Bruin Notes

Nationally Recognized Christian Artist to Mentor Music Students

Aaron Strumpel

Students will have something to raise their voices about this year when renowned songwriter, artist missionary and worship leader Aaron Strumpel joins the George Fox community as artist practitioner in residence.

Strumpel, whose tenure at the university is being hosted by the school’s Center for Peace and Justice, will spend much of his time mentoring student music ensembles, including the chapel band and Shalom worship team.

Born and raised in southeast Iowa and a graduate of Wartburg College, Strumpel began his music career performing with The Restoration Project before launching his solo career in 2006. He has since gone on to release seven full-length albums and four EP’s. His most recent albums, Elephants (2009) and Birds (2011), earned high praise from Christianity Today, Paste Magazine and Relevant Magazine.

Visit to view a live studio performance.

John Schmitt

University Receives Grant to Continue Cancer Research

In 2010, a sizeable research grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust gave biology professor John Schmitt and a group of George Fox undergraduate students the opportunity to join the fight against cancer. Now, two years later, they’re getting the chance to continue what they started.

In March, Schmitt received approval for a second Murdock grant – this time in the amount of $37,500 – to fund the research project “Vitamin D Regulation in Breast Cancer Cells.” Including an additional contribution from the university, Schmitt and his students will receive a total of $47,500 in funding – enough to continue the project for two more years.

According to Schmitt, the initial grant has enabled the identification of a novel cell and molecular pathway that contributes to breast cancer cell growth. He and his students also published a manuscript implicating several enzymes involved in prostate cancer progression.

“This is a tremendous honor,” says Schmitt, adding that the ultimate goal is to “gain a better understanding of the biological events that participate in cancer cell behavior and how we might prevent or stop the disease.”

Celebrated Performer Returns for Concert

Richard Zeller

Opera aficionados around campus got a big treat in April when alumnus Richard Zeller (G83), one of America’s foremost baritones, joined music professor and fellow alumnus Kenn Willson on-stage at Bauman Auditorium as part of the university’s Bösendorfer Concert Series.

Zeller’s impressive resume includes 12 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera House and engagements at opera houses around the world. Zeller's performance was followed by Willson on the university’s Bösendorfer Imperial Grand Piano, often called the “Rolls Royce of Pianos.”

The concert, sponsored by George Fox’s performing arts department, has brought in several world-renowned musicians since its inception in 2007.

Inspired to Serve

When Roby’s Furniture and Appliances owners George and Cindy Lewis were considering different ways to give back to the local community, they didn’t have to look far for inspiration. After all, both of their children, Ryan Lewis (G01) and Andrea (Lewis) Langeliers (G02), are George Fox graduates.

“We were talking about things we could do as a company, and they both mentioned that George Fox does a serve day,” explains Cindy Lewis. “So we thought we would try it this year.”

George and Cindy Lewis

As a result of that conversation, on Feb. 8 each of the five Roby’s stores (Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Newport and Florence) closed their doors and spent the day serving a local foster family. Projects ranged from yard work and painting to constructing a new interior wall in one house to create a nursery.

“It was a really good day,” says Lewis. “The families just acted like we blessed them to bits.”

In addition to a boost in employee morale, Lewis also noted that the company’s sales in February were the highest in years, despite the loss of a full day of business. Plans are in the works for another Roby’s serve day in February 2013.

Dirt and the Good Life

McMinns Pen Book Inspired by Life on the Farm

Back in 2006, when Mark and Lisa McMinn were professors at Wheaton College, they decided to return to their home state of Oregon, take positions at George Fox and start a farm in Newberg.

Today, that five-acre plot of land – and the stories and produce that grew out of it – have become the inspiration for a book of essays titled Dirt and the Good Life: Stories from Fern Creek.


Mark, a psychology professor, and Lisa, a sociology professor who retired from George Fox last spring, published the book in April through Barclay Press. While both are accomplished academic writers, this book stretched them beyond their comfort zones.

“Dirt and the Good Life is different . . .” Mark told the Newberg Graphic. “Each of the stories points to some deeper meaning . . . We hope all of the essays point toward gratitude, contentment and the simple goodness we find in growing things from the earth.”

Visit to learn more about the McMinns’ book.

Staples Named Volunteer of the Year

Don Staples

Bruin basketball fans may not recognize the face of the university’s 2012 Volunteer of the Year, but they certainly know his voice.

Since the 1999-2000 season, Don Staples (G86) has been the volunteer public address announcer for George Fox women’s basketball home games. In 12 full seasons, with an average workload of 12 to 16 games per year, he has called more than 200 games for the Bruins, ranging from alumni contests to NCAA postseason tournaments. That amounts to more than 400 unpaid hours.

Staples’ volunteer work with the Bruins actually began earlier, in 1996, when he began filling in as a backup PA announcer. His broadcasting career started when he was spotted sitting at the top of the Miller Gymnasium bleachers talking into a microphone connected to his recorder. He was given a vacant seat at the media/officials table courtside and later moved down a few seats to work in an official capacity.

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