By Jay Ponteri

I’m an associate professor of English and director of Creative Writing at Marylhurst University, and I feel some concern over the Dec. 26th article, “Enrollment plunges at Marylhurst University, as feuds, financial losses threaten recovery.”  I’d like to share another perspective than what was offered in the article that better represents the overall MU community.  Marylhurst is my employer of 16-plus years. I write this response out of the love for our students. That love and dedication to our students makes me work harder with my dear colleagues on the best set of solutions. Teaching is my vocation, and our faculty, full-time and part-time, is filled with amazing professors who answer our respective calls, each and every day.

So what was most disturbing to me about the article is that it relied on opinions of a former colleague who recently departed and interviews with a limited number of part-time faculty who may not understand the complexity and reasons for changes that our faculty and staff, in collaboration with Dr. Melody Rose and Dr. Ann Marie Fallon, are making to curriculum, enrollment services, advancement, marketing and communications, and other administrative processes. This article did not even include any perspective from full-time faculty.

I believe with my whole heart in the changes we’re in the process of making. These changes take time and space to unfold. In past years, our class sizes were often (not always) too small, and academic departments offered too many courses, which decreased class sizes further. Full-time faculty teaching loads differed from department to department, creating issues around equity and fiscal irresponsibility. In 2014 when President Rose joined the Marylhurst community, she began working with our newly formed Faculty Senate to make necessary changes to our faculty model—that, in the past, depended way too much on part-time faculty—curriculum design, policies around budgeting and student services. Our Faculty Senate formed a governance structure, worked openly and candidly with administration, dedicating untold hours to curricular reform and academic restructuring. Most recently, under the leadership of Dr. Fallon, faculty, staff and administrators are together formulating a master academic plan to increase enrollment, retention and matriculation. This plan includes strengthening existing programs through curricular revisions and creating new programs to better serve the Northwest’s varied educational needs.

I acknowledge that not everybody here is comfortable with the changes. And while I could write 10,000 words discussing why I think our University has experienced this decline, I prefer to use this space otherwise. I prefer to see this present moment as an invitation to better serve our students. I want our students to know this: our faculty, staff, and administrators are here to serve you, and we do so with love, passion and humility. I believe Marylhurst offers a sacred space, an intellectual space, a safe space for a community of non-traditional learners in transformation, and our faculty and staff are working very hard to humbly serve you and will do so for years to come.


Jay Ponteri
Associate Professor, English

As part of the Marylhurst community, we add our names in support of this letter:

Nancy Hoover, University Librarian
Nathan Phillips, Director of ITS, Academic and Support Services
John Urang, Assistant Professor of Film and Media
Dr. Meg Roland, Associate Professor of English, Department Chair
Dr. Justin Smith, Assistant Professor and Director of Choral Activities
Paul G. Gilbarg, Part-time Faculty, School of Business
Daniel (Dan) L. Waldron, CMBA, Adjunct Instructor, School of Business
Paul E. Rogers, Senior Instructor
M.J. Radosevich, MBA faculty
Janice Leonetti, Faculty, Education
David Denny, Ph.D., Chair of Communication, Media and Culture, Faculty Senate President
Simona Beattie, Director of Marketing and Communications
Ben Verdoorn, Board Liaison & Events/Leasing Manager
Scott Mazzuca, Full-time Faculty
Dr. Keri Behre, Assistant Professor (English)
Chris Wiley, Access Services, Shoen Library
Rod Johnson, Chief of Staff & Title IX Coordinator
Laura Beer, Ph.D., MT-BC, Chair of Art, Music & Creative Arts Therapies
Fred Isaacs, Associate Professor, School of Business
Chuck Anderson, Adjunct Instructor, Business Ethics
Bethanie Smith, Alumni
Kirk Howard, Public Services Librarian
Michael Whelan, Bookstore Manager
Edward Brewington, Faculty
Rebecca Burkeen, Alumni Relations
Lynn Brown, Director of Career Services and Internships
Sister Joan Saalfeld, V.P. for Mission Integration
Victoria Harbick, Assistant Controller
Susan E. Marcus, Chair, Campus Business & MBA Programs
Stephen Huckins, Associate VP/Controller
Kelly Ann Chee, Grants & Communications
Rich Rollins, Associate Professor
Perrin Kerns, Associate Professor, English
Tracy Reisinger, Director of Financial Aid
Julia Reisinger, Credential Evaluator, Registrar’s Office
Mary Moss, Financial Aid Advisor
Joan Jagodnik, Director of Student Services
Nicola A. Sysyn, VP for University Advancement
Karen Pederson, Communications & Content Manager
Ryan Clark, Director of Admissions
Lacey Hughes, Admissions Assistant
Sally Harmon, Piano faculty
Liz Layman, Marketing Project Manager
Wendy Weil, Graduation / Transcript Coordinator
Michelle Krause, Assistant Manager of Campus Store
Mary Andrus ATR-BC, LCPC, Faculty & Fieldwork Coordinator, Art Therapy Counseling
Jacquie Begemann, Admissions Counselor – Undergraduate Programs
Dr. Sheila O’Connell-Roussell, Associate Professor – Religious Studies
Jessica Rose Western, MT-BC, Adjunct Faculty, Music Therapy Department
Dr. Jerry Roussell, Jr., Director & Associate Professor of Religious Studies Programs
Maruska Lynch, Admissions Counselor
Laura Sequeira, Admissions Counselor
Priscilla A. Sissem, Faculty
Candace Sorenson, Full-Time Faculty
Brittany Hughes, Financial Aid Assistant/MAT Student
Victoria Reis, Admissions Counselor
Mike Randolph, Faculty, Communication, Media and Culture; Coordinator, Marylhurst Core
Keelan Cleary, Director of ITS, Infrastructure and Enterprise Services
Tonda Liggett, Associate Professor, Education
Debrah Bokowski, Interim Director, Graduate Interdisciplinary Studies
Ivonne Saed, Literature and Text:Image instructor
Jan Carpenter, Chair, Education Department
Kathleen B. Vincent, Ed.D, Associate Faculty
Kathleen Kaczor, Campus Minister
Sarah Petrich, Director of Human Resources
Sandy Pittenger, Donor Stewardship Manager
Victoria Wortham , Student Leadership Council President and INT undergrad student
Sean Gillon, Faculty, Food Systems and Society
Greg Crosby, Adjunct Faculty, Human Sciences and Art Therapy
Cecilia A Ranger SNJM,PhD, Alum, Former professor, Board of Trustees Member
Anne Girardelli, Associate Registrar
Debi Meyers, Vice President for Finance
Courtney Vanderstek, Education Department faculty member
Mickey Jacobson, Associate Director of Financial Aid
Denice Ghores, Payroll Administrator
Michael Ooten, Security Director – Facilities Department
Kathrine Lee, Music Therapy Student/Marylhurst Music Therapy Student Organization President
Debi Ooten, Receptionist
Blake Shell, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director and Curator of The Art Gym and Belluschi Pavilion
Dan Gassoway, MDiv, Alumnus
Julia McBride, Program Assistant, Marylhurst Music Programs
Nancy Hiss, Faculty
Edward Vranizan, 20 year Board of Trustees member
Emily Frey, Writing Instructor
Kim Brooksby, Receptionist
Jerrold Pritchard, Adjunct Instructor of Music
Angela Louise Hoy, Proud Marylhurst student
Melissa Cadish, Program Assistant, Education Department
Tamra Palmer, Music Therapy Student
Cheryl David, English Literature and New Media student
Lizzie Beach, Interdisciplinary Student & Campus Store Employee
Rebecca Lockwood, Program Assistant: Dept of English, Dept of Communication, Media & Culture, Dept of Human Sciences
Braeden Dillenbeck, ELW Alumnus
Timothy Merritt, ELNM student
Elizabeth Moscoso, ELW, Alumna
Sister Wanda Marie Jordan, SNJM, Alum/Past Board Member
Christopher Coryell, MBA ’15 Alum
Kim Heinrich, Program Assistant, Dept. of Art, Music and the Creative Art Therapies


Another perspective to Oregonian article

6 thoughts on “Another perspective to Oregonian article

  • December 31, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Jay, I truly enjoyed my class with you this term, and I love Marylhurst. Every instructor I had this term was positive and encouraging, despite all that was happening behind the scenes. Each one showed steadfastness and dedication to the students. However, this is all very sad for me. Imagine starting out in a department that is being dismantled with promises of restructuring. It has a destabilizing effect, regardless, but even more so, given the circumstances. What is unspoken can be as powerful as what is spoken, especially for those of us with life experience who can see into the invisible.

    As a new student, I began the term with no knowledge of what was occuring, but the talk among students, along with my own private observations and impressions brought disturbing things to light. Any questions I felt safe to ask, did not provide clear answers, because no one could talk about it.

    Change is never easy and rarely pleasant, that is a given. The way these changes have unfolded thus far has been confusing and distracting, at best. I began my first term at Marylhurst with excited anticipation and ended it feeling disheartened.

    I chose Marylhurst because I expected an environment of inclusiveness that one would find in a small private school. Naturally, to see and hear of so many good instructors leaving raises so many red flags for me.

    I had hoped for Marylhurst to be an environment of inclusiveness, in which dialogue is encouraged, and where students and faculty are not penalized for voicing disagreement. After finally resorting to research online regarding the biographical history of key players in this drama, and I am not so sure anymore. I sense a different mindset and philosophy around leadership than I naively expected, I suppose.

    As I write this letter, which may come across as less than 100% favorable, I am apprehensive as to what the consequences will be for expressing honest reservations. That is one of the effects this environment is having on me, and perhaps others.

    I also can’t help wondering if there will be repercussions for any staff or faculty who did not sign your letter. What would cause me to feel that way?

    As you can see, my faith in Marylhurst has been shaken by the way in which these changes are taking place. Not everyone who feels this way will say so.

    What I know for sure, is time will tell, and the outcome will be the final judge. In the meantime, I hope you are right, but I will take it one term at a time.

    Lori Katzin

    • January 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Lori,
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this matter. Change is confusing. I absolutely understand that, as a student, you would have apprehensions about your program right now. We are going through a lot of change and that can cause concern – especially with so much information being shared that may be conflicting. If you haven’t already, please reach out to Joan Jogodnik (Director of Student Services) or your academic adviser to talk about your degree program, if you have concerns. I do want to say, though, that the INT program is not being dismantled. You will be able to complete your degree – just as thousands of Marylhurst graduates before you. And thank you for stating you will take this one term at a time. That’s all we can ask: your openness and time to work, collaborate and move forward together to continue the legacy that is Marylhurst.

      Also, the next student forum with President Rose is set for Wednesday, Jan. 13 (5 – 6:30 p.m., room TBD). Student Leadership Council is hosting and an announcement about it should be going out early next week. That’s another great opportunity to share your concerns.

    • January 2, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Dear Lori,
      Thank you so much for your note, I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to engage in a conversation about change on campus. I’m so glad you had a chance to work with amazing faculty like Jay, and like our faculty in INT. Change is hard but it is especially hard when students have their learning experiences disrupted and that to me is probably the most painful part of your note.

      It is really important to know that Interdisciplinary Studies is not being dismantled. We are bringing together the undergraduate and graduate programs. This will actually allow us to offer a more robust curriculum and help students (when they are interested) move from an undergraduate degree to a Masters degree with greater ease and lower costs. We are right in the middle of a national search for that position and candidates should be on campus in January doing public presentations of their research. I hope you will look for those announcements and try to attend or to view their presentations online.

      Also in Master Academic Planning, we have been deeply immersed in thinking about growing and improving multiple programs and Interdisciplinary Studies is CHIEF among them. There are actually a few proposals looking specifically at different possible ideas for expanding the Interdisciplinary Studies and I hope you’ll be able to give us feedback on those in February.

      David Denny, Faculty Senate President, is chairing the Interdisciplinary Studies search committee, and he is writing an update for the community to publish on the blog this week.

      Thanks again,
      Ann Marie Fallon

      • January 6, 2016 at 7:40 pm

        To: Anne Marie Fallon, Simona Beattie
        From: Lori Katzin, Interdisciplinary Studies, Integrative Health

        Thank you for your replies. If the Interdisciplinary program is not being “dismantled”, as you say, then perhaps you can clarify for those of us in the INT program, the following statement in the MAP white paper from 12-7-15:
        “How do we weave in interdisciplinary studies? Ideas include: Eliminate INT & disperse across major choices, norm structure and choice.”

        It sounds to me as though you are considering (or planning for) eliminating the INT major, in which students are taught the process of interdisciplinary thinking, and given the guidance, guidelines, and academic freedom necessary to create a self-designed academic program that satisfies their educational goals.

        • January 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm

          Hi Lori,
          It took me a bit to find your quote. You are actually quoting from a small portion of our meeting notes on 12/7/15 in the Academic Strategies Council. It’s a snippet of conversation where we were talking about what it would look like to make every undergraduate degree into an interdisciplinary studies focused degree.

          There were a couple of white papers submitted that deal with interdisciplinary studies in multiple forms. Other papers are looking at making interdisciplinary studies into a degree with more concentrations. The white papers are IDEAS that we solicited from people across campus and they all offer different, oftentimes competing ideas for what we might do in the future to strengthen our degrees. The full papers will be considered, online and also in person, in community conversations starting on Feb 5th. The Master Academic Plan will get built out of that input.

          And just to clarify, not all of the white papers will be in the final strategic plan, not all of the conversations will either. But we have to create a space as a campus where we can put multiple ideas on the table and have those discussions as a community.

          If you have an idea for interdisciplinary studies and what you would like to see, I would encourage you to submit an idea to the MAP. We might also, for example, revisit the concentrations in INT, are Sustainability and Art Therapy Prep the right concentrations? Are there others? All ideas are up for conversation for the future. I want to assure you; however, that these conversations will not impact our current students who are already pursuing their degrees at Marylhurst. If you want to complete your Interdisciplinary Studies degree with a concentration in Sustainability as it exists now, you certainly should and can!

          We are expecting a couple more white papers before we publish all of them for the campus. If you would like to make a proposal, that would be great, this is the moment. These ideas don’t have to be elaborate either so feel free to go here to submit:

          I hope this helps clarify things a little and why these conversations are important. What is really exciting about the MAP is that it is about imagining the future. I hope you can help us dream big about what that looks like.

        • January 8, 2016 at 8:01 pm

          Anne Marie,
          Thank you for taking the time to reply. I will submit some ideas, as your invitation suggests, but my question was primarily in regard to the self design option.
          I believe strongly, that many global, as well as local issues are calling for an interdisciplinary style of inquiry and approach. Therefore I wholeheartedly appreciate the value of including classes that are based on that premise, as long as learning the process of interdisciplinary inquiry itself is not lost. If so, the questions that need to be asked throug the process of inquiry might never be asked.
          I see interdisciplinary studies as one of Marylhurst’s foundational strengths that make it unique and desirable.
          I would strongly encourage you to keep the area of self design in INT , as well. The self inquiry, research, creative thought process required in putting together a self designed area of concentration is rigorous, challenging, and deeply rewarding. I feel deeply fortunate to have had the rare opportunity be supported in this process, as it
          has been deeply transformative.
          Marylhurst is the only school in the entire area that provides a self designed option, therefore I see it as something that can actually be a great brand marketing tool as well. After all, it has been well attended, and that should tell you something.
          Adding a few additional pre- designed areas of concentration might be a good idea, yet the self design concept seemed to be the most popular path with my fellow INT classmates, and we came from multiple demographics.
          With predesigned concentrations, I feel it is vital that a class like INT 300 is included, so that students have the opportunity to truly understand and experience the process of interdisciplinary inquiry for themselves. Pre designed course work , while valuable and useful, may entirely miss the mark in that regard, and that would be a great loss.


          Lori Katzin
          Interdisciplinary Studies, Integrative Health


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