When students arrive at Bushnell University on Thursday, Aug, 20, they will be among the first university and college students in Oregon to return to campus.
Over the following three days, Bushnell students will be moving into university housing and preparing for face to face classes with their professors and peers starting Monday, Aug. 24. However, the upcoming semester at Bushnell is like no other for any university student anywhere.
“The beginning of every new school year brings with it a contagious, positive energy that charges the promise of hope that only a Christian higher education experience can bring students in the pursuit of wisdom, faith, and service,” said Joseph D. Womack, Ed.D., President of Bushnell University. “The Fall 2020 semester is no exception as we continue to embrace the daily measures brought on by COVID-19 that are necessary for us to stay healthy, engage in our studies and to be socially responsible, while we also celebrate our new name, Bushnell University, and the University’s 125 year anniversary.”
Over the summer, and after three years of planning and campus engagement, the University transitioned its name from Northwest Christian University to Bushnell University.
“Our University’s namesake, James Bushnell was the first president of the school’s board of regents when it was founded in 1895,” Womack said. “He was man of unwavering faith and tremendous grit and resilience. They are the traits that we see in our students and alumni, and will need to be invoked by all of us as this pandemic continues.”
New signage, window and wall treatments, university apparel and other changes will greet this Fall’s Bushnell students. So too will a staff ready to assist them as they transition back to campus.
“Requirements from the state of Oregon and Center for Disease Control and Prevention dictate that move-in for students and their families will be different than in past years,” said Michael Fuller, M.S., Vice President for Enrollment and Student Development. “For example, students are limited to two family members to help them move their belongings into their room as opposed to past years where students could be accompanied by multiple guests.”
Students will also meet some new campus companions that will greet them in every building: hand-sanitizing stations and signage with COVID-19 reminders to wear hands-free nose and mouth coverings, observe social distancing, and asking students to stay in their residence if they aren’t feeling well. Classrooms will be cleaned and wiped down after every session.
Fuller said, “The directives from the state of Oregon and the CDC have guided a deep, on-going cleaning of the campus, and other requirements, including new classroom configurations, plexi-glass-like clear barriers in offices, and facilities scheduling to accommodate social distancing while delivering meaningful learning and campus life opportunities.”
The Office of Student Life has been in frequent communication with students and parents to make sure they know what to expect on campus. All information about campus life in the time of COVID-19 is also posted on the Bushnell University web site, including what students should do if they are not feeling well, as well as health care and testing resources and mental health services.
“Part of our service to others is do things that keep us and others healthy,” said Greg Brock, Dean of Students & Director of Residence Life. “The most important things students, staff and faculty can do is to take advantage of the opportunities to educate themselves about ways to stay healthy, take the necessary precautions, communicate regularly with each other, and, if you don’t feel well to stay in your room or home and if you are not feeling better, go to the doctor.”
For students who wish to study at Bushnell, but are unable to physically attend classes on-campus, accommodations are being granted for these students to attend their classes online.
“Online education is not new to Bushnell, so moving students to the online platform is an accommodation we can easily make for those students who want to forgo in-person classes,” Fuller said.
Womack says Bushnell University is ready for students to return. “We have missed our students and are so happy they will back on campus.”
But as far as a formally celebrating the University’s name change or it 125th anniversary, he says, “We are going to celebrate all year long that we are together and taking care of each other; that we are Bushnell; and that we follow in the footsteps of wisdom, faith, and service that our alumni have forged for more than 125 years.”