Redmond COCC forms “nuclear campus”


Redmond campus environment is unorthodox, uncommon and full of people determined to make it flourish


Dennis Simenson likes people who don’t fit. Simenson, a manufacturing instructor in Redmond, suffers from dyslexia and never felt that he fit in school. That’s why he loves Redmond campus.

“That’s like many of our students here,” Simenson said. “They don’t fit into what society would deem as a normal life.”

Lisa Routhier calls these students “the underdogs.” As student government’s branch campus coordinator, Routhier travels to the branch campuses weekly, advocating for branch campus students’ needs.

“They can’t always drive to Bend to share their voice,” Routhier said. “What I try to do is bring their voice to the main cam between” for the branch campuses. Routhier has made it her mission to not let the isolation of the Redmond students affect their representation at the Bend campus.

“Each campus has its own different vibe,” said Lisa Routhier, branch campus coordinator with student government. “Sometimes getting participation can be hard unless you figure out what students on the branch campuses want.”

But Routhier is not alone: There are many dedicated faculty and students helping out. Simenson is one of those.

Simenson has worked at COCC for over 15 years and calls himself a “student and college advocate.” He believes what makes COCC unique is that it helps students succeed without “spoon feeding them information,” but teaching them to ask questions and look for answers.

Simenson tries to keep an open door and open ear for his students.

“If it’s impeding your ability to get your education I want to know,” Simenson said. “Death, divorce, cancer, money; all those things happen, but there are people there to support students to get their education.”

Simenson is often at the college beyond his scheduled office hours and calls the manufacturing program a “we-operation, not an I-operation.”

Growth on the branch campuses often happens in spurts and helps the college recognize what their needs are, according to Simenson.

“It has been a wonderful community college so far,” Simenson said. “As we expand we need to keep the community in community college.”

Molly Svendsen | The Broadside


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