Multnomah Alumni Share Jessup Similarities

Multnomah Alumni Share Jessup Similarities

Mark Harris 

As the Multnomah Campus of Jessup University takes shape, similarity of mission and culture are paramount among both institutions. Alumnus Mark Harris had the privilege of attending both Christian universities and believes his life and faith walk has been positively impacted from these academic establishments. “Both institutions are centered on God’s word, and dedicated to educating the next generation of students. I experienced that in both places,” Harris said. 

Harris enrolled in one of the first cohorts of Jessup’s Adult Degree Completion program, where he earned his degree in Management and Ethics in 2005. In its early days, the program operated out of a strip mall across from Sierra College while the Rocklin campus was being renovated. “During my time at Jessup, I watched the construction of the University unfold,” he said. Harris’s on campus experience consisted of meetings in the prayer chapel, or cafeteria and study sessions under construction lights. 

Out of his seven-member cohort, Harris recalls all were employed in secular work, but very active in their own churches. “Jessup really did a good job of integrating faith and learning. That was when I started actively learning to incorporate my faith in the marketplace. Essentially, Jessup was the catalyst that helped me know that sharing my faith could work effectively and demonstrated ways to make it possible, whether it was in the break room or at lunch.”

With a background in finance and banking, pursuing management and ethics made sense but as he neared graduation, Harris began to contemplate what God had for him next. “I was wondering if I should stay in banking or pursue some sort of ministry,” he said. “I knew I liked strategic planning and many aspects of pursuing a pastoral path so, having an advanced degree would be helpful. It was my cohort advisor and former professor, Peter Henderson who told me that if I didn’t do it now, I never would, and that really resonated with me.” 

Harris and his wife Heather began the process of searching for a degree program on the West Coast. “At the time, the saying was, ‘If it’s the Bible you want, then it’s Multnomah,’ so we visited and really liked what we experienced,” he said. “I was drawn to Multnomah’s ministry management program because it had good content coupled with a strong reputation, so we sold our house and moved to Portland.” 

In 2008, Harris received his Master’s in Pastoral Studies with an emphasis in Ministry Management. “I really am thankful for how God used Multnomah to shape my cultural sensitivity, empathy and compassion,” he said. “I came with a lot of background from my undergraduate education but at Multnomah, I took lots of theology and culture engagement-type courses and fully appreciate the balance of sound biblical theology and mission I received. That training helped me in the work I do today.”

After graduation, Harris worked in various fundraising and development roles. Most recently, he represents globally known World Venture as vice president of partner ministries. There, he is part of the global operations team that provides leadership and direction to the mission, vision, and global community representing hundreds of global workers bringing the Gospel as they serve all over the world. 

“Something that stands out to me in terms of similarity between the two institutions becoming one is the pursuit of cultural relevance,” Harris said. ”Despite both campuses being located in two very different areas, the mission entails working toward the same goal and asking the same questions. How do we engage students and witness to the broader community?”

Harris’s fondest memories at both institutions revolve around the relationships and community he built. “The interactions I had with my professors were really quite formative for me. I still keep in contact with them, one of them in particular. It’s that type of relationship with professors that I think is important for students to experience. Seeing that happen for other students as the Multnomah Campus of Jessup University is launched is my desire as this new chapter begins.”

Kevin Pischke 

God has a funny way of bringing things full-circle in our lives. Jessup’s Associate Vice President of Student Success, Kevin Pischke experienced that type of unique moment when he learned about Jessup’s recent acquisition of his alma mater, Multnomah University. “When I heard about the acquisition, I was sad, but overjoyed that Jessup has a chance to help,” Pischke said. “My heart has nothing but fond memories of that campus. It’s where I met my wife, grew in my faith and established a direction for my career. It’s where I knew I wanted to be part of God’s work here on Earth.”

Credited as the “inaugural” graduate of Multnomah University’s newly launched history program, Pischke graduated with a double major in biblical studies and history in 1999. Making the decision to attend Multnomah came after attending community college followed by a study abroad program in Israel that planted seeds for his love of research as well as to study and grow in his biblical knowledge. 

Despite the fact Pischke went on to earn two master’s degrees, one from Dallas Seminary in Christian education, the other from University of North Texas in library science, he ascribes his life trajectory to what began in Portland. “So much of my career journey can be attributed to attending Multnomah,” Pischke said. “Hands down, no question about it, my Christian college experience was the best. I loved biblical studies and learning history through the lens of Dr. Daniel Scalberg made a big impact on my life.”

Eight years ago, Pischke served as a member of Multnomah’s alumni council while working as Jessup’s dean of academic support and resources. “It was a great opportunity to connect and be in touch with the heartbeat of the Multnomah campus community,” he said. Pischke noted the similarities both institutions share from program accreditation, to developing adult degree completion, online and athletic programs.