Interim president, renovated chapel greet new students

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The chapel in Marylhursts historic BP John Administration Building recently was renovated.Hundreds of students celebrating the dawn of another year at Marylhurst University on Monday stepped onto a changed campus.

For many students, the first week of fall term featured a first glimpse of a renovated chapel in the BP John Administration Building and the discovery that a different president has taken the reins. New developments aside, students remained the same as ever, striving for a degree to help reach long-held dreams.

Interim Marylhurst President Jerry Hudson said he expects to helm the 120-year-old university for about a year while the search for a longterm leader is underway.

Hudson said the next president could be in place in summer SUBMITTED PHOTO: MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY - Jerry Hudson recently became the interim president at Marylhurst University.

Until then, he said, he is “trying to make the institution as strong as possible to attract the best candidates for a permanent job as president.”

After five years as Marylhurst’s president, Judith Johansen resigned in August and said she would be serving on nonprofit and corporate boards in the area. Meanwhile, the university will benefit from Hudson’s decades of administrative experience, including 17 years as president of Willamette University and 11 years as the executive vice president of the Collins Foundation.

As a 75-year-old retiree, Hudson said he took the interim position because he sees no reason to stop being active. That’s the same reason he sits on several nonprofit boards, including that of the Collins Foundation, he added.

Hudson said the challenges facing Marylhurst are as they are at any school, and they’re “nothing that wouldn’t be helped by more students, more contributions.”by: REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Marylhurst students Stacey Mills, left, and Nathan Wilkerson chat in the student lounge on Monday.

The school has about 1,400 graduate and undergraduate students, including Loretta Jones, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in June. Jones hopes to use the areas her degree encompasses — communications, business management and leadership — to spearhead an effort to provide goats to African women with AIDS. The goat milk would nourish the women’s babies without the risk of transmitting HIV through the breast milk so the babies “have a chance at life,” she said.

“If I can make a difference in the life of one baby, why would I not do it?” Jones said.

Nathan Wilkerson is another Marylhurst student who expects to earn a bachelor’s next year, and post-graduation he aims to fulfill a longtime dream of joining the Peace Corps, which requires a bachelor’s degree for most of its volunteer assignments.

“I’m kind of getting nostalgic for the campus now that I’m about to leave,” said Wilkerson, an English literature and writing major.

Kathryn Brimhall, Krista Lamproe, Elizabeth Owen and Bethanie Smith transferred from community colleges before enrolling in Marylhurst.

“It’s our first, first day,” Brimhall said.

They seemed to be enjoying their new stomping grounds.

“I’m in love with this school,” Owen said. “I work in the bookstore because I love it so much.”

So far, the quartet is thrilled to be done with requirements and to focus on their sphere of interest: creative writing.

“I’m excited to just be starting my classes for my major,” Lamproe said.

Smith agreed.

“We’re just getting to do what we’re supposed to be doing. ... We want to be creative and make up stories,” she said.

The student study lounge in the BP John Administration Building, which the four young women were enjoying on their first day, is just down the hall from Marylhurst’s freshly remodeled chapel. The painted stained glass windows of the chapel remain as vibrant as ever, although the site now sports better acoustics and sleek wooden chairs instead of stadium seating.

The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary established Marylhurst in 1893 in downtown Portland and in 1908 bought 63 acres between Lake Oswego and West Linn, which the sisters named Marylhurst. The administration building was among the first structures completed on the campus in 1930.

“There’s, I think, a good history here. ... There is a tradition that means a lot,” Hudson said.

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