Ellen White Letter Discovered at Pacific Union College; Experts Confirm Authenticity

By Becky St. Clair on February 6, 2019

A previously undocumented letter penned by Ellen G. White, co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has been discovered in the archives at Pacific Union College. Last week, several scholars reviewed the letter and confirmed the incomplete document was indeed in Ellen White’s handwriting.

“Judging from the scholarly stir that followed, I would say that is a significant historical find,” says Katharine Van Arsdale, PUC’s official archivist and the document’s discoverer.

Four years ago, Van Arsdale found what appeared to be a letter from Ellen G. White in a small metal cabinet designed to store maps. She noted the letter, dated May 9, 1882--one month after PUC began officially holding classes--was incomplete and lacked a signature, although someone had written in pencil the author was Mrs. White.

“I regularly took that letter with me into classes as one of several artifacts illustrating the history of PUC and the stores of its archives,” Van Arsdale says. “I would show it to the students as something ‘probably’ written by Ellen White.”

Last week, Van Arsdale presented to a class of freshmen for James Wibberding, associate professor of applied theology and biblical studies. During the class, she asked Wibberding if he happened to know, from the course...

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Point In Time: Social Work and Mathematics Students Assist with Government Survey

By Becky St. Clair on January 31, 2019

In late January 2019, several PUC classes assisted local agencies with a government-required Point In Time (PIT) count of the homeless in Clearlake, California. Students in Human Behavior in the Social Environment developed their basic client assessment skills; those in Program Evaluation conducted research on an existing community program; and students in Statistical Methods studied how statistics can provide insight into local communities and play a role in securing and directing resources. The Principles of Counseling class was invited to take part for hands-on experience.

“Research shows when we take classroom skills and bring them into real world experiences, our students, college, and community all benefit,” says Christy Mantz, instructor of social work and service-learning coordinator. “Students are able to see a need first-hand, utilize critical thinking skills to solve community or agency problems, and then act using theories they’ve learned in the classroom to address the community issues.”

According to Mantz, in 2018, Lake County reported 615 homeless persons to Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal entity which requires the PIT count. Of those 615, 591 were unsheltered due to a lack of emergency or temporary shelter in Lake County.

As the students surveyed people experiencing homelessness, Mantz says they heard...

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PUC Music Ensembles to Tour SoCal

By Becky St. Clair on January 31, 2019

Pacific Union College’s Vox Pro Musica, directed by Jenelle Westerbeck Anderson, and Orchestra, directed by Rachelle Berthelsen Davis, embarks on their winter tour to Southern California next week. All events are free and open to the public.

Anderson will lead Vox Pro Musica in several pieces, including William Dawson’s famous Ain’a That Good News! and a Moses Hogan spiritual, We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace. Additionally, the choir will sing Durufle’s Ubi Caritas. The latter’s text reads:

"Where there is charity and love, God is there.
The love of Christ has gathered us together,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Let us revere and love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one another."

“This is a beautiful a capella motet based on medieval chant,” explains Anderson, “with a text that reflects the overarching theme of all the choir's sacred music this year: Peace and Community.”

Orchestra, led by Davis, will perform Ernest Bloch’s Concerto Grosso No. 1 featuring soloist Nathan Kim on the piano. Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos in G minor highlights soloists Aaron Baluyot and Andrew Caster. They will also perform works by Bach and Telemann, as well as several hymn arrangements.


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Pacific Union College Partners with PG&E in Fire Resilience Zone Project

By Becky St. Clair on January 25, 2019

PUC and PG&E announce a partnership as another step in making the college and all of the Angwin community safer, with a project creating what is called a Resilience Zone.

“In the aftermath of the Santa Rosa, Tubbs, and Atlas Peak fires of 2017, PG&E was looking for ways to quickly but safely provide power to areas in which power was cut due to fire risks,” explains Brandon Parker, VP for financial administration at PUC. “The Resilience Zone project will deploy pre-installed distribution equipment that can safely facilitate the provision of temporary power during emergencies.”

The pre-installed interconnection hubs (PIH) will provide a “plug and play” infrastructure enabling PG&E to connect temporary generation to the distribution grid at predetermined locations. PIH consist of a transformer and associated interconnection equipment, ground grid, and grid isolation and protection devices. Pre-installing this equipment will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to connect temporary generation to the grid.

“Angwin was selected as an ideal location for a Resilience Zone because it is within a High Fire Threat District, as defined by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC),” Parker continues. “As part of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, they are implementing additional precautionary measures to help...

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A Legacy of Equality: What Martin Luther King Means to PUC

By Sarah Tanner on January 24, 2019

January 17, 2019, marked PUC’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Colloquy, a time when students and staff alike are encouraged to reflect on King’s influence on both the American conscience and in their own lives.

President Cushman opened with an apt quote by King, saying, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” He then went on to explain this year’s colloquy would be slightly different than previous years, in that the discussion regarding King’s legacy would be expanded to celebrate the ways in which his life and teachings have impacted all students and faculty at PUC.

The audience was treated to the college’s gospel choir’s vibrant performance of “Faithful is our God” before Tammy McGuire of the department of communication took to the stage to introduce the day’s speakers. A discussion panel of seven professors, faculty, and students were invited to join McGuire at the front and take part in explaining how King had impacted their own lives and experiences. Included in the panel was Sharon Mapes, associate vice president of finance, Joseph Scott, psychology major, Greg Schneider, professor of psychology and social work, James Cephas, professor of psychology...

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PQ Rise To Offer Science Experiences for High School Students

By Sarah Tanner on January 24, 2019

PQ Rise will be held for the first time during the summer of 2019 as an extension of PUC’s popular PacificQuest science experience. PacificQuest initially began as a program designed for middle school students. The immersive PQ Rise experience was created as a next-step program for those interested in STEM fields, aiming to provide freshman and sophomore high school students with a hands-on introduction to the sciences.

“It gives bright and inquisitive students an opportunity to learn new subjects from college professors,” notes Floyd Hayes, professor of biology and PacificQuest instructor. “It also is designed to inspire students to attend college and pursue their passion in this field.”

While the program seeks to encourage students to explore biology as an academic and career option, the ultimate goal of PQ Rise is to better prepare students for life in college.

Vola Andrianarijaona, professor of physics and previous PacificQuest instructor known to all as ‘Dr. Vola,’ explained many students asked for another program after attending PacificQuest in middle school.

“Many students kept in contact on social media, and shared an interest in attending PacificQuest even after their age made them ineligible,” he explained. “PQ Rise allows these students to continue pursuing their interests in the science...

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A Conversation with Winter Revival Speaker Aren Rennacker

By Becky St. Clair on January 18, 2019

Aren Rennacker is currently the youth and college pastor at the Calimesa Seventh-day Adventist Church. After graduating in 2007 from Sacramento Adventist Academy, Aren went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in PR and journalism from PUC in 2011, then his master’s in theological studies from La Sierra University in 2017.

One of four kids, Aren has myriad stories from his childhood, during which he dreamed of winning a spot on an NBA team.

He will be speaking during PUC’s Winter Revival, Jan. 22-25, and his theme is “Authentic.” We caught up with Aren so we could all get to know him a little better (how did he go from basketball star to youth pastor?) as we prepare to receive his insights on authenticity and God next week.

Read the full Q&A with Aren on our blog.


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A Powerful Voice: History Grad Receives Grants, Awards for Research

By Becky St. Clair on January 16, 2019

In the early decades of the 20th century, a baby girl was born to German parents in Ukraine. In 1957, that baby girl, now grown, immigrated with her family to the U.S. from Germany. In 2014, her granddaughter, Erika Weidemann, graduated from Pacific Union College with a degree in history, and has since won a number of grants, fellowships, and awards for her research on German-American history.

For her dissertation, titled "A Malleable Identity: The Immigration of Ethnic Germans to North America, 1947-1957,” Weidemann received research grants from the Glassock Center for the Humanities, the Society for German American Studies, and Texas A&M University. These competitive grants ranged from $500 to $5,000 and were awarded for the significance of her research topic.

Weidemann also won the Keeble Dissertation Award, given to the best dissertation project in the history department at Texas A&M, the German Script Award from the Quadrangle Historical Research Foundation for her work with German primary sources, and the Fasken Research Award, given to those who combine excellent research with a passion for teaching.

“The family connection got me interested in the topic at first,” Weidemann says, “but the research has become more fascinating the longer I study it.”

Weidemann first began...

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Halcyon—Encaustic: Guest Artist Diana Majdumar at Rasmussen Art Gallery

By Becky St. Clair on January 10, 2019

The Rasmussen Art Gallery on the campus of Pacific Union College will host the opening reception for an art show by guest artist Diana Majumdar on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 7-9 p.m. Majumdar’s work will remain on display in the gallery through Feb. 10.

Majumdar works primarily with encaustic painting, which utilizes beeswax with damar resin mixed in for elasticity.

“While it is melted, the wax can be applied with brushes, one brushstroke at a time, like you would with regular paint,” Majumdar explains. “Except wax begins to harden the second it leaves the hot plate, so I have to work fast.”

Though she graduated with a BFA in drawing and painting from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, art was never Majumdar’s career goal.

“It was actually my dad’s dream to be an artist,” she says. “His parents insisted he pursue a ‘useful’ profession, so he became an auto mechanic, but we often watched him draw or use watercolors casually at home.”

Years later, Majdumar recalls, both she and her sister took an entrance exam to an art school in Estonia—the only way to study art with proper instruction.

“Both of us failed,” she says, “but only our dad was devastated.”

Passing would have meant...

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Words to Notes: Honors Student Composes Piano Version of Jane Eyre

By Becky St. Clair on January 7, 2019

Many people have created movie adaptations of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre; there’s even a musical based on the Victorian novel. But few—if any—have attempted to capture their interpretation of the well-read romance on piano.

Until now.

Laurel Kwon, senior English major and Honors student at Pacific Union College, recently completed her final Honors project, for which she translated her understanding of Jane Eyre into a ten-minute piano composition.

“It was more difficult than I thought to write music based on a plot that’s already been written,” she admits. “I usually tend to just improvise and create a melody out of that, but it was actually quite fun to take on the challenge.”

Kwon has been playing piano since the age of five, and has grown up creating and composing at the keyboard whenever could. When she took “Victorian Literature in Britain” last year, Kwon felt compelled to delve more into Jane Eyre, crediting her professor, Dr. Linda Gill, with her interest, saying Dr. Gill “can transform boring rocks into blooming, fragrant flowers in her classes.”

As she contemplated her senior thesis, Kwon hit upon a unique idea: “I thought it would be fun to connect my English major side with my musical side,” she says....

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