The planned dorm on Central Oregon Community College’s Bend campus will enhance campus life and allow the college to attract more students from outside the area.

Although some critics have questioned the need for the dorm at a community college, it’s a smart move that will build on COCC’s long legacy of providing high-quality education and varied opportunities to local students.

The out-of-area students bring higher tuition payments, but they also bring a variety of views, backgrounds and experiences to campus, broadening the intellectual and social experience of all.

Both local and out-of-area students are attracted by special programs such as aviation, culinary arts, forestry, outdoor leadership and nondestructive testing.

The $22 million residence hall will have 325 beds, replacing the antiquated 100-bed Juniper Hall, which was built in 1967. The college expects the new facility to more than pay for itself over a number of years.

Having more students living on campus will create a new atmosphere, with more off-hour activity and a better sense of community. That’s all good, as long as it can be managed without severe impact to surrounding neighborhoods, which the college is actively working to avoid. Officials have been meeting with nearby landowners to discuss roads, visibility and noise.

One of the great higher education successes of recent years has been the relationship COCC has established with Oregon State University-Cascades Campus. The two have worked together to create opportunities for students undreamed of only a few years ago. And they laid the groundwork for the coming expansion of OSU-Cascades into a four-year university.

COCC’s role will shift again, with less focus on feeding students into the branch, although some students will no doubt still find it advantageous to start at COCC and then transfer. Instead, COCC will be able to further develop its role in guiding students seeking certificates and associate degrees. That’s a critical component of the governor’s 40-40-20 goal.