Ron Bryant has walked with COCC for nearly 60 years
When Ron Bryant went to Central Oregon College in 1955, there were no buildings. COC — changed to Central Oregon Community College in 1966 — was five years old and existed at Bend High. Bryant was a transfer from Washington, and he had no idea he was about to begin a lifelong relationship with the school.
“Junior colleges” were new in the 1950s, and had only been around for a few years, according to Bryant. But the small size of the school didn’t stop “Ronnie” from getting involved: Fall term found him Editor-in-Chief of The Broadside, which at the time was only two years old and called The Nitehawk.
“As we moved through the year, we moved to change the name to The Broadside,” Bryant said. “The group we had was fun.”
Once a month, the team of “no more than half a dozen” aspiring journalists would type up stories in columns and have a “pasting day” where they physically put the paper together.
Bryant learned about creating incentive in people at The Broadside. Since it was a volunteer process, Bryant had “be tolerant” of people who didn’t do their work because they didn’t have to be there.
The paper was much different from today’s as well: In Bryant’s time, it was about information, about what was happening — which was mostly socials.
Today’s Broadside is very different, according to Bryant.
“Today, it forms basically the same function, but there’s a lot more articles geared toward society,” Bryant said. “We didn’t have a lot of controversial items.”
Bryant, a journalism major at the time, switched to law later on in his life.
“I don’t know that any of them went on to do journalism, but we were all really just playing at being newspapermen,” Bryant said. “We took it very seriously.”
But Bryant was “idealistic” — he found it would be hard to support a family on a journalist’s wages. So, after getting his Associate of Arts, Bryant got married and later became a lawyer. In 1972 he ran for election to the Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors and won. He also served as chairman from 1974-75. After six years ended, the college asked Bryant to become their legal counsel, a partnership that’s stayed intact for over 35 years.
“I either went to school with or served under every COCC president,” Bryant said. “I’ve known all of them.”
Bryant has watched the college grow from 300 students to nearly 10 thousand spread over four campuses in two counties.
“It’s been an amazing, wonderful time being involved with the college and watching it grow,” Bryant said.
But now, with everything so much bigger, life and work at the school is much different.
“The college is very complicated with lots of issues,” Bryant said. “It’s changing all the time.”
Bryant has been working with COCC more than normal lately with legal issues relating to Dr. Patrick Lanning’s removal from the presidential candidate pool. He has been advising COCC’s actions throughout the process.
In addition to academics and work, Bryant has invested in COCC in legacy: All his children and two of his grandchildren have gone to COCC.
“They all have fond memories at COCC,” Bryant said.
Scott Greenstone | The Broadside