New Things In Store For Multnomah Bible College & Biblical Seminary

7 comments Written on November 9th, 2007 by
Categories: General

The following letter was sent to many of Multnomah's constituents this month. This information now exists publicly amongst the student body, Faculty, and Staff. We welcome any comments you may have and we will do our best to keep you all informed of any updates we may have along the way.

- Robert Leary, Director of Promotions & Communications.

Dear Alumni, Donors, and Friends:

There's never a dull moment at Multnomah.  In fact, sometimes, things are downright exciting!  I want to bring you up to date on a recent board of trustees' decision that has some wonderful ramifications for the placement and ministry impact of our students and for the strategic fulfillment of Multnomah's mission in the years ahead.

In its September board meeting, the board, after prayerful consideration, unanimously passed a motion that empowers the administration to take all the necessary steps for Multnomah to become a university.  This will involve notification of the State of Oregon and all accreditation agencies, making the necessary legal changes to our institutional documents, and communicating effectively with you, our alumni and supporters.  Our target date for this change is July 1, 2008.

Now, let me supply some background.  Last January, our combined college and seminary faculties presented a resolution to our board to change our institutional name to "Multnomah University" while retaining our two current names, "Multnomah Bible College" and "Multnomah Biblical Seminary."  This had been discussed for several months, and it is very important that you understand the reasons behind this recommendation.

First, the recommendation is student-centered and ministry-motivated.  Over the years, we have received numerous requests from students intending to serve overseas as career missionaries.  Some encountered immigration obstacles in entering certain countries if officials learned they were graduates of a Bible college or a seminary.  Furthermore, the word "college," we discovered, is understood in some countries to denote high school-level education.  "University" is more widely recognized as collegiate or baccalaureate-level education. 

Consequently, these students requested for a more neutral name to appear on their degree since they often must show their actual diploma to immigration officials.  Believe me; they are not ashamed of their Multnomah Bible College or Biblical Seminary education.  Far from it!  Rather, they simply want greater access to the countries to which God has called them.

Last fall, this need for unfettered student placement intensified when the college began planning our new teacher education program.  Several wise Christian educators with considerable experience in public school education advised us that our graduates could face severe employment obstacles simply with the name Bible in our name.  Now, all of us consider this program, which certifies qualified men and women to teach at the elementary level in public schools, to be a mission-fulfilling and ministry-enhancing program.  The faculty sought to remove any unnecessary obstacle to our students' vocational goals.

Second, the recommendation anticipates future strategic planning.  With our four seminary masters programs, we qualify with the State of Oregon to become a university.  However, some of our planned graduate-level programs do not fit a seminary curriculum.  Our Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree, scheduled to begin this January, is a case in point; and other master-level programs (e.g., TESOL and Humanitarian Studies) are in our long-term strategic plan.  Faculty and trustees anticipate a day where a future Multnomah Graduate School division would become necessary.  An appropriate name like Multnomah University would more accurately reflect our developing institutional structure.

Several names were considered, but "Multnomah," with its powerful name recognition, always had priority of place.  "Multnomah College" did not solve the confusion over the level of education, "Multnomah Biblical University" did not avoid the objection of closed countries, and "Multnomah International University" was just too much.  In the end, "Multnomah University" seemed just right.

Finally, there are things that this change of name does not mean:

  • It does not signal a change in our mission.  We still remain committed to "educating, equipping, and enriching Christians for leadership in their church, community, and world."
  • It does not mark an elimination of the requirement of a significant core of Bible and theology courses for every student that graduates from Multnomah.
  • It does not trigger a metamorphosis from a Bible college to a Christian liberal arts college.  Remember, a Bible college possesses three fundamental values: (1) a solid, required core of Bible and doctrine for every student; (2) a strong, campus-wide emphasis on spiritual life; and (3) sustained Christian ministry experience concurrent with one's academic learning.  These three values continue to characterize Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary.

I applaud the faculty on its student-sensitivity and the board on its thoughtful and strategic decision.  Now I invite you to interact with us.  I have already held a number of helpful forums with alumni and supporters.  These have been very fruitful and open times of discussion.  We have set up a section on our website where you can interact with us.  You can log on at  Also, if you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact me directly at

Seeking His highest,

Daniel R. Lockwood, Ph.D.



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7 comments “New Things In Store For Multnomah Bible College & Biblical Seminary”

I am excited about Multnomah’s move to University! Thanks to all who had a part in the decision process!

Jen Herzer
MBC class of 1998

How exciting for a new outlook!!! I’m so glad the school prayerfully thought of every aspect and let us also know that the Bible was still the main core and life of the school. (Not that I doubted this)
Onward and Upward

Bonnie Lesher
MSB Class of 1983

I agree. I think that is fantastic! May we always strive to be strategic in reaching the world for Jesus.

MBC Class of 1989

I think this is a great idea!

grad class MSB 78

It’s a great move. Thank You Jesus for the way you have honored the commitment to You and Your Word demonstrated by decades of faculty, students, and staff!

MBS ’99

The timing of your letter was a confirmation in the leading of the Lord for My wife and I to go to assist a resident American team in S. E. Asia next summer. Just today we met with our missions pastor regarding the potential of our going Our documantation will necessitate not indicating that we graduated from a Bible School (1964 & 1972). It be nice if some kind of written statement from the University would be available indicating that our Certificate of graduation comes under the auspicies of Multnomah University.

Wow, it’s about time is all I can say. I am the Dean of Faculty at Providence High School, a private independent Catholic high school owned by the Sisters of Providence. My journey into education began in 1987 when I first tried to get credentialed in California. What a huge eye-opener that was. My Bible College education was like an albatross hanging around my neck. I faced discrimination every place I applied. Finally, God stepped in and opened the door at UCLA. After getting my credential in Adult Basic Ed and ESL with a CLAD cert, finding employment was the next hurdle. LA Unified wouldn’t touch me with my BC degree. Burbank Unified did finally but with serious reservations. In 1990 I applied to Montana State University with the intent of earning a Masters Degree. Again, I was turned down because of the Multnomah name. I received raised eyebrows, snickers (really, snickers), condescending verbal pats on the head followed by “thanks but no thanks, perhaps if you redid your degree at a recognized and accredited university…” Brother!

Anyway, I finally won a Madison Fellowship and a Keck Fellowship toward a Masters in American Studies through Pepperdine University. This included a summer session at Georgetown sponsored by the Madison Fellows. I went on to graduate with honors, largely because of the excellent basis Multnomah gave me and because God chose to empower me.

For the last 16 years I’ve been working with the Sisters of Providence as a US History teacher and now, as the Dean of Faculty and Summer School principal. I offer all of the above information to support my assertion that the name change is long over due. We need to remain the same inside, just as God remains the same but we must reshape our delivery style to accommodate the needs of the world around us. To fail to do this is to fail in our assigned ministry; to go and teach all nations. I support this change whole-heartedly and I look foreword to the possibility of hiring some Multnomah University grads to come teach for us at PHS.

R J Talley
James Madison Fellow
Dean of Faculty, Providence High School
Burbank, CA