Construction crews have been a common sight on the Bend campus of Central Oregon Community College in recent years, and plans for a new dormitory suggest the construction boom will continue.
With planning also under way for a major expansion of Oregon State University-Cascades Campus, it’s a welcome reminder of the vibrancy of higher education in Central Oregon. The growth not only brings vastly expanded opportunities for students, but also financial and intellectual benefits to the town and region.
COCC’s board decided Wednesday to advance plans to replace its aging 103-bed Juniper Hall with a 325-bed dorm located southwest of the athletic field on campus. The board authorized COCC President Jim Middleton to negotiate a contract with Mahlum Architects for project drawings, but a final decision won’t be made for six to 10 months. If plans go forward, completion is expected in 2015.
The $22 million cost would come from bonds and money already set aside by the college, including funds from earlier construction bonds that are expiring, according to campus spokesman Ron Paradis. Within four to five years, he said, revenue from students who occupy the residence hall is expected to more than pay the costs, making the facility an income source for the college.
Although expansion on the Summit Drive side of the campus has drawn opposition from nearby residents, Paradis said the location of the new residence hall is well inside the property and has not caused complaints. He said it’s likely to reduce traffic from students traveling to off-campus housing.
Out-of-district and out-of-state students are likely to be well-represented in the dorm. Those students constitute 8 percent to 10 percent of the campus population and pay significantly higher tuition ($82 per credit in district, $108 out of district, $220 out of state; students from bordering states pay in-state tuition). Paradis said it’s also possible some students attending OSU-Cascades will live in the new residence hall, depending on how plans progress for that campus’s facilities.
When the OSU-Cascades Campus was first envisioned more than a decade ago, worry focused on possible damage to COCC. Clearly both have thrived, with plans for this new residence hall the latest indicator. All community members, not just students, are the beneficiaries.