Cascades hall is changing hands summer 2015, and COCC departments are already vying for its use.
How does a college fill an empty building?
The answer might seem simple – classrooms, labs, offices – but deciding on the largest need is not.
In two or three years, Oregon State University-Cascades will vacate Cascades Hall and Central Oregon Community College will move into Cascades Hall. COCC has already committed two million dollars to renovating and remodeling Cascades Hall, according to Matt McCoy, COCC’s vice president for administration.
But the question is, for what?
Ideas are plentiful. Across campus, there are departments that are crowded or are spread across several buildings, according to McCoy. For these departments, Cascades Hall could be a ticket to a better working environment.
“They’re almost sitting on top of each other”
Before Cascades announced plans to leave, COCC was looking at building a student success center from the ground up, according to Dr. Jim Middleton, COCC president. The idea was to move the Career Services, Academic Advising and Personal Counseling Center out of the basement of Barber Library and into its own building, possibly pairing it with the Testing and Tutoring Department.
But the student success center would have cost $15 million, $7 million of which COCC would take on, raising student tuition in the process. To avoid this, when it became clear that Cascades Hall was going to be empty in the near future, administration re-assessed their plan.
“It’s like getting a used versus a new car,” Middleton said. “The win is we get a building virtually the same size we were going to build.”
So the idea of a student success center was imprinted on Cascades Hall. A student success center is sorely needed, according to Alicia Moore, dean of Student and Enrollment Services.
When the CAP center opened nine years ago, it had three staff, according to Moore. Now, it has 11 staff and two mental health professionals contracted through St. Charles Medical Center.
“They’re almost sitting on top of each other,” Moore said. “There is simply no more room to expand in the library.”
There are a few flaws with the student success center idea, Moore admits. One is that the testing and tutoring departments already work well together in the library, according to Moore.
“We try to put departments like that together,” Moore said. “For instance, financial aid and enrollment services have a natural synergy in Boyle because students can get enrolled and then work on getting their financial aid.”
But Moore still believes that Cascades would be a prime location for the proposed student success center.
“Are there other locations available on campus? Sure,” Moore said. “But it isn’t easy to direct new students to Jefferson or wherever.”
Cascades Hall could help bring faculty together
Perhaps the best use for Cascades Hall is more office space for faculty. Right now, one of the main goals of the campus is to bring programs and faculty together in one building, McCoy said.
Having faculty close-knit “feeds the development of thought,” McCoy said. Seeing other faculty in the halls and being in a connected environment with them leads to exchange of ideas.
The college is currently considering a remodel of the Ochoco building with a price tag of $2 to $4 million or more, depending on the extensiveness.
This would bring the Humanities department, which is currently scattered through Modoc, Jefferson, Deschutes and Grandview offices, together in one building. But if Cascades Hall became that one building, it would solve the problem.
Make everyone happy?
It is possible Cascades Hall is big enough to accommodate all of these departments, according to Middleton. There are already offices, and classrooms could be turned into computer labs.
When the move-in date comes closer, the college will meet with an architect to decide what structural changes or remodeling needs to take place inside.
“We’re not going to do major changes on the outside,” Middleton said. “They’ll be within the bones of the building.”
With this induction of a new building onto campus, COCC is looking beyond just the present, according to Middleton. Growth at the moment may not make sense when the college’s enrollment is plateauing, but in thirty or forty years, they will need it.
The Central Oregon region is expected to experience huge growth, according to Middleton, and COCC has to be ready. The college’s “feeder community,” people in Bend who would go to COCC, will increase.
“[It’s] not what do we need two years from now, but what do we need 30 to 40 years from now?” Middleton said.
Will Cascades campus’ departure answer our parking pressure prayers?
Probably not, COCC President Dr. Jim Middleton says. OSU-Cascades juniors and seniors will be leaving COCC campus, but at least while the 2+2 program — which allows OSU-Cascades freshmen and sophomores to enroll at Cascades while finishing general education at COCC — is still in effect, many Cascades students will still be taking up parking spaces at COCC.
“Certainly it will free up some parking, but dually enrolled students in the pipeline to OSU will still be coming to COCC,” Middleton said.
Scott Greenstone | The Broadside