By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: For Linfield, a time of transformation

It’s transformation time at Linfield University, where prolonged years of turmoil are evolving into a series of institutional and operational changes. But turbulence continues to bubble beneath the surface, and interim President Rebecca “Becky” Johnson will need wide-open eyes and ears to help chart the best course forward.

Linfield stories were prominent this week in our 2023 Year in Review: million-dollar settlement of a fired former professor’s whistleblower lawsuit; firing of the basketball coach and his wrongful termination lawsuit, now scheduled for trial in October; unexplained leave and reassignment for the athletic director; resignation of the university president; and announcement that Johnson will take those reins on Jan. 1 while the search goes forward for a permanent replacement.

There also are significant achievements in recent years: Conversion of Linfield College to university status; creation of its School of Business; opening of the new Portland Campus for Linfield’s School of Nursing; celebrated unveiling of the new science complex in McMinnville.

All of that is very visible. Still, behind the scenes:

Quietly, in April, a misdemeanor harassment charge against former Linfield Trustee David Jubb was dismissed following his successful completion of an 18-month probation for inappropriate contact with Linfield students. That unreported court action concluded an extended public spectacle that brought unwanted national attention, the professor’s lawsuit, new leadership for the Linfield Board of Trustees, and still-unresolved feelings by many that top-level apologies have been insufficient.

In October, also unreported, the Linfield basketball coach lawsuit produced this court order:

“The parties expect to exchange documents and information relating to employee information, medical records, personnel records, sensitive business information, confidential education records … and other documents affecting privacy interests. The parties agree that the entry of this Protective Order is warranted to protect against disclosure of such documents and information.”

Behind that calm legalese, there reportedly are private results of an intense investigation into Linfield Athletic Department activities by outside experts in employment law. No one is talking openly, but insiders know that for years, something has been wrong in that area of Linfield’s culture.

Linfield should do all it can to resolve the basketball coach’s lawsuit prior to what could become a problematic public trial. New leaders should identify and constructively engage some still-festering internal and external situations. There are opportunities for improvements in community relations, Linfield needs to find a new president with abundant skills best suited to current and future challenges.

And of course, this fall, Linfield football should hit Year 68 of “The Streak!”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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