Campus concerns voiced

The Southwestern Oregon Community College Board of Directors will soon schedule a work session to review concerns raised by community members regarding operations of the Curry County SWOCC campus.

During a regular board meeting held at the Brookings campus July 15, board chair David Bridgham, along with the six board members, listen intently as several community members outlined their concerns, with some offering solutions.

Those concerns ranged from declining enrollment, the college’s operating costs, and how tax money supporting the college is being spent, to Curry County’s representation on the college board.

“I sensed there is a need, and we are responding, to have a connection from the Curry residents to the campus here,” Bridgham said. “They also want more vocational courses.”

During the meeting, SWOCC Curry County Campus Executive Dean Douglas Bunn outlined the success of the school’s operations and its students, as well as the future direction of the campus.

Bunn said he is planning additional efforts to attract more students to the Curry campus through social media and traditional advertising sources.

He outlined more outreach efforts to support and promote the Curry RN program, utilize broadcast technology, expand partnership programs, promote university partnership and community education programs, and expand the advisory council.

Bunn told The Pilot before the meeting that the focus is on increasing certified nursing courses. “It is one of the needs in our community,” he said.

“We need public safety, teachers and healthcare providers. So it makes sense to build around the nursing. These courses will help the college and the community.”

Bunn added that the college’s vision for its Curry campus is strong. “The pathway to our goals is bright,” he said.

“We are going to be serving more students and we are going to use technology to expand the services. We are doing all things to try to connect to our students in the most-efficient ways. That’s the key.”

As the board took public testimony during Monday’s meeting, first to speak was Curry County Commissioner Sue Gold, who said she hoped efforts would be made to encourage more people to apply to be a board member representing Curry County.

“I am also concerned about the classes being dropped at the Curry campus,” she said. “I hope more people will sign up.”

Gold suggested some solutions to the board, including a review of lowering the tax rate, offering additional courses to seniors, and developing business and medical internships to attract more students.

Curry County Commissioner Chris Paasch, who has been critical of the amount of money spent to operate the Curry campus and the services offered there, told the board, “We are not getting our bang for the buck.

“This is more of a vocational college than it is an academic college,” he said.

Paasch encouraged the board to develop yet additional vocational courses at the Curry campus. “This will keep our children here,” he said.

Curry County Commissioner Court Boice also spoke at the meeting. “There is a division here,” Boice told the college board.

Dave Gilman, who said he has been in the medical field for 38 years and currently works with Curry Health, told the board there are many job opportunities in the healthcare field.

“We have 52 openings for certified medical assistants right now,” he said. “We also need leadership and management-development courses here. We need to build for the future.”

Following the meeting, Brigham told The Pilot that the board will review all of the public comments made during the meeting. “And we will organize a work session with the necessary experts on hand who can inform us about the tax revenue law, district representation, things like that, so we can make informed decisions,” he said.

“We will report back to the citizens. My sense, when the meeting was over, is those that attended went away feeling they had had an opportunity to voice their concerns and that we listened.”

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