melanie Springer Mock, Professor of English

Over 25 years ago this week, I celebrated my first George Fox graduation, as a student. Just days before our processional into an already-overheated Wheeler gymnasium, I stopped by Minthorn Hall to say goodbye to a favorite professor. Yet as I stood at his office door, trying to tell him how much his mentorship had changed me, my professor refused to engage, keeping his head focused on his desk and the papers he needed to grade.

I couldn’t understand why this usually warm, friendly man had suddenly turned distant, and I left his office that day feeling perplexed and a little hurt. It only took me about one decade to figure out why my old professor had acted so disconnected: he couldn’t say goodbye. Or, more pointedly, he couldn’t say goodbye without crying.

Turns out, graduation can be emotionally difficult for faculty members, something I discovered my very first commencement as a professor at George Fox University, and rediscover every April, when graduation rolls around again. Read More

My Serve Day Experience

imageBy Alexis Cavanaugh (Class of 2017)

Every year, George Fox sets aside a day during the first semester to gather together as a school and pray for our community. Serve Day starts off with breakfast on the quad followed by worship and prayer over our city and the people in it. After the morning session is finished, everyone goes out in groups into the community to serve for an entire day.

I think one of the many great things about Serve Day is how different each experience is every year for each student. This year is my third Serve Day and I was blessed to be able to serve with all the girls in the house I live in! We went to one of the Habitat for Humanity sites in McMinnville and got to clean up the site so the construction workers could continue building houses. Before we started working, some of the people who worked there gave us a tour of the site and the houses that were being built or were almost finished. It was neat getting to see houses that were in different stages of construction.
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‘You have no idea!’

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 1.35.10 PMBy Heather Kurtz (Class of 2015)

This past month I had the awesome opportunity to represent George Fox University at two college fairs for high school students and their parents. With a great table layout and a head full of relevant facts, I was ready to use my education in marketing for our school’s benefit. After answering a plethora of questions and sharing my own “Be Known” story with others, I realized something so exciting: these high school students have no idea how George Fox University will impact them.

Putting myself in their shoes, four years ago when I was a high school senior, I remember being overwhelmed with making the most important choice of where my new home would be for the next few years. Read More

Freshman Year All Over Again

10687366_10203661829999702_5112495758339695251_o (1)By Alexis Cavanaugh (Class of 2017)

No, I did not fail freshman year, nor am I finishing up some credits from freshman year. However, I am living in a freshman hall again. It all started last year when my roommate, Libby, applied for a resident assistant (RA) position. She had been hoping all year to get this job and we talked about rooming together again if she did. Well, at the end of February, she found out she got the position! She officially asked me to be her RAR (RA’s roommate) too! So from then on we made plans and got so excited for this year. Summer went by really quickly and we talked about how excited we were to journey with our group of girls this year. August rolled around and it was time to move back again. Read More

Worship with Passion


By Devon Halvorson (Class of 2017)

Recently my friends and I had the opportunity to see Kristian Stanfill and the Passion Worship Band perform on campus. Passion is a band, and also a conference, that travels around the country, encouraging student through worship and prayer. We were lucky enough to have them stop by George Fox and share in a night filled with music, dancing and prayer.

The night really began when the band started playing, lights began to flash, and students rushed to the front of the stage to dance and worship. The music was great and it was fun to see not only Fox students, but also other members of the Newberg community worshiping together. It was an awesome night shared among classmates and friends.
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