Outback looks to fill Toomey’s role

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Not many universities have destinations within a reasonable distance of campus where students can hike, ski, snowboard, raft, kayak, mountain bike and more. But the very diverse Pacific Northwest is an ideal area for the Pacific Outback to exist, according to Pacific Outback Interim Director Phil Friesen.

Friesen said he came to Pacific, simply, for “Oregon.”

When he first began as a Voyages Coordinator in January 2009, Friesen and his wife had been looking for a place to “decrease the workload while our kids were growing up,” said Friesen.

Coming from his previous position at John Hopkins University in Maryland, Friesen said his knowledge of the Pacific Northwest does not compare to that of Chad Toomey, who recently stepped down from his position as Pacific Outback director to take a position with the Forest Grove Fire Department.

In comparison to Toomey, who grew up in Oregon, attended Pacific and worked with the Outback for 15 years, Friesen said that he finds himself “still learning about how many great areas there are to go” in the surrounding area.

For the time being, Friesen said that he “won’t make a lot of changes,” but that the Outback will be “cutting back on little things.”

Because he appreciates the sense of community at Pacific, Friesen said he plans to speak with staff and more importantly, students, to get feedback on what they would like to see from the Outback in the future.

When it comes to the even nearer future, Friesen is encouraging students to get involved in one or more of the 40 trips that the Outback has scheduled for the spring semester. The overall goal is to get 80 percent of the trips filled up.

Also in the spring are the visits of many potential future Pacific students. Of the Outback’s relationship with these incoming students, Friesen said, “Voyages is the emphasis.”

The many benefits that Friesen has seen Voyages have on students’ GPAs and social networking are ones he hopes will continue under whoever is hired as the new Outback director.

But as Friesen and his co-workers interview candidates for Toomey’s position, one thing must be understood about the job and the program.

“The essence of Outback is health and wellness,” said Friesen.


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