Announcing their closure in May, Marylhurst University forced more than 700 students to find a new school within three months. Music therapy students did not have much of a choice in where they were going to finish their education. With Pacific and Marylhurst being the only schools in Oregon with music therapy programs, Pacific became the only option for students wanting to finish their degrees in-state.
Marylhurst University, a small liberal arts school outside of Portland, decided that by the end of 2018 they would stop all operations. Giving students and staff no warning to the decision, they announced their closure over email.
Faculty was supposed to be the first to receive the email. Instead, due to a glitch, the email was sent to the whole school. Professors learned about the school’s closure from students while others found out about it over the radio. Though the school had been having apparent financial problems, the news came as a complete shock. It left students feeling angry and confused.
“When the school closed, it felt like everyone went into mourning,” Ashley Guthrie, a senior music therapy student said. “There was grief, and it was like we were experiencing a death.”
Like many Marylhurst transfers, Guthrie had to readjust and transition to a different way of life, otherwise she would not have been able to finish her degree. Her first week at Pacific, Guthrie learned how to drive and bought a car so she could make the hour commute.
Guthrie is not the only Marylhurst transfer who had to transition. Music therapy student Katie Husvar is also adjusting to Pacific. At times she says it sometimes feels like she is a study abroad student.
“I still have realizations that the school is gone,” Husvar said. “Working so hard for something and then having it ripped away is really hard.”
Other Marylhurst students found it easier to adjust to Pacific. With Pacific being her third transfer, Hannah Jelinek has not found it as difficult to transfer as some of her peers. When looking at schools to attend, Jelinek looked at both Marylhurst and Pacific and weighed them heavily against each other. Though she preferred Pacific, she choose Marylhurst because of proximity. Now at Pacific, Jelinek feels like she’s come full circle.
“As traumatic and messy as the closure of Marylhurst was, it makes me think maybe I was supposed to be here the whole time,” Jelinek said.
Guthrie acknowledges that Pacific has helped Marylhurst students transition here as smooth as possible. Despite having to transfer in their senior year, all three music therapy students are able to graduate on time.