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 blogs.multnomah.edu/university. Also, if you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seeking His highest,
Daniel R. Lockwood, Ph.D.