Northwest University Blog

Fall 2020: A Return to Campus

Dear Northwest University Community Member,

In my previous communication, I announced that Northwest University would be “open for business” in the fall. I am happy to be able to share with you our plans for safely resuming our residential education. While it may be different from the typical college experience, we are committed to the success of all of our students as they continue to pursue the call that God has placed on their lives.

For the most up to date information, visit our Northwest University Return to Campus page.

Thessalonians 5:16-18 urges us: “Always be joyful, never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” That essential Christian attitude and posture leads us to great excitement for the school year ahead! We can’t wait to welcome everyone back to their studies—on campus, online, and on to victory. Here are some high points:

  1. Returning Students: We rejoice in the desire and ambition of our continuing students, who have confirmed their return to attendance in overwhelming numbers. Housing sign-ups and fall registrations (from both returning and new students) give us great confidence for a successful return to regular operations. These things encourage us, as they indicate that our learning community remains vital and our people value their degree programs highly and have kept their faith in the future strong.
  2. Community Health: We have prayerfully and carefully put together plans to prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff in the fall. The recent guidance to colleges and universities for reopening from Governor Inslee ensures that the government will allow us to carry out necessary realities with due care. Our County has entered Phase 2 of the reopening plan, and we expect to enter Phase 3 by August. We are thankful for the opportunity to persist in our mission and have committed ourselves to following all of the government-mandated procedures to ensure the safest environment possible in the fulfillment of our mission.
  3. Dual-delivery Courses: We thank God for the financial stability and strength that have allowed us to invest in the software, equipment, and supplies necessary to provide safe and successful classrooms. We have adopted a highly-flexible dual-delivery model, that will allow in-class, face-to-face students and remote students to attend class together. This will allow healthy physical distancing in the classrooms and give students the ability to continue their learning no matter what surprises may arise. For example, a student who cannot attend class due to sickness or quarantine will be able to continue to attend class remotely, and to move back and forth seamlessly between the two modes as their circumstances require. Faculty will have that same flexibility as well. Classrooms will have capacity limits to maintain physical distancing so there will be rotating student attendance based on course registration and room limits.
  4. Spiritual Vitality: The Spiritual Development of our community will continue despite gathering restrictions. While we will not be able to have large gatherings as we have customarily enjoyed, we will have regular corporate opportunities for worship and teaching and ministry in socially-distanced propriety—along with other efforts to provide opportunities to everyone for growth in Christ.
  5. Housing: Housing has turned out to present less of a challenge than we had initially anticipated. We have formulated a good plan for maintaining safety in our residence halls and cafeteria. Dorms will operate in a reduced overall capacity with a new housing option to help us accomplish a healthy living environment. You will be receiving exciting details from Rick Engstrom, our Dean of Student Development, very soon.
  6. Online Programs: The good news this year includes strength in NU Online and continued success in the Northwest Partnership Program. You have probably noticed that we always distinguish between “remote learning” associated with our face-to-face programs and “online” programs. The two delivery modes have very different instructional designs and features.  NU remains committed to innovating in supporting student learning for an ever-changing future.

In closing, I reiterate our commitment to joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. In these turbulent times, Northwest University makes its strongest contribution to the health of the nation by remaining fully focused on the values of the Kingdom of God. The theology of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. focused on the formation of “the Beloved Community”—a society in which every member received the love and faith and care and aid of all others. Arising from the beatific values of the Kingdom of God (viz. Matthew 5-6), the Beloved Community will never be fully realized until the final victory over sin is accomplished in the Return of Christ and the Renewal of All Things. Until then, the persistent pursuit of beloved community here and now for the glory of God makes NU a special place in this broken world. No matter what crises of health, economics, society, and politics may roil around us, we will remain committed to the success of every member of this amazing family that God keeps forming, year after year after year.


Joseph Castleberry, Ed.D.