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Zach Powers '10

A hospital worker wearing their nurse uniform
Lutes on the Front Lines 1024 504 Zach Powers '10

Lutes on the Front Lines

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Two former Lutes served on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, one of the hardest-hit states in the nation.

Dr. Sean Boaglio ’13 triaged patients in two parking lot tents at Stony Brook University Hospital, where he’s the academic chief resident in the Emergency Medicine Department. His wife, Chrissy Boaglio ’14, is a physician assistant who works at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan in the OB/GYN department, where every woman giving birth is tested. She also administered tests in a parking lot — about 70 people a day — and volunteered to help at a Long Island community hospital on the COVID-19 Emergency Response Team.

Both worked almost around the clock. Chrissy stayed at a hotel her hospital provided, because there was no way to do it all with a long commute. The couple didn’t see each other a lot, but when they did, they worked out (even if it was just in their living room) and turned off technology to relieve stress.

“You can’t prepare really for a disease like this. It’s exciting and an honor to be a clinician at this time, but at the same time terrifying,” Chrissy said. “You can do all the studying you want, but it still wouldn’t prepare you for what we’ve been seeing here in New York.”

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PLU Regent Charleen Tachibana ’77 is the senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Virginia Mason Health System, where she oversees quality and safety for patient care, including the practice of nursing. During the outbreak of COVID 19, she served as co-commander of Virginia Mason’s incident command center.

“I don’t think we’ve had anything of this magnitude and of this type of intensity. We’ve had other types of unknown factors that have come in during my career. Like when the AIDS epidemic came in, it was unknown. It was slower and maybe didn’t cause the same level of hysteria in such a concentrated period of time,” she said. “We have significant challenges around shortages of PPE (personal protective equipment) and the lack of testing abilities. Just a lot of unknowns that vary from day to day, that then need to be addressed.

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Erin Azama ’01 teaches special education at Grant Center for Expressive Arts, an elementary school in Tacoma’s North End. When schools turned to remote learning due to COVID-19, she had to figure out how to stay connected with her students.

For some families, remote learning was especially difficult — access to technology and supplies were hard. Some already were overwhelmed trying to access food and rent, she said.

Like other teachers, her goal was to help make sure the kids were safe and learning. She would tell parents having trouble teaching math from the book that day to take the lesson into the kitchen while making banana bread.

She’s used to getting creative and thinking on the fly because there is no such thing as a routine day when you are in education — even minus a pandemic.

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Duke Paulson ’93, MAE ’01, is the executive director of Tacoma’s Rescue Mission, which serves the city’s homeless population. He and his staff rely on 7,000 volunteers a year to help with everything from distributing meals, to cleaning, tutoring and more.

But when COVID-19 struck, the volunteer pool shriveled, with volunteer numbers down 30 percent. Workers and the volunteers that stuck around had a lot of anxiety. Paulson knew things had to adapt quickly.

So the mission began practicing social distancing and expanded shelter space. The dining hall turned into a dormitory. All meals were to-go. The same volume of people were served, just differently.

Paulson worked on getting more volunteers – calling everyone he knew and posting on social media. An old PLU friend connected him to the president at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma and they agreed to partner. Nearly 60 men were sleeping in the school gym every night.

Paulson credits his strong team, the people he has around him, and community support for leadership success.

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After she shifted to working remotely, Kari Plog ’11 constructed blanket forts to create a makeshift recording studio in her home.

The digital content manager at KNKX, a local NPR affiliate radio station, Plog produced radio segments and podcasts for her station from inside the sound-muffling barrier.

Even though she and her team were largely working from home and practicing social distancing, they also had to venture into the field. Plog said the COVID-19 story has been a challenging one to cover, because it changes so quickly. It can also be heart-wrenching, like when she interviewed the daughter of a retired nurse who died of COVID-19.

However, doing her part and sharing news that is important to the community is rewarding.

“Being in the thick of it is stressful,” she said. “But it also provides an incredible sense of purpose.”

PLU students in the Welcome center wearing protective masks
Caring through COVID 1024 504 Zach Powers '10

Caring through COVID

Roughly eight months ago the first case of Novel Coronavirus in the United States was confirmed 60 miles north of the PLU campus. University officials had already been tracking the virus, and, after it arrived stateside, PLU was one of the first higher education institutions in the country to activate its incident command center.

At that point it was apparent that the virus would have an immediate and profound effect on the living and working experience of every student, staff member, and faculty member. Questions poured in by the dozen from every corner of campus. Will classes be cancelled? Are there still going to be athletic and performing arts events? How will the university keep students studying abroad safe?

Co-led by Vice President for Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis and Clinical Director of Counseling, Health and Wellness Services Elizabeth Hopper, incident command sprang into action, utilizing existing emergency management policies when applicable, and writing new ones unique to challenges posed by the emerging pandemic.

“Some of the organizational schema was really helpful, but in some ways it wasn’t specialized enough for response to this particular emergency,” says Royce-Davis. “For example, our emergency protocol does not have a cleaning committee, but a cleaning committee was absolutely necessary for response to this.”

A cleaning committee was just the start of what quickly became an all-hands-on-deck effort. Incident command began meeting daily, often twice daily, and added staff members to represent additional offices and departments.

Command leadership quickly established that decisions would be informed by the best information available from a standard set of references anchored by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local agencies like the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

For about a month, incident command monitored the situation across the state, kept in daily contact with the county health department, and oversaw preventative measures like frequent high-touch surface cleaning and installing hand sanitizer stations throughout campus.

“Especially because Washington was the initial national epicenter, early on we were spending a lot of time analyzing the evolving research and information to determine how it might affect us on campus in the days ahead,” remembers Hopper. “In those early weeks it was a bit of a waiting game, but we pretty quickly got to the point of needing to lock down parts of campus, and much of our work became figuring out the best approaches to doing that.”

“It was important that we were calm, together and thinking critically and clearly about what we could really know and being clear about the decision-making process, and how decisions would impact students, faculty and staff,” remembers PLU President Allan Belton.

“There were probably 90 straight days last spring where a group of us were digging deep into the information and working toward making tough decisions.”


By early March, it became evident that in-person learning simply could not be done safely. “We just weren’t going to take any chances with people’s health and safety,” says Belton. “By that point, though it was a disappointing decision, it was not a difficult decision. It was just what needed to be done.”

The announcement that all regular classes would transition to distance learning was shared with the campus community via email on March 7. Students and faculty turned on a dime from in-person to largely online-based learning. Again, the questions poured in, this time from students to their professors. How will I complete my biology lab experiment? Will we still be presenting our capstone projects? Should I continue in my student-teaching role at a local elementary school?

Faculty members poured themselves into the work of supporting students and supporting each other. Led by the more than 75 professors who had been trained through the university’s PLUTO (PLU Teaching Online) institute, faculty members who were steeped in online teaching provided counsel to their peers.

“I appreciate how my colleagues have all come together to support each other during these times,” said Professor of Hispanic Studies Bridget Yaden in late March. “We’ve had department meetings via Zoom where we’ve been open and honest about the challenges, where we’ve shared teaching ideas, and where we’ve just been there to listen to each other.”


Donors have donated $283,662 and counting to the PLU Student Emergency Fund. These funds are being used to support students experiencing unexpected financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This effort is still ongoing and we'd love your help.

“Even for those of us comfortable with technology, the transition to a distance learning approach has been challenging, especially given the quick timeline for the change,” Yaden continued. “I encourage my colleagues to think of what works best for your teaching style and your students’ learning, and see how that can be adapted to distance learning.”

“In these most unprecedented and uncertain of times, our faculty are stepping up,” Provost Joanna Gregson shared via Facebook video on April 21. “They’re advocating for students, they’re extending deadlines, they’re moving assignments around to acknowledge the space students are in, and above all, they are teaching well. They are stepping up, because above all they value excellence in teaching.”


In short order, upcoming concerts, athletic competitions, guest lectures and on-campus gatherings were cancelled.

The vast majority of PLU’s residential students opted to move off campus to complete the semester. Around 250 remained who felt that PLU was the safest place for them to complete the semester. Residence halls, dining services, the campus health center, and other essential student services remained open to meet the needs of the residential community.

“Our priority was ensuring that we would do our best by those students and to keep them safe and well,” says Royce-Davis. “We spent a lot of time thinking through how to safely provide meals and how to continue to safely provide some elements of community in the residence halls, even as that became more restrictive. We were also concerned about access to library resources and technology, and mental health resources.”


By the end of March, the Student Care Network, a coalition of staff and students led by University Pastor Jen Rude and former Assistant Dean of Students Matt Nelson, launched a number of online initiatives to help keep students on and off campus connected. Among the efforts was “CheckFive,” a campaign that encouraged Lutes to reach out to five people and check in, specifically those who had seemed to go quiet during the pivot to distance learning

“CheckFive is about connecting and starting a conversation with a peer you miss seeing around campus,” said Lace Smith, associate vice president for Marketing and Communications. “Human interaction has never been more important — and someone out there might really need that phone call, text, email or social media message.”

“It was important that we were calm, together and thinking critically and clearly about what we could really know and being clear about the decision-making process, and how decisions would impact students, faculty and staff.”

For many, a major disappointment of the COVID spring was the inability to celebrate high school and college graduating classes at traditional spring commencement ceremonies. At PLU, students voted overwhelmingly in favor of postponing the in-person commencement ceremony to a later date over holding a virtual ceremony on the originally planned spring date.

To celebrate and support PLU’s Class of 2020, staff again had to innovate. Marketing and Communications created a suite of social digital tools, videos and resources graduates and their families could use to celebrate on social media. Alumni and Student Connections hosted an extensive series of online events to support graduates beginning their job searches. And on the day that commencement would have been held, 160 staff and faculty members called more than 800 undergraduate and graduate students with messages of congratulations and encouragement.


As soon as spring semester ended, staff and faculty began preparing for the fall. The incident command team that led the university through the spring gave way to an executive-staffed recovery planning team and working groups dedicated to academic affairs, student life, and administrative services.

“Our plan, based on modeling and indications from public-health agencies, is that we will return to in-person learning for the fall term with the appropriate and necessary health and safety measures in place,” Belton wrote to the campus community in late April.

“Of course, a successful return to campus life and the ability to maintain in-person learning remains highly dependent on the availability of testing and contact tracing, and on our ability to adapt in real time to potential increases in new cases or new public-health directives,” he continued in the same email.

By mid-June, the recovery planning team distributed “Return to Work” and “Return to Learning” guidebooks to students, staff and faculty members detailing the university’s plans for the fall. A week later, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation permitting universities in Washington that adhere to an extensive list of mitigating requirements to return to in-person instruction in August.

Throughout June and July, staff and faculty finalized protocols and procedures to ensure that when students return to classrooms, library, residence halls and dining facilities, not only are they as safe as possible, but that they enjoy a living and learning experience that meets the university’s high standards.

“We’re not leaving any possible scenarios undiscussed,” says Chief Operating Officer Teri Phillips. “There is a large contingent of staff from all over campus for whom planning for COVID recovery and management has been our top priority this summer.”

Among the measures being taken are the reimagining and reconfiguring of teaching spaces to decrease student density, creating innovative dining service plans to avoid crowding campus restaurants, temporarily loosening restrictions that first- and second-year students whose permanent residence is beyond 25 miles of campus must live on campus, and ensuring that fewer residential students are sharing living space with a roommate.

Come fall, the university will outfit every member of the campus community with quality face coverings, provide no-cost COVID-19 testing for students, set aside reserved residence hall rooms for possible self-isolation, and be set to work with the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department on contact tracing for potential positive tests.


In August, PLU announced plans to offer an additional tuition-free year to all undergraduate students enrolled full time for the 20-21 academic year. Dubbed a supplemental “PLUS Year” by the university, the two additional semesters will be offered to students directly after their currently scheduled degree completion date. Graduate students will be offered opportunities for tuition-free continuing education courses. The announcement was praised for its innovation and covered by local, regional and national news outlets.

“With each new day PLU staff and faculty members spend planning for fall semester, the different likely scenarios become slightly more clear to us,” Belton wrote in a June editorial in The News Tribune. “It’s no exaggeration to say that a reopening of campus will be the result of one of the most comprehensive plans ever created and executed in our institution’s 130-year history. Through it all, we will be guided by an unwavering commitment to well-being and safety.

“No matter the challenge — whether learning from a distance, learning while wearing face coverings, or living, learning, and working as alumni in our community — we remain true to an important aspect of our mission: to thoughtfully care for other people, our community and the Earth.”

Note to readers: the contents of this feature were finalized in July. It is possible that plans for Fall Semester have changed since this issue was sent to design and press.

The Meaning of Mentorship 150 150 Zach Powers '10

The Meaning of Mentorship

Troy J.H. Andrade ’07

Be a guide, don't decide

“Mentorship means listening with your mind and heart, serving as a non-judgmental sounding board, and providing honest feedback. A mentor never forces a mentee to change, but rather guides them to the best version of themselves. Above all, mentorship means providing opportunities and access to those most marginalized to ensure that they can continue to be successful and give back to our community. I now have the privilege to mentor students and young legal professionals. I tell these amazing people the lessons I have learned as I help guide them on their own journeys of life. For me, being a mentor is, by far, one of the most rewarding things I have experienced.”

Troy J.H. Andrade ’07
Assistant Professor of Law at University of Hawaii,
PLU Regent

Tamara R. Williams

Selflessness is spectacular

“Ultimately, mentoring is a form of communication that allows an individual’s unique understanding of life’s meaning and purpose to show up, be celebrated, and encouraged to grow.”

Tamara R. Williams
Professor of Hispanic Studies and Executive Director of the Wang Center

Ann Auman

Nonjudgmental sounding boards

“Mentorship means caring about the whole person and engaging in meaningful conversation by asking probing questions that help guide one to find their own answers, listening as a sounding board along the way. Mentorship is supportive and nonjudgmental in the best of times, the worst, and everything in between. Mentorship is long-lasting and is built upon a foundation of mutual respect and trust.”

Ann Auman
Professor of Biology and Dean of Natural Sciences

Melannie Denise Cunningham

Sharing time and talent

“Mentorship means investing my time, resources and unique talents to help people develop to their highest good.”

Melannie Denise Cunningham
Director of Multicultural Outreach and Engagement

Mark Gould ’91

Objective viewpoints

“It can be tempting to rely on our closest friends and colleagues for advice, because they are usually sympathetic and supportive. But my best mentors and advisors are all outside of my organization. I find it really helpful to have objective views that are not colored by office dynamics.”

Mark Gould ’91
First Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco,
PLU Regent

Advice Worth Sharing 150 150 Zach Powers '10

Advice Worth Sharing

Joyce Barr ’76, ’08

Be my best

“I have and continue to receive wonderful advice from mentors! One example: to make sure I did the job assigned to me to the best of my ability, especially when things like inter-office politics, personality conflicts or other circumstances made the work very challenging. Good leaders pay attention to subordinates who prevail through turbulent times.”

Joyce Barr ’76, ’08
Retired Foreign Service Officer and Professor of Practice in Government & International Affairs, Virginia Tech,
PLU Regent

Eva Frey

Find the right people

“So often in education or really, any human service, we chase people to attend meetings or workshops that we think will benefit them. And, when only a few or a handful show up, we see it as a failure. My mentor helped me reframe that whoever shows up is the right person for my personal and professional life. Not everyone can make everything on my timeline. And, that doesn’t mean you stop inviting people. It means you acknowledge that life is unique and complex for everyone; and you honor that for yourself and your family/friends.”

Eva Frey
Dean of Students

David Ward

Surround yourself with wisdom

“Don’t work or make decisions in isolation.”

David Ward
Professor and Program Director of Marriage and Family Therapy

Joanna Gregson

Your time is priceless

“When I assumed the role of provost, Steve Starkovich, who had served as provost for seven years prior, offered advice that I think about almost every day. As Steve explained, the job of provost entails endless decision making, often for situations with no precedent. His advice acknowledged how much we want to say yes to requests to support our valued colleagues. With that in mind, he advised that ‘Before you say yes, identify the conditions under which you’d say no’. I think of this advice not only for handling individual requests that come my way as provost, but also in my personal life. If I say yes to a request for a commitment of my time, under what conditions would I say no?”

Joanna Gregson
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs

Dan Voepel '81

Believe in yourself

“‘Never sell yourself short.’ I heard this from Cliff Rowe, a PLU journalism professor and adviser. Back in the early 1980s, when the newspaper business was still going gangbusters, the standard path for journalism graduates was to find a job at a podunk weekly newspaper to get some experience, move up after a while to a small daily newspaper, then a medium-sized daily and then a large daily. Of course, all of this meant moving around the state or the country chasing the next job to move up. I didn’t want to do that, and Cliff had so much faith in me, and convinced me of my abilities, that he advised me to go after the large daily right out of college. I got hired by The News Tribune.”

Dan Voelpel ’81
Executive Director of Communications at Tacoma Public Schools

Salvador Mungia '81

Cross new thresholds

“‘When a door opens, go through it.’ I’ve always taken that advice. Seriously, you never know where it’s going to lead. My secretary always tells me ‘You don’t know when to say no.’ And it really is because of that advice I received many years ago.”

Salvador Mungia ’81
Attorney, Gordon Thomas Honeywell,
PLU Alumni Board President

Darren Hamby ’87, MBA ’92

Be fearless

“Trust my instincts, and don’t be afraid to take a few chances.”

Darren Hamby ’87, MBA ’92
Vice President, Total Rewards, BECU,
PLU Regent

Scott Squires ’88

Listen to yourself

“To be me. To uphold my own personal values, take to heart what my gut is telling me, and fail forward.”

Scott Squires ’88
Owner, Squires Development & Real Estate, Inc.,
PLU Regent

Wendelyn Shore
Mentorship Maven 1024 504 Zach Powers '10

Mentorship Maven

Professor of Psychology Wendelyn Shore is passionate about mentorship — not just mentoring and being mentored but also the scholarly pursuit of deconstructing and analyzing the ethics of mentorships.

“There’s always a power differential in a mentoring relationship,” she says. “It’s always the mentor’s responsibility to be sensitive to that and to handle that in an ethical way.”

Shore’s interest in mentorship began with her involvement in developing PLU’s Wild Hope Project and continued when she and PLU psychology colleagues co-wrote multiple papers on the ethics of mentoring undergraduate students. In addition to teaching and scholarly pursuits (her primary research focus is on issues of language and knowledge), she recently co-founded Professional Mentoring Associates with PLU Dean of Students Eva Frey. Through this new venture, she will work with mentees to engage in meaningful self-reflection that allows them to set appropriate goals and then determine and implement strategies for achieving those goals. I recently sat down with her at 208 Garfield.

Have you found that most folks share a similar understanding of what “mentorship” means?

I think that’s right. At some level, everyone knows what mentoring is and what the traditional relationship should look like. A traditional older mentor, younger protege. A very intimate one-on-one relationship. The mentor takes the protege under their wing for learning a particular skill or ability or to provide general guidance and wisdom.

There’s a caring, thoughtfulness, and deep listening required by the mentor that happens in a true mentorship.

Now, I think very few of us in our everyday lives — personal life or professional — actually have achieved that type of mentoring relationship with someone. I think we have lots of approximations to that. Plus, to be honest, I’m not even sure that we should aim for it because there are lots of ethical questions that arise around that ideal.

That’s interesting. Like what?

Well, questions about dependency and appropriate boundaries, or power differential. It’s great to have a mentor, a teacher, a wise other who’s looking out for you, but if that person then starts interfering with aspects of your life or trying to direct aspects of your life, questions should arise about ethics. My work on mentoring started with issues that a mentor has a responsibility to attend to, in terms of the ethics of the ongoing relationship with the mentee. That’s why mentors need training.

Can that training be as a mentee of a great mentor?

It can be. But I also think there’s explicit information that should be conveyed, especially around, again, issues of ethics. I think you explicitly need to say to the 55-year-old white male, “You’re about to start mentoring a 23-year-old black woman. You can’t pretend that the difference in race doesn’t matter, you can’t pretend that the difference in sex doesn’t matter, and you can’t pretend that the difference in age doesn’t matter. To truly mentor this person, you need to be honest about those differences.”

I think that mentors need to hear that explicitly. I think most mentors aren’t necessarily aware that those kinds of demographic differences often create issues for the mentoring relationship around power differential and around boundaries.

Is it hard for institution-wide mentorship programs to work well?

I think what a lot of businesses do are very good professional advising programs. I would not call them mentoring in the traditional sense, but I’ll bet some of those relationships do develop into mentoring relationships. There’s a caring, thoughtfulness, and deep listening required by the mentor that happens in a true mentorship. A senior employee can meet with a junior employee for coffee and give professional advice about how to get promoted, but that’s not true mentoring. Because a mentor needs to learn what motivates you, what your goals are, what kind of work ethic you have, etc. The senior employee can still give great advice without learning those things about the junior employee, but that isn’t mentoring.

Mentoring relationships, whether in the role of mentor or mentee, can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling relationships we have. They can be relationships that give our lives meaning.

Is there an ideal lifespan to a mentorship?

I think the product of a mentoring interaction can be as short-lived as a single conversation that turns out to be incredibly meaningful and valuable, if not immediately, then down the road. I also think it can be the opposite extreme. It can be a lifelong relationship. My own mentoring relationships as both mentee and mentor certainly run the gamut of that. I’ve had really intense one-on-one conversations with students that afterward we both would have said, “Okay, that was a mentoring conversation.” Then I’ll never have a conversation like that with that student again. But I also have mentees who graduated some 15, 20, 30 years ago and I’m still in touch with them.

What sort of mental space are you in when you’re sitting down with a mentee and do you have particular rules for that time together?

From the mentor’s perspective, what I find myself reminding myself of, or mentally preparing, is this: For however long we’re going to talk — whether it’s a half-hour coffee, a two-hour lunch, or we’re together all afternoon — my mentee has my undivided attention. I make a conscious effort to make it clear to them “I am fully here for you and it’s not about what I have to say.”

That’s the other thing as the mentor, I’m going to absorb and listen. My mentee may not want advice about anything. I don’t know going into that particular meeting. It might just be about, “Hey, I need to talk to you because I just need to process this” and they just need to vent for an hour and a half.

In closing, what encouragement would you share with ResoLute readers who are interested in engaging more intentionally with a potential mentor or mentee in their life?

Mentoring relationships, whether in the role of mentor or mentee, can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling relationships we have. They can be relationships that give our lives meaning. They represent substantial effort and investment, especially when conducted ethically and thoughtfully. In my experience, they’re worth every bit. Go for it!