Pacific University has voted to transfer the Eugene Masters of Social Work program to its Forest Grove campus, despite protests from existing students and community members in Eugene.
University spokesperson Jenni Luckett told the Index:
“There is a higher demand in the greater Portland area…We need to make sure we are meeting our students’ needs.”
Maddie Domka is a first year student in the Masters of Social Work program at Pacific University Eugene. They were informed about the campus change on May 4th a week after staff received the news, by email. Domka is the last graduating class from the MSW program before the transition to Forest Grove. Domka feels that this situation could have been handled differently from the administration.
“We [MSW students] care so deeply about this program and have devoted individually 400 hours at least to Lane County, and 900 in total. Moving the program affects current students, future students, staff, and the community,” said Domka.
Daniel Isaacson is the chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition in Lane County, which often takes interns from the MSW program. He found out about the campus change through mutual friends who had worked in the Masters of Social Work program.
“There wasn’t an official announcement so it wasn’t an email that was sent out saying that we’re considering this. It was a very clandestine behind-the-scenes decision which spurred me to inquire about this and ultimately go to the public with it because it has such a community impact,” said Isaacson.
The Masters of Social Work program has been operating and helping in the Eugene community for almost ten years.
The College of Arts and Sciences held a vote on May 5th to close the Eugene campus. Students in general are not allowed into the College of Arts and Sciences faculty meetings, so students were not present at the vote.
“Oregon is last in mental health funding. It’s number two in addiction. It’s number one in methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine is a psychosis-inducing drug which means that people who take it will have a mental health crisis. We’re one of the highest rates of homelessness,” said Isaacson.
According to Mental Health America’s state ranking from 2021, Oregon ranks 48th to 51st in scoring mental health funding among states, giving it one of the lowest scores in the country. —Jamie Samson and Emaleah Hursh