If Dana Young is selected for college president, she won’t change a thing in her first six months.
“The first six months, what I’d like to do is walk around and meet people, talk to them, learn about the different departments, and learn about what the needs on campus are,” Young said.
The first of three college presidential finalists recently traveled to Central Oregon Community College to meet faculty, students and the community. Dana Young spent Feb. 24 and 25 on the COCC Bend campus and branch campuses. This campus visit is one of the final processes for the three presidential finalists.
The current president of Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon, Young has spent the majority of her career working at colleges.
Young started as a secretary to the dean of Student Services at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon. While working her way through a Bachelor’s of Science in business economy and a master’s in business administration, Young continued to seek out college employment.
“During that same time I was working my way up and through the ranks, if you will,” Young said. “I came back in through the financial aid door, and I was a financial aid advisor. Then I was registrar, and then I took over recruitment, and retention, and athletics and all of the support services.”
Young ended up taking a job as vice president of student affairs at Northwest Community College in Wyoming. At the college, Young specialized in issues such as student childcare, housing and health services. While increasing her college expertise, Young decided to come back to her native state.
“Treasure Valley Community College had a presidency opening, and being from the Eastern Oregon region, I applied for the position, and was a successful candidate,” Young said. “I started there almost four years ago now, and have been the president there since.”
Young will be receiving a doctorate in community college leadership from Colorado State University in the next few months. Experience-wise, Young rates her strengths on several levels.
“I’ve dealt a lot with raising scholarships for students, working with donors, applying for grants and connecting with the community,” Young said. “Each finalist has different strengths, and I think these are mine.”
Her workforce knowledge has already given her potential presidency focuses for COCC. For one, Young thinks COCC’s branch campuses should be specialized.
“I have a lot of experience with branch campuses, so I really appreciate we have that,” Young said. “I think that each of them needs to have their unique set of programs. They’re the best people to tell us what they need.”
Young is also supportive of campus growth. For her, both working out a purchase with Oregon State University-Cascades for Cascades Hall and building COCC’s approved new residence hall are two ways to foster development.
With a background in residence halls through student affairs, Young believes developing housing attracts students.
“One of the major things that will contribute to keeping COCC’s growth is helpful housing,” Young said. “The new residence hall is important for me. I think that on campus, students are more engaged, and stay longer. Students vote with their feet.”
Other areas Young would work on if chosen as president would include improving parking, adding to student services like counseling and tutoring, and encouraging student employment. Young also encouraged a partnership with OSU-Cascades. She met with OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson during her visit to discuss future collaborations.
“I think that will be a good conversation for me to see where OSU is headed and what their thinking is,” Young said. “I think COCC will grow as a result of OSU being here. Hopefully there will be an agreement between us that we continue to offer courses that can tie into their degrees.”
Young also believes student childcare is important. At least 25 percent of community college students take classes while raising kids, and not having on-campus resources can discourage potential students, according to Young.
“Those costs can be upwards of $500 or $600 a month per child,” Young said. “There’s a childcare bill in the legislature right now [HB 4084] … and it gives us some hope that childcare is possible for students. Daycare can be cost-prohibitive. It can keep you from going to college.”
If selected, Young said she would look forward to working with the college.
“Central Oregon Community College is one of the best, if not the best community college in the state of Oregon, and this is the college to aspire to in my opinion,” Young said. “Great image, high level of faculty and staff. I think there’s all kind of potential for innovative growth, there’s energy here.”