East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, June 13, 2019, Page A3, Image 3

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Thursday, June 13, 2019
East Oregonian
EOU looks at adding new degree program
Sustainable Rural
Systems major set
to roll out in the
fall of 2020
For the East Oregonian
ignated Oregon’s rural uni-
versity, Eastern Oregon Uni-
versity faculty and staff are
developing a curriculum to
bolster the health and econ-
omies of the state’s rural
The Sustainable Rural
Systems major is set to roll
out in the fall of 2020, if
approved by the schools
trustees and the Oregon
Higher Education Coordinat-
ing Commission, according
to Peter Geissinger, dean of
the College of Science, Tech-
nology, Math and Health
“Our official designation
as Oregon’s rural university
is not just about its location,
but its broad impact we are
having for our rural area,”
Geissinger said.
EOU President Tom
Insko said the Rural Systems
degree is one way the school
La Grande Observer Photo/Ronald Bond
Officials at Eastern Oregon University are developing a curriculum to bolster the health and
economies of the state’s rural communities.
is ensuring its curriculum
supports the rural university
“It was developed to ful-
fill our objective to bring
prosperity to rural communi-
ties intentionally designed to
leverage partnerships in the
community,” Insko said.
Eastern’s strategic plan
calls for the school to be
the cultural and economic
engine for rural Oregon and
Geissiner said the Rural Sys-
tems major is designed to help
students better understand
their rural region and its con-
nection to the world through
internships and research
projects, making them more
career ready. To meet this
end, he said the subject mat-
ter has to be offered in a rural
“We want a sustainable
workforce that enjoys a high
quality of life and will stay in
the region,” Geissinger said.
“A student in this major has
to be ready for the commu-
nity as well as job and career
to understand its function.”
To get help fleshing out the
university’s vision, a group of
faculty and local stakeholders
convened for a day last sum-
mer to discuss what degrees
could be useful.
“We took a systems
approach to rural commu-
nities — mental and phys-
ical health, economics and
environment — all the fac-
tors that contribute to the
health of a rural community,”
Oregon Chaplains Academy
holds second annual training
Geissinger said.
The program will have
requirements that broadly
introduce the concepts of
rural systems and then each
student will take 20 credits of
classes in a concentration or
focus area like environmen-
tal resources, rural econom-
ics or community health.
designed so concentrations
can grow as demands and
needs change,” Geissinger
The course of study
includes experiential learn-
ing through research, intern-
ships, community surveys
or working in a hospital or
school, places where stu-
dents can apply their knowl-
edge in real world settings.
Geissinger said students
will work in teams on multi-
year, multi-disciplinary proj-
ects that can be immediately
applied to a community.
“Rural systems are under
stress,” Geissiner said. “If we
want to maintain and grow
them, we have to intervene in
order to make our rural area
attractive to come here and
stay here.”
development is focused
on urban areas where the
Grief counselors
on hand in wake of
Weston student’s death
East Oregonian
East Oregonian
SALEM — Police
and fire chaplains from
around the state attended
the weeklong second
annual Oregon Chaplains
Academy last week at
the Oregon Public Safety
“A lot of people don’t
know we have public
safety chaplains,” said
Eriks Gabliks, director of
the Department of Pub-
lic Safety Standards and
First responders are
often running to the sites
of emergencies that peo-
ple would rather run away
from. Public safety chap-
lains do the same, accord-
ing to Gabliks.
“It’s all about provid-
ing that wraparound sup-
port,” Gabliks said.
From mental health
resourcing to death noti-
fication, chaplains are
there. For first responders,
their families and the vic-
tims of tragedies, they are
ready on call 24/7.
There are around 50
public safety chaplain pro-
grams in Oregon, accord-
ing to Gabliks. Some fire
and police departments
don’t have an official
program, but do have a
“For years, agencies
would ask someone to be
a chaplain, but there were
no trainings,” Gabliks
The Oregon Chaplains
Academy was started by
a group of chaplains two
years ago. They offer a
“basic” course in chap-
laincy, and are planning
an “advanced” course in
the fall.
women, who want to be
chaplains, come out of
this program, they are
certified as chaplains
with police and fire,” said
Hermiston Chaplain Terry
Aside from OCA, the
ence of Police Chaplains
also offers certification
Topics cover a wide
range, from the func-
tional aspects of public
safety equipment to men-
tal health aid.
A springtime course
makes perfect timing,
Gabliks said, since fire
season occurs so soon
after. But also because
more firefighters and
police officers are com-
mitting suicide in the
U.S. than ever previously
And in 2017, according
to a study conducted by
the Ruderman Foundation
in Boston, while 93 fire-
fighters died on the job,
103 took their own lives.
While 129 police officers
died in the line of duty,
140 died by their own
First responders are
also at risk of develop-
ing depression, substance
abuse issues, stress, and
symptoms, according to
a report released by the
Substance Abuse and
Mental Health adminis-
tration last May.
“We can’t not address
these stress issues,” Gab-
liks said.
Aaron Johnson and Uma-
tilla Police Department
Chaplain Peggy O’Neal
were in attendance at the
OCA last week. O’Neal
says she feels she knows
a network of chaplains in
the state she can call for
help and support.
O’Neal is the first of
her kind in the city of
Umatilla, and has yet to
do any work in the field.
A recent retiree from
the Port of Morrow and
volunteer at Two Rivers
Correctional Facility since
2004, she hadn’t heard of
public safety chaplains
until last year.
“Who takes care of you
guys?” O’Neal asked UPD
Chief Darla Huxel during
a New Year’s Eve ride-
along last year. Before
O’Neal began chaplaincy,
Umatilla relied on the
Hermiston Police Depart-
ment Chaplaincy program
for support.
“Everything is new to
me,” O’Neal said. “I’m
looking forward to this. I
feel this is where God is
leading me.”
The chaplain program
at the Hermiston Police
Department was formal-
ized in October 2011 and
currently consists of three
Since that time, they’ve
received uniforms, sem-
inars and trainings. They
offer support on every-
thing from suicide risk
to marriage and family
well-being, in a room that
looks something of a ther-
apist’s office.
“They’re here as a
sounding board for offi-
cers and fire personnel,”
said Hermiston Police
Chief Jason Edmiston.
The subject matter they
speak on with the first
responders is confidential.
“In a profession where
focus on personnel is
remiss, it has been a bless-
ing to have them here,”
Edmiston said.
Single bone found
on reservation not
MISSION — The bone
Umatilla County Search
and Rescue members recov-
ered in May on the Umatilla
Indian Reservation is not
Chuck Sams, spokesman
for the Confederated Tribes
of the Umatilla Indian Res-
ervation, reported the Ore-
gon State Medical Exam-
iner’s Office described
the bone as “Non-Human
Sheriff’s search volun-
teers recovered the bone
while scouring a remote
area on private land on the
reservation after the dis-
covery of skeletal remains
in April. Sams said Uma-
Come Check
Out Our New
WESTON — Crisis
counselors were available
Wednesday for students and
staff at Weston-McEwen
High School after a student
died in car crash.
The school is out of ses-
sion for the summer, but the
Athena-Weston School Dis-
trict opened the library for
the day. Schools Superinten-
dent Laure Quaresma stated
on social media the district
planned to offer additional
support on Thursday.
The district also extended
its sympathy to the stu-
dents and families the fatal
crash affected.
Three teens were in the
1997 Ford Thunderbird that
crashed early Tuesday into a
tree off Wildhorse Road near
Indian Grade Road in Uma-
tilla County. Michael New-
bold, 16, died in the crash.
The sheriff’s office
reported Logan Foster, 18,
of Weston, was the driver
and survived the crash but
required treatment at a local
hospital. He was a graduating
senior from Weston-McE-
wen. A 15-year-old girl also
was in the car. She required
an emergency flight to a
local hospital. Officials have
not identified her.
Mom &
tilla Tribal Police Depart-
ment continues the inves-
tigation of those remains,
but there is no new
information regarding the
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state’s population density is,
Geissinger said. To influence
policy in a world skewed to
urban needs and regulation
constraints, rural leaders
need to find their voice.
“Sometimes rural voices
are drowned out. Effective
leaders are advocates in rural
communities and they need
to have these needs articu-
lated,” Geissinger said.
As Eastern prepares
to launch the new major,
Geissinger said the univer-
sity staff is already reaching
out to high school students
to tell them what is in the
“We would like to involve
high school students with
college students and pro-
fessionals on projects get a
taste of what college is like,”
Geissinger said.
For Insko, the degree isn’t
the endgame for the rural
designation, but the starting
“We are very intentionally
embracing our rural roots as
we create a program that will
make communities across
the region stronger while
bringing experiential learn-
ing to students and sending
them out in the communi-
ties,” Insko said.
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