Linfield College wouldn’t be the well-recognized institution it is without the people who work hard every day to better its programs and students.
Among these supporters is recent Edith Green Distinguished Professor Award- winner Deborah Olsen.
The Edith Green Distinguished Professor Award is given to one outstanding professor every year since its founding in 1980.
Since being at the college in 1992, Olsen has held many positions necessary to the well-being of Linfield, including former history professor, competitive scholarship adviser, and previous director of academic advising.
Olsen is also known and praised for her role as supervisor of the Linfield Colloquium program, which helps assimilate freshmen into the college lifestyle, while at the same time making friends and learning about the plethora of opportunities available to Linfield students.
“Once I took the academic advising role, I realized Colloquium needed to be organized and streamlined,” Olsen said.
Olsen did just that by writing a recommended syllabus, doubling the salary of advisers, and condensing the program.
“I really wanted to strengthen the role of the advisers. I listened to them more to find out what was working. I then created an evaluation and revision committee to help Colloquium grow,” Olsen said.
“Deborah Olsen was an incredible individual to work with. She helped design Colloquium, in an effort to help with freshmen retention and transition from high school to college. It gives them a sense of belonging and makes Linfield home. She organized Colloquium from the very beginning and it has now transitioned into the great program it is today,” Liz Atkinson said.
Atkinson is a chemistry professor, as well as a Colloquium adviser who has previously worked with Olsen.
As a competitive scholarship adviser, Olsen helped many Linfield students apply and win the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.
“I helped students with scholarships by just setting deadlines and helping them realize it was going to take at least 20 rough drafts. I also loved to brainstorm ideas. It was my favorite part,” Olsen said.
“She took on a 10-person job alone with the Fulbright Scholarship,” Atkinson said.
Even though Olsen is no longer a competitive scholarship adviser, she has established a scholarship to help the students of Linfield even in her absence. The Deborah M. Olsen Public Service Internship provides students with the opportunity to expand their education to practical use in the real world. By learning outside the classroom, students are preparing themselves for their future competitive field of choice.
“I was totally surprised to win the Edith Green Award. It is important to me that my academic work was recognized even without a 10-year track,” Olsen said.
“Linfield is a very special place in my heart. I have very mixed feeling about retiring. [I’ve] loved it all,” Olsen said.