At 6 AM on February 10th, a text went out to all Concordia University students saying classes were cancelled for the day. No one had any idea why, but students were stressed and wanted to know what was going on. Soon after, at an all student meeting, the university announced that spring term would be their last.
Pacific senior and former Concordia student Kacey Wong was at the meeting with her friends, all juniors at the time. “We just looked at each other and started crying because we knew it was going to be such a stressful situation,” she said.
Some Concordia students chose to do online schooling from other universities, and quite a few more decided to take a break from school altogether. But many, like Wong, were quick to take action in finding a new academic home. “I called Pacific half an hour after the news happened,” Wong said.
Justin McRoberts, Assistant Director of Admissions at Pacific University, was one of the ones immediately put in charge of helping Concordia students work through this sudden news. He had previously worked with the closures of Marylhurst University, Art Institute of Portland, and Oregon College of Art and Craft. According to Roberts, the most important thing from Pacific’s end was to be sensitive to the many incoming students who had lost their academic home.
“It’s not just a purely, you can go somewhere else and get this taken care of. They obviously selected Concordia for a reason,” Roberts said. “So I kind of approach it as giving them a moment of grieving. It’s a loss, and especially with it being very sudden.”
Pacific’s team worked hard to make the transition as smooth as possible for any transfers. Their hard work meant a lot to students like Wong, who felt the response from Concordia’s team left much to be desired. “The thing that was really upsetting was that the higher staff, the people who made the decision to close the school, weren’t helping in the process at all,” Wong said.
“[Pacific’s] goal was to make it as easy as possible,” said Mike Shingle, Director of Academic and Career Advising. “I’m really proud of the work everybody did, from the school directors to the deans to the department chairs. Because this Concordia transition was a heck of a lot smoother than I think the Marylhurst transition was.”
According to Shingle, Pacific took in approximately 60 transfer students from Concordia, making up almost half of the 125 brand new transfer students Pacific took in this term.
“I’m glad that I chose this school,” Wong said. “I feel really reassured by my choice.” Wong was so taken by Pacific’s support through the closure and transfer process that she decided to apply to Pacific’s Physical Therapy grad program for next year.
As for Pacific itself, Roberts says there is no reason to believe a sudden closure like Concordia’s would be in its future. “There’s always the potential of [a closure] happening,” Roberts said. “[But] the nice thing is we have a very diversified portfolio, so we’re very financially stable.”
If there are any Concordia students who need support or assistance, they are encouraged to reach out to Mike Shingle with any questions or concerns. — Bren Swogger
Photo: Concordia’s campus and bell tower on March 16, when many students left campus for the last time upon COVID shutdowns (Kacey Wong)
Bren Swogger is a journalism major at Pacific University Class of 2021. They currently live in Oregon City, OR. They are the creator of Indie/Alt Magazine, and also write for Vortex Music Magazine in Portland.