“It’s kind of like a dream.”
That’s how Central Oregon Community College President, Dr. Shirley Metcalf, describes her new position and title.
When Metcalf began teaching at the age of 23 she didn’t know she would one day make history by becoming the first female, minority president of COCC.
Metcalf fell in love with Central Oregon over 30 years ago, when, after getting married, she and her husband traveled to Mt. Bachelor for a honeymoon retreat. All it took was to slip on her first pair of skis and take in the scenery of the slopes to keep Metcalf coming back for more.
“At the time, Mt. Bachelor was open in June and July so me and my husband would come back almost every year,” said Metcalf. “We would stay at the Inn of the Seventh Mountain, ski in the mornings, and in the afternoons, we would walk in town.”
All those years of skiing paid off for Metcalf when she won the trophy for ‘most improved woman skier’ during one of their trips a trophy she displays proudly in her office. Eventually, in 2009, she and her husband made the decision to buy a home in Central Oregon and began planning for retirement.
“By then, I had already been Vice President at Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland Washington for a number of years, so we planned to come here and retire,” said Metcalf. “But then, right as I was about to do it, I applied for a job [at COCC] and I got it.”
Although Metcalf planned for retirement, she didn’t know her decision to apply for a new career would set her on a path that would trailblaze the way for others to follow and make history in the town she fell in love with.
“When the Vice President left in 2013 I became interim Vice President and did that for about six months. Then I was asked to become Interim President [after James Middleton] a job that should have lasted about a year, but then one search didn’t end well and i stayed longer and when this second one didn’t end well either I became the official permanent President.”
Being a woman, and of japanese-chinese heritage, Metcalf has set a precedent for not only COCC but the city of Bend and Central Oregon since COCC’s previous president have all been anglo-saxon males.
Her new role at COCC is a tool she wants to use to become a role model and encourage minorities to seek higher education and plans to stay in that role “as long as [she] can still make a difference for students and my community.”
As the new President, Metcalf and the rest of the board are focusing on goals to engage the Central Oregon community with COCC, continue to foster collaborative communications, and continue to align college planning team, strategic plan, and accreditation.
Metcalfs more personal goals, some, that she has already begun working on are to continue the development of the Redmond, Madras, and Prineville campuses, and continue to develop a positive relationship with OSU-cascades.
in November, Metcalf was named by the University of Hawaii Community College System as the winner of one of their ‘50 finest’ award, this award recognises 50 individuals who have significantly contributed to the growth and innovation of the community college in the state of Hawaii. And at the 50th anniversary celebration for COCC, Metcalf and the board of directors for the college will unveil the change of name of the Campus Center to the Coats Center, renamed after R.L. and Joyce Coats who in 1962 donated 140 acres of land to the college.
As for Metcalf, she expressed that becoming president is her last career initiative.
“I have been involved in higher education for over 43 years, and will retire after here [COCC] but I will stay on board for as long as I can help and I can make a difference,” Metcalf said. “ I love this college, which is why I took the new position and will stay as long as I’m needed.”
Brayan Gonzalez | The Broadside