Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Growing up here, this couldn't happen

By Callie Vandewiele '08 
The photo on the front page of the CNN website at 8:58 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11 was a little disconcerting. It was a little disconcerting because it was of a place where I grew up. 

And on Fox News, BBC America and MSNBC, it was the same thing. 

The CNN headline reading "Gunman Opens Fire in Oregon Mall" was placed over a photo of the cinema where I watched the first Spider-Man movie and griped about the shiny Hollywood-style concrete they put in when they redesigned the entrance. 

The last time somewhere this familiar to me ended up on the news was in 2007, when an Eagle Creek man who was being evicted locked his three 200-pound pigs in the house before the bank repossessed it. They destroyed the house. That made the front page on what was perhaps a slow news day at The Oregonian. This is different. 

Growing up in Estacada, you kind of get the feeling that this sort of thing happens somewhere else -- not here. Sure, there's domestic violence. Some of us drop out of school, it can seem like half of us face serious battles with drugs and alcohol before we're even legal, and we all knew someone who got pregnant in 10th grade. 

But that's different. That stuff happens, and it happens to people we know. 

Someone walking into the mall -- the mall where I grew up, where I went Christmas shopping, where my sister worked for one eternal holiday season -- and pulling out a gun? That doesn't happen. In my mind it can't. At least, not here. But it did, and the proof is everywhere. It's odd to see the Clackamas Town Center layout spread across pages and pages of the Internet. 

Clackamas. Home. A place I wasn't allowed to hang out at alone until I was 16. It's so mundane. So Clackamas County. We're supposed to be famous for being bumpkins. Not for mall shootings. 

The awful truth is that this has been a reality for people in Colorado, people in Virginia, people in Texas -- Americans throughout the whole country -- a lot longer than it has been a reality for me. 

I always felt sad, shocked and bothered whenever I'd see the word "shooting" dance across the top of a news page. "Wow," I'd think, "I wonder if we can help." Then I'd follow it up with "I'm so glad I'm here, far away from all that. It's been a long time since anyone did anything like that here." 

Facing it, up front and personal like this, in a place so familiar to my high school years, suddenly reminds me how we are not immune to a form of violence that is increasing across the country. 

Vandewiele '08 pictured above
We can no longer disassociate ourselves from that bitter, dark trend. As the days and weeks unfold, we'll grieve with families, the 6 o'clock news will run grim expositions on what might have driven a human being to do this, people will fight for gun control and other people will oppose it. Eventually, the Clackamas County sheriff will release a report, and the whole thing will die down, fading slowly into history. 

For now, we will pray, send good thoughts, gather as a community and heal. What we should not forget is that this is not an isolated incident. Unless we take a long, hard look at the underlying causes, it won't be too long before another community has to face the terrifying and brutal truth that this is a national problem, and that this kind of violence has roots that run deeper than simple personal psychosis. To solve it, we need to do more than mourn. 

Vandewiele '08 graduated from Pacific with a degree in Politics and Government, and currently work for Girl Scouts of Oregon and SW Washington. She is an avid bicycle commuter and local improviser. This piece was originally showcased as a Letter to the Editor for The Oregonian.

Monday, December 17, 2012

An Inside Scoop of Phonathon

By Zach Willits '14

It’s a strange thing to call someone who you have never met and, in a matter of minutes, build a relationship where you are comfortable enough to ask them if they would like to make a gift to Pacific University. However, while as strange as it is, Phonathon is probably one of the best networking events I have ever been apart of.  The conversations I got to participate in are ones I am not likely to forget anytime soon.

Being a phonathon caller, I got to hear stories about how the school, I go to now, used to be and how peoples’ experiences here at Pacific varied according to what they were involved in. Being a football player myself, I was able to relate to the football alumni who we called on a more personal level. These conversations were some of favorite conversations. 

When I got to Pacific, there hadn’t been a football team in 20 years. I did not know what Pacific was like and, more specifically, what football was like before I got here. It really made me appreciate what we have now and where are going as a football program.

The best advice or story I received was from an alumnus who played football here about ten years before the disbandment of the program in the early 1990’s. He told me that wins and losses do not matter, rather it is the relationships with the people and the life lessons you learn that make all the difference. He told me that the memories are the things that will ultimately stick with you for the rest of your life. He advised that people do not necessarily care what material things you accomplished in your experience at Pacific, they will remember you for who you are and what you did for others. In my opinion, these kinds of conversations are valued just as highly as a monetary gift to Pacific.  

The Pacific University phonathon program had great success this semester thanks to all of the alumni, parents and friends that took the time to talk to callers like me. My experience with Phonathon was one that I am not soon to forget and I will remember it fondly once I graduate from Pacific University in May 2014. 

Zach is from Medford, Ore. and graduated from North Medford High School. He is majoring in biology and plans on attending either medical school or apply for a school of optometry after graduation. He enjoys wakeboarding and any outdoor activity. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A New Face to Alumni Relations

Moshofsky on her "first day of school"
By Ginger Moshofsky

After a week and a half at Pacific University I am energized and excited at the world of possibilities I see before me. 

I am enjoying the planning for Forest Grove STAR (Student Teacher Alumni Reception), Golden Guard Luncheons, PUB Nights, spirit nights, speed networking, reunions and the mother of all events, Homecoming. 

Not only do I love this process, working on these events and more, but I know in the future I will have the opportunity to meet so many people that I anticipate will become good friends.

I so appreciate that I have been so kindly welcomed. People have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable. Both Martha and Rachael have spent their time getting me up to speed on the events, processes, directions and information I need to know.

What do I bring to the table? I am a graduate of Lewis and Clark College where I studied English and theater. I studied overseas in Italy, France and Russia. I still speak a little Italian but unfortunately my Russian and French are rusty. Interested in languages, I also spent three years studying American Sign Language and am still conversant in Sign.

I have been an event planner since I left college, first for an arts festival, then the March of Dimes, an elementary school, Borders (the now defunct book store) and Reed College. I am a founding board member of Mask and Mirror Community Theater and love all situations where I can wear a costume and ham it up a bit.

I feel ready to take on this new challenge and as an event planner, it is a special privilege to be able to do an event more than once. I look forward to retaining the elements of the events that everybody loves and hopefully add a few new ones of my own. Please come by and introduce yourself. We are upstairs in the Abbott Center and would love to see you.

Moshofsky is the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and can be reached at or 503-352-2828.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Past and Present Dinner

Schreurs '14
By Evan Schreurs '14 

Last month, I was invited to the home Jerry Albright ’94 for this years’ Past and Present Dinner. Having participated in prior Past and Present Dinners, I had an idea of what to expect upon arrival. However I had never met Jerry or knew any information about him so when I visited his home I was surprised. 

I was under the assumption that I was invited to the home of an alumnus who was part of a class who graduated prior to 1970, since this is what my experiences had been before. Also since my particular major is history, a less common degree among current Pacific students, I was not assuming to meet an alumnus who had undergone the same area of research. 

Upon meeting Jerry it was obvious he was a more recent graduate than I had expected. After the standard salutations and handshakes, I learned that not only had Jerry majored in history but had also been taught by some of the same professors that I am currently taking classes from. This was wonderful! Some of the same professors he had worked with and developed great relationships with were the same that I am currently being taught by. 

Jerry was also excited to learn the reasoning for me to attend Pacific was the small school appeal and student/faculty connection. One of my reasons for coming to Pacific was because I had made great relationships with the faculty in my high school and I looked for a place that I could do the same. 

Jerry chose Pacific for the same reasons and as an alumnus who has gone on to work in the professional field, he assured me that having that connection with educators was crucial. Jerry actually roomed on the same floor of McCormick Hall that I was lived on too!

I visited with Jerry and his daughter for about two hours and covered a vast amount of topics relating to Pacific and current events. Something Jerry reiterated to me was how useful his History degree was. Knowing this was reassuring as a soon to be graduate, with how competitive the job market has become this offered a light at the end of the tunnel and motivation that my degree will be worth my efforts.

Before leaving for the night Jerry offered me his personal contact information in the event if I ever needed help or just would enjoy coming and visiting once again. This act shows just how much a personal connection means to members of the Pacific community. I had never heard of Jerry before that evening but after talking with him for a short while we had developed a friendship based on our mutual experiences at Pacific. 

I encourage every student and every alumni to participate in future Past and Present Dinners. I feel that more throughout the year and larger participation by current students and alumni would benefit the Pacific community as a whole exponentially. 

For alumni, it is a nice reminder of their days on campus and why they may have chosen to continue to live in Forest Grove. For students, the home cooked meal and being able to hang around pets is a wonderful feeling that gets overlooked by students, it can only happen during the holidays when returning home. With the Boxer community however this feeling of home can be recreated for an evening. 

Schreurs '14 is a program assistant in the Office of Alumni Relations and is the co-president of Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Story of Paul's Window

By Bryce Kerschner '14 
Every year, students pass by many windows located in McCormick Hall en route to classes, events, or various activities throughout the school year. Having lived in McCormick for a year during my sophomore year at Pacific University, I remember passing by the same window on the east wing stairwell. The only feature which made this window distinct happened to be a small plaque proclaiming it as “Paul’s Window.”

Paul's Window is located in the stairwell of McCormick Hall
A sub cursory glance, which many students, including myself, are only able to provide, only reveals Paul Osterander served during World War II and lost his life returning home from a mission in Germany. 

Being the only memorial on campus dedicated to a student lost in World War II, other than the Alpha Zeta walk located behind Marsh Hall, its vagueness left me wanting to know more both about Paul and Pacific’s history with veterans. 

The plaque was dedicated in the Mac Hall on October 25, 1947 by former President Walter Giershbach. The wing was expanded to accommodate an increased enrollment at Pacific resulting from veterans returning from the war to complete their education. Paul Osterander was one of the many who were not as lucky to return, dying one month before his twenty-first birthday.

Paul was born the youngest of three children in 1924 near Whitewater, Wisconsin. His father, Clinton, was a veteran in the First World War who became a minister once he returned to the states. After being ordained in a congressional church in Omaha, Reverend Osterander moved his family out to Wisconsin, where Paul was born. 

Always the adventurous child, Paul started out as a lackluster student. While being both unenthusiastic and poor in several class categories, Paul didn’t really connect with the material until after his parents relocated to the Seattle area. 

In his junior year of high school, Paul earned his first “A” in a geometry course which sparked a higher application in the rest of his course work. His marks improved throughout his senior year and gave Paul the chance to enroll in college to study law. 

During his freshman year at Pacific, Paul was very involved with the many activities on campus ranging from the freshman mixer, rookie initiation, homecoming and the attempted burning of the Linfield bonfire. Paul also found himself on the road with the debate team, doing yearbook artwork in the basement of Marsh Hall and was an active member of Phi Beta Tau. However, he also had a deeper reflective side. 

What many may not have known was that Osterander deeply opposed the war. Despite his personal convictions and religious upbringing, Paul chose to enlist in the Army Corps reserve and was called to active duty in February of 1943. 

By the summer, Paul was a cadet in flight training at an Army airbase in the Southwest, which appealed to his adventurous side, athleticism, and love of nature. Paul graduated from advanced training as an exceptional pilot earning the coveted silver wings and commission as a Second Lieutenant. Before deployment to England Paul was chosen to fly the single-engine P-47 “Thunderbolt” fighter and was assigned as a replacement pilot with the 78th Fight Group near the village of Duxford, north of London.  

In the autumn, Paul was flying missions over the continent supplying protective cover above American bomber formations striking strategic targets in Germany. 

Despite many pilots trying to aggressively run up a string of personal “victories,” Paul had an immense satisfaction in protecting the bombers and their crews and was pleased to be referred to as “angels from heaven” by the men he protected. As the missions continued and their hazard levels rose, Paul had mixed feelings about the operations which he revealed to his parents in a letter in January of 1945:  

“I think that I am near to being a pacifist. I admit that I am not a good soldier when it comes to strafing in particular. I never get the urge to…tear down to the ground and shoot everything that is German. But when I read an article about ‘Nazi War factories’ I know that if I were to come close to anything like that I would be certainly moved to do something.” 

Being only 20 years old, Paul was a flight leader and soon would become assistant operations officer of his squadron. It was his level of maturity that stood out among all of Paul’s admirable qualities and served him well in the next year. Two months shy of his 21st birthday, he was a veteran of over fifty combat missions. 

On March 31, 1946 Paul was escorting bombers to Stendal, in north-central Germany when they encountered heavy flak from enemy gunners. A quick inspection by his wingman revealed only a small hole in the tail of Paul’s plane but just to be on the safe side they set a course for Duxford. After crossing the Dutch coastline, they headed across the North Sea towards England. About 50 miles west of The Hague the engine in Paul’s plane unexpectedly caught fire and forced the pilot to bail out. As he descended towards the sea, Paul’s inflatable life raft fell away but he still managed to get out of his parachute. His wingman circled overhead but with the rough sea he only managed to keep him in sight for a few minutes after attempting to navigate the Air-Sea Rescue plane to the location of the downed pilot. Despite the many hours of searching, Paul was gone. 

Paul Osterander died just shy of his twenty-first birthday. A month after Paul’s death, Hitler committed suicide as the Russians closed in on his bunker in Berlin. A week later, the war in Europe was over. In the two years since he left Pacific to fight a war he was reluctant to enter, he had flew sixty combat missions but did it with a moral code based on respect and honor. In a letter to his parents he recorded his thoughts about the war, and ultimately his fate:
“As far as my feelings on the war are concerned, I do not like it. When I see what they are doing to Germany and the great cities, the futility of it all is the thing that hurts. When I see what a tough time the GI Joes (ground troops) are having…I have nothing to say, I am a bystander. I have no more right to live than the hundreds who have died unjustly, yet I am willing to try what others will try. If you don’t understand this just rest easy and remember that I am happy no matter what happens.”

As I paused to read the plaque adorning the window of McCormick Hall, I thought to myself how my feelings would have been different if I knew Paul’s story. A man who sacrificed an undoubtedly successful future for generations to come, even if it meant to support an act he found disdainful. But the way Paul approached the war without sacrificing his moral or ethical code spoke bold words about his maturity despite being very young and inexperienced. 

Perhaps this is the true message of Paul’s Window, not one glorifying war or those fallen but who will you be when the unexpected happens. Would you still be able to uphold your moral code? Could you still make the best of the situation? Most importantly, don’t forget about a man who exemplified a good and just person; a simple student who wrote beautiful poetry about a world free of violence and full of love. 

The same man who became a war hero because he realized without sacrificing his life towards ending the violence it soon would reign over many more innocent lives like his own. Think of Paul on Veteran’s Day this year and stop by McCormick Hall and look out through his window sometime and see life through his eyes.

Kerschner '14 is the Communication Assistant for the Office of Alumni Relations.