Oregon State University- Cascades plans to operate separately from Central Oregon Community College by 2015. The move changes a ten year relationship between the satellite university and the college.
OSU-Cascades leases a building on COCC’s Bend campus, a model which Vice President of OSU-Cascades Rebecca Johnson said allows “a limited amount of room for growth.”
Since 2002, OSU-Cascades has offered upper division coursework . Students with their first two years completed, either from COCC or other institutions, can transfer to OSU-Cascades. The university will still accept transfer students but will also offer four year programs to Bend campus students as well.
The change has been a long process, according to COCC President Jim Middleton.
“It’s been a decade or two long push… to see that Central Oregon has a university,” he said.
Middleton said he does not foresee COCC suffering from the separation. The two entities are working out the details of partnerships in some areas.
How it impacts COCC
OSU-Cascades and COCC have different target students, according to Middleton. OSU-Cascades will attract students from out of state who would not have attended COCC otherwise but may take some courses there to accommodate their schedule and degree requirements. Middleton believes the out of state students that COCC may gain will compensate for any local students they lose to the university.
“It would not be accurate to assume we wouldn’t lose a single student to the university,” said Middleton. “However, I think it is possible we could gain as many as we lose.”
Though they may lose some, Middleton believes that COCC will still be the predominant pathway for local students, at least when they start out.
“There will still be a lot of students who start here and transfer,” he said.
Many high school graduates aren’t yet ready to attend a university because they don’t meet the requirements so for them COCC will still be the first step in their college career said Middleton. The introduction of OSU-Cascades will make Bend more like other college towns which often have both a university and a community college which work in some kind of partnership he said.
“When you look at other state universities, most have very healthy community colleges in their backyard,” Middleton said.
The current OSU-Cascades building —Cascades Hall—may become a site for general education. COCC is on the state list to receive a new education building which would be paid for by $5.7 million in state funds, which COCC would match. The space requested was roughly the same square footage as the OSU-Cascades building so Middleton has requested to use state funds to pay off the remaining $5.5 million on Cascades Hall, which would save money and release OSU Cascades from their lease.
“That approach is sort of a triple winner,” he said. “It saves COCC money, state money and releases Oregon State from their obligation.”
The future of OSU Cascades and COCC partnership
Though they may no longer be sharing a campus by 2015, OSU-Cascades and COCC will continue to work together.
“We want to continue to see what aspects of partnership still makes financial, operational and student sense,” said Middleton.
When the new OSU-Cascades campus is built, the focus is going to be on classrooms and student centers, according to Johnson, so there will still be COCC resources that they’ll need to utilize. OSU-Cascades will still pay for the use of the Barber Library, Mazama Gym and possibly some of the science labs, according to Johnson. In addition, Johnson foresees the hiring of COCC faculty to teach some OSU classes, which she believes would be beneficial for students who may be familiar with the professors from COCC.
“And of course we would expect tons of students still wanting to do the two plus two,” said Johnson, referring to students who would take their core curriculum courses at COCC and then finish their degree by transferring to OSU-Cascades.
Because some students will continue to be dually enrolled and many will need access both facilities, a shuttle system between the two campuses is already being discussed according to Middleton.
COCC and OSU-Cascades may also work together to create an applied Bachelor degree for students. Designed to serve students who have done community college, it would allow students to use any career programs they might complete as “starting blocks” for their degree, according to Middleton.
Overall, Middleton said he thinks that the evolving of OSU-Cascades into a four-year university will have a positive impact on students and both colleges.
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