Vigil will honor Marylhurst as students move on
Students, alumni, faculty and community members will gather on the Marylhurst University campus later this month to pay their last respects to the oldest Catholic university in Oregon.
The vigil, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, was organized by Marylhurst student Bridget Murphy with the support and backing of the group Our Marylhurst.
"Our school's abrupt closure has been extremely painful, disrupting and, for many, traumatizing," Murphy told The Review in an email this week. "We want to provide a space and time for grieving, emotional closure and hopefully some healing, by being together as a community on our beloved campus one last time."
While the vigil is public, organizers say its intention is to be small and to provide a time for reflection and contemplation. Those planning to attend are being urged to RSVP online at www.facebook.com/events/271182477051130.
The gathering will be one of the final events held at the school, which announced in May that it had been unable to counter a trend of declining enrollment and would close its doors before the end of 2018.
With the final academic term complete, that process is now accelerating. Even the school's social media presence is going away, with a Facebook post reminding followers this week that "if there's anything here you want to view or save, now's the time to do it."
For the most part, Marylhurst students have already moved on. Three master's degree programs — Food Systems and Society, Art Therapy and Music Therapy — have been adopted by other schools and their students have been re-housed through teach-out agreements that will allow them to transfer credits and pursue their degrees.
In addition, the school's renowned Art Gym is relocating to the Oregon College of Art and Craft on Oct. 1. "The stewardship that Marylhurst has provided The Art Gym has supported artists and enriched our region's culture for many years," OCAC President Denise Mullen said. "We are very excited to welcome The Art Gym to our campus."
Marylhurst President Melody Rose said she and other university administrators were intentional in deciding which programs to focus on transferring to other schools.
"We focused on moving those programs that are unique in the region," she told The Review last week. "We didn't move other programs where students have a lot of choices. We feel really grateful that colleges across the region have stepped up to help our students."
On July 12, Marylhurst reached a teach-out agreement with Oregon Health & Science University to re-house the Master's in Food Systems and Society program, which examines concepts, perspectives and strategies relevant to social change in the food system through class, gender and racial/ethnic lenses. Since then, 10 Marylhurst students have indicated that they will continue at OHSU, according to Rose.
"Everyone (in the Food Systems program) is accounted for," Rose said. "We had seven students who graduated in June, and three that will graduate in September."
Given OHSU's strong national reputation, Rose said, "It's a big win for our students."
The Art Therapy program has moved to Lewis & Clark College following a July 9 teach-out agreement. "The transition to Lewis & Clark has been way beyond my dreams. It's hard to put into words how great it's been," said Mary Andrus, the program's director.
Andrus said art therapists are able to help clients with a variety of social or language barriers. Last year alone, Marylhurst's students provided 15,000 hours of therapeutic treatment in more than 30 volunteer, practicum and internship sites across Oregon.
Art therapy students go on to work in a variety of fields — with children in alternative schools, community-based and residential treatment facilities, the juvenile justice system and in medical settings — and an increasing number of states now license art therapists.
The move to Lewis & Clark is a tremendous opportunity for the Art Therapy program to "deepen its roots and spread its branches and really grow," Andrus said, and Rose told The Review that most of its students have indicated that they will take advantage of the opportunity.
"We graduated 16 students in June and we are going to graduate another two in September," Rose said. "Twenty-three students have already indicated they will transfer to Lewis & Clark."
Rose said it's not uncommon for students to do the work of transferring without the assistance of the administration, and that about 10 percent of students overall have not shared their plans with Marylhurst officials.
"We're working very hard in our advising center to help the remaining 10 percent find their landing places. The majority are students that have just decided to take care of it on their own," Rose said. "They're adults. I think it's reasonable that not everyone would need our assistance in finding their next step."
Only one student has remained undecided in the Music Therapy program, which will be housed at Pacific University following a June 27 teach-out agreement. Three students graduated in June and 11 were on track to graduate in September, Rose said. The remaining 25 told the school they are transferring to Pacific.
Music Therapy students learn to use music to help patients with challenges in their cognition, physical movement and speech. Benefits can include enhanced communication skills, personal development, learning and self-awareness, but there are few options available for students interested in pursuing a degree. In fact, program director Christine Korb said, Pacific is the only other college in Oregon with a Music Therapy program.
That makes Pacific a great fit for former Marylhurst students, Korb said, and she couldn't be happier.
"Pacific's music department, which houses the Music Therapy program, is of the highest quality, with faculty who care deeply for all students and especially transfer students from other institutions," Korb said. "To me, it means the world to be working for a university that is student-centered and wanting to do the right thing for students who want to continue pursuing their passion and complete the degree to become a music therapist."