February 8, 2012
I have just returned from a visit to our COMP-Northwest campus in Lebanon, Oregon, and it’s probably an understatement to say that I came away impressed and gratified by the COMP-Northwest faculty, students, and administrators, as well as the local and regional leadership in the mid-Willamette Valley.
I could not have asked for a finer welcome. The Strawberrian Limousine service, provided by the city of Lebanon, took me from my hotel to campus, with Lebanon City Councilman Bob Elliot as the driver’s co-pilot. Arriving on campus, I was greeted by a double line of applauding staff members going up the stairs to the front door. This was followed by a meeting with students, all of whom were in their white coats - their idea - and who discussed a wide range of topics with me. I felt a very strong connection to the students during our conversation, which was stimulating on a variety of fronts.
That discussion was followed by a musical presentation from a small choral group in the COMP-Northwest Recital Hall, which once again reminded me how broadly talented so many of WesternU’s students are, and how their gifts in other areas so richly inform their work and studies as future health-care professionals.
I also met with local, regional, and state leaders, including Lebanon Mayor Ken Toomb, Councilman Elliot, City Manager John Hitt, and field representatives for Oregon’s senators and Congressman Peter DeFazio. This group also included Mike Cowgill, COMP-Northwest’s Advancement Board chairman; Derrick Sorwelde, DO, a COMP-Northwest Advancement Board member; David Walls of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of Oregon; Roger Nyquist, chair of the Linn County Board of Commissioners; Shelly Garrett, director of the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce; Leslie Stevens, a COMP alumnus and community preceptor for COMP-Northwest; and Becky Pape, CEO of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital.
I also was touched by a meeting later that day with local school representatives, including Sarah Halley, a Lebanon kindergarten teacher who - long before COMP-Northwest’s actual opening - established a partnership with WesternU and COMP-Northwest, and created Kindergarten University at her school to encourage her young students to aspire to a college education. Mrs. Halley presented me with essays written by her students. I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude and hope for our future as I read these messages, which thanked COMP-Northwest and WesternU for being a partner in building dreams. I cannot imagine a finer keepsake from my visit than these messages.
I also was pleased to be able to tell students, faculty, and the public who were involved in the visit that WesternU is keenly interested in bringing even more colleges to the Pacific Northwest when the conditions are right. Although the specifics of such plans will not be determined for some time, it is clear that the environment being created at COMP-Northwest, the Samaritan Health Sciences campus itself, and the communities of the mid-Willamette Valley will be ready to help us expand our mission when the time comes.
As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU's Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at email@example.com, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.
My best to you all,