If you are like me, you are wondering how this event will play out in the next weeks, months, and years. Things are certainly very murky right now. For Gutenberg, however, the college’s future looks bright. Classes continue. Our students remain enthusiastically engaged. Our recruiting for next fall is looking good. We have applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan that will provide a welcome financial boost. And several new efforts are just getting off the ground, including two exciting end-of-summer conferences. Assuming stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, we will host our Summer Institute, “Struggle and Hope,” in early August and our Education Conference, “The Art of Learning,” in early September. Check them out on our website, and if you register, be assured that we will make provision for the possibility that we might have to cancel or postpone the conferences.
Most importantly, however, Gutenberg’s future looks bright because Gutenberg College has the right message at the right time in the world of higher education. Many colleges and universities are doubling down on technology and extracurriculars to enhance their market share, especially in the face of financial uncertainty. Actual education is conceding to market forces. Gutenberg, however, stands out as one of the few places that still places top priority on the souls of its students. Many students and families share that priority, and Gutenberg is well placed to provide them a home.
Speaking of home, many students remain in residence at 1883 University Street, and the meal program continues. Special thanks to Gil and Erin, our house managers, for keeping things going smoothly. Residents are staying at Gutenberg as much as possible but enjoying the opportunity to interact in their “house.”
Gutenberg classes are continuing online using the Zoom platform. Although online classes can’t replace in-person discussion, they are going well, and students are able to discuss and interact. The discussions this term are particularly pertinent and interesting since we are discussing works from the twentieth century and students are making connections with our current situation. The ideas have them all thinking.
On the online front, a donor recently gave a generous gift of $1,000 to upgrade our Wi-Fi in the building. (Thank you!) This upgrade has significantly improved the quality of audio and video streaming for those residents who continue to live at Gutenberg and, thus, has greatly benefited Gutenberg online discussions, reducing technological impediments to student interactions.
We also learned that many companies are offering improved donor-matching programs during this period. Our board chairman, Paul Pindell, was able to take advantage of such a gift-matching program at his company. (Thanks, Paul and F5 Networks!) If you work for a company that offers gift-matching, this is an opportunity for you to double your impact at Gutenberg. If you have time, it is well worth looking into.
We, the faculty and staff, are thankful for all of you who follow Gutenberg College, showing interest and support for our efforts and our students. We are thankful that God has given this wonderful opportunity to use our talents in order to serve our students and community. If you would like to join us in our endeavor, we invite you to do so. There are many ways.
May God bless you all and give you Hope in these times of trouble.
No one said life was going to be easy. And it’s not. Suffering and trials are built into the fabric of our world. If you are like me, then you are struggling to make sense of and deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. I am concerned about friends and family, for people who have contracted the virus or who have lost jobs or income, and for students at Gutenberg College. But we have an excellent reason for hope in the midst of our concern. God does not desert us when we suffer trials. Instead, He uses our suffering for good. We can use this time and remind ourselves of what is truly important: the hope of the gospel of Christ.
At the start of spring term, Gutenberg College—like other Oregon colleges—will not be conducting classes in person to help stem the spread of the virus. Our decision to do this is in response and obedience to Governor Kate Brown’s executive order for institutions of higher education. We are also postponing some upcoming public events and community classes. They will resume as soon as possible. Please watch your email or check our website—gutenberg.edu—for updates.
Online classes will present a new set of challenges since a central aspect of Gutenberg’s educational approach is personal and relational learning. Students learn from the texts of the Great Books but do so in the face-to-face context of a community of other learners. A good portion of the process is learning how to speak and listen and how to be patient, kind, and forbearing with others. This can happen to an extent online, but it’s a far cry from being in the same room together. Nevertheless, I believe our students will meet this daunting challenge. They have shown themselves capable of perseverance in the face of difficulties and are willing to work within constraints. (In spring term, I am looking forward to our discussion of The Plague by Albert Camus. It is always an excellent book to discuss, but it will have added significance this year.)
We are working to upgrade Gutenberg’s internet and Wi-Fi infrastructure to make online classes operate smoothly. We have applied for a grant through F5 Networks to help pay for those upgrades in a timely fashion. F5 is a network company where both our board chair, Paul Pindell, and alumnus James Simas work. (James has been volunteering his networking expertise to the college for several years. Thanks, James!)
Despite the challenges, we at Gutenberg are enthusiastic to continue to serve our students and those of you who benefit from our offerings. We feel blessed by God to be able to have the opportunity. We know that He is in charge and that through our suffering we are working out our salvation.
[We chose our topic for the 2020 Summer Institute—Struggle and Hope—before the pandemic. If you want an opportunity to reflect on suffering and hope, please join us August 6-8—assuming, of course, we don’t have to cancel.]
Our best wishes to all of you. We pray for you to stay healthy and for your lives to be disrupted as little as possible. But most of all, we pray that you have hope in the gospel and that you continue to run the race. The goal is a worthy one.