On Feb. 12, Eastern faculty voted in favor of recommending a proposal to President Black that would make Eastern the accrediting institution for the Oregon Extension.
“We have always had a good relationship with them [the Oregon Extension],” Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences, Betsy Morgan said. “We love sending students there.”
For weeks, adopting the Oregon Extension was a hot topic among the faculty of Eastern, according to Morgan.
As a program, the Oregon Extension functions independently, but in order to grant students credit, the program needs to be accredited by an actual college. Messiah College had done so for several years, but their contract expires at the end of next year.
At the end of January, John and Nancy Linton, the program directors, visited Eastern to recruit students and to meet with faculty.
“I’ve always felt very at home here,” Nancy said. “The faculty, I’ve felt, has always been very supportive of sending students to O.E.”
In their discussions, the Lintons presented to Eastern information about the program, their beliefs and the philosophies that they teach by.
“It’s definitely in harmony with Eastern,” junior Rob Bergen said about the Oregon Extension. Bergen, a history major, together with fellow junior Mark Russum, a youth ministry major, went to the Oregon Extension this past fall.
“Seeing God in nature,” Russum said about the beauty of the program’s campus, “that’s something that’s tough to see when you’re in the suburbs of Philadelphia.”
Nestled in the mountains of southern Oregon, the program focuses on slowing down the pace of life. Students are given the opportunities to walk the coastline, split firewood, explore the mountains and gaze at God’s creation.
The Oregon Extension was established thirty years ago on the site of what used to be an old logging camp. Today, thirty-five students and five professors learn together on one of the most unique college campuses anyone could dream up.
“The campus is important in order to get off the mainstream, and go to a place that is free of distractions,” Russum said. “There’s something about waking up and seeing God’s nature that really prepares you for your day.”
Cabins, horses, canoes, a library and a worship area make up much of the program’s campus. The campus is mostly free of technology, allowing students to experience a different side of life.
Studies are intensive, with reading and group discussions every day and papers due every week. The weekends are free from work, allowing the students to do whatever they want, from hiking to white-water rafting.
“As a college student,” Russum said, “I was always looking forward to the next phase in my life. The O.E. helped [me] to slow down life, and to become less stressful, being present in the moment, enjoying today.”
“I think the program fits well with the University,” Bergen said. “For one, the things you learn in Bible class [at Eastern] you really solidify in the O.E.”
With the faculty’s recommendation to take the Oregon Extension under its wing, the decision now moves on to President Black.
No date on a final decision has been confirmed as of yet.