|OSU-Cascades on the COCC campus|
It's been widely reported that Bend is the largest city in the country without a four-year university within 100 miles. However, we do have OSU-Cascades, a one-building extension of Oregon State University, on the campus of Central Oregon Community College (COCC) on Bend's west side.
It's also widely known that Bend is represented by anti-government legislators who claim they favor government spending, only if it's spent in Bend.
There seems to be a recent push, by local officials and the president of Oregon State University, to expand OSU-Cascades at COCC.
In the last legislative session, OSU-Cascades got more than a million dollars to buy a building (which bailed out a struggling landowner) for graduate courses adjacent to Bend's Shevlin Center, about two miles from OSU-Cascades at COCC.
Then, the Bend park district bought some land, at presumably depressed prices from another struggling property owner in the Shevlin Center, with the hopes of either building another recreation facility there or partnering with OSU-Cascades for its expansion there.
Well, as is also well known, reality bites.
What is the vision for OSU-Cascades and COCC? Can Bend adequately support a community college and a separate four-year university so close by?
If so, Bend would go from one of the least-served by higher education to the most over-served by higher education.
Obviously, that is not going to happen.
There is no sense in creating a university at a "business park," which is Shevlin Center, while one of the most scenic areas in the state, the COCC campus, remains a community college.
If college educators truly believe in evolution, they would realize that COCC should evolve into OSU-Cascades.
They should also realize that Central Oregon would be best served if COCC moved to its Redmond satellite campus to better serve the region.
OSU-Cascades, then, on the campus of the current COCC would be a natural draw to students at the main, and over-subscribed, OSU campus in Corvallis.
This all assumes there is any money in state coffers for an expansion of OSU-Cascades.
Obviously, there is not.
Republican legislators, particularly those from Bend, make sure there is no state money for higher education. (Republicans believe that government can't do anything and get elected to prove it.)
State support for higher education has plummeted during these austerity times, which, for Oregon, has been ongoing for more than three decades.
Consequently, college costs for students have escalated to the point that a college education in Oregon is becoming accessible only to the financial elites or suckers from California.
Republicans have never grasped the notion that government spending includes spending for higher education.
So, as Republicans have starved government of revenue (can't raise the beer tax or any other tax), they have also starved education, particularly higher education, of the necessary funds to be competitive with other states or countries.
Republicans operate under the principle that you can have whatever you want, and not have to pay for it.
This is America, dammit. We don't need no stinkin' taxes.
Of course, with thinking like that, we will never have a four-year university in Bend.