Friday, May 25, 2012

The old college try

OSU-Cascades on the COCC campus
It seems some in Bend are intoxicating themselves with the belief that a full-fledged, four-year university is just around the corner here in the middle of nowhere.

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.


  1. Thank you, I agree. I do not plan to buy a home in Bend if they put in a four year college. I've lived next door to frat houses before, and never again!

  2. Much of the time I agree with you but not (completely) this time. Yes, Republican legislators don't get it and try to have it both ways simultaneously but it would benefit Bend and Central Oregon to have a actual and real four-year university located not at Juniper Ridge but rather in the currently failed business park. Imagine a small but fully-functional university campus - complete with student housing - just outside the downtown. And keep COCC as it is where it is. Visualize a smaller version of the U of O and Lane CC or OSU and Linn-Benton CC. Bend will most likely never be a place where there are lots of "family-wage" manufacturing jobs but it could be a place where the "creative class" might be attracted to, flourish and produce an economy built on innovation and not just tourism, beer and mountain biking.

    Will / can this happen? Probably not, but I think it's an idea worth discussing and hopefully pursuing.

    P.S. I'm a Duck twice over and, while I wish it was "University of Oregon - Cascades", I still support the idea of OSU being in Bend.

    P.S.S. Frat houses? Who said anything about fraternity or sororities? Someone needs to get a life and quit hating. Not buy a house! Really now! Hello - there's already a four-year university in Bend. It's called OSU-Cascades.

    1. I'm all for a four-year university in Bend and all the benefits you describe. I just think OSU-Cascades should evolve on the campus of COCC. The costs, otherwise, are just too prohibitive for a separate, start-up four-year school considering that Republicans and lobbyists block any revenue-generating measures.

    2. Anon, you are typical of every person I have talk to who supports the 4-year college speculation. One thing in common you all have is YOU ARE ALL RUDE! You must be one of the failed speculators who came to Bend to make a buck and now are part of the sales pitching so you can make your next buck and stay in Bend. Go move to a college town if you think you can prosper there. This whole thing sounds typical of Republicans - Give us the money to build this monster and all our money will trickle down to the townspeople. Right! People who love Bend won't let you do this. There's an army of Bend lovers and we vote, and we can write, and yes most of us have lived near frat houses! Good day.

  3. Xray, While your idea of OSU-Cascades evolving on the COCC campus is interesting my guess is eventually the limited availability of land would force expansion off of the "hill" and we'd be where we are right now but with the prices of appropriate real estate higher than they are now. I also think that the presence of a community college in Bend is necessary for those who need / want those first two year required classes at a cost less than a four-year college would charge. I do feel if those promoting a larger presence for OSU-Cascades are really serious they need to show substantial good faith and raise more than a few hundred thousand dollars - more like a few million - to convince the community that there truly is a backing for a full university in Bend since, as you say, the funding of higher education in Oregon will continue to decline under the current Republican leadership.

  4. Anon, Whew! Take a deep breath and chill. Labeling everyone who supports a four-year college as rude is simply a silly and ill-informed generalization. No, I am not a failed speculator nor am I a Republican. I was born in Bend and I consider myself a progressive who would like to see this town grow in a smart way - not from greedy real estate speculation - but from creating something that has value, will last and will contribute to the community. Many of my friends also love Bend and vote and fully support the possibility of a four-year university in Bend.

    And what's with this hate towards "frat houses". I've not read or heard anyone talk about fraternity houses being part of OSU-Cascades expansion proposal. Please, tell us where you know about this dreadful town-destroying certainty.

    But hey, you should put a positive spin on the possibility of "frat houses". If, as you seem to claim that no one will want to live near fraternity houses their existence should drive down prices of Bend houses and you will be able to buy the house of your dreams for much cheaper than today :-).

  5. I have a hard time understanding why anybody would think a four-year college would degrade Bend and its "quality of life." A college is universally considered an asset to a town, both economically and culturally. I think the anti-college sentiment is driven by (a) anti-intellectualism and (b) a fear that having a four-year college here would make Bend more liberal politically.

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