OSU-Cascades plans for students without a campus

First freshmen still set for 2015

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Sep 4, 2014 at 12:01AM

Despite delaying the scheduled opening of its new campus to 2016, OSU-Cascades still plans to host freshmen for the first time a year from now, even offering students their own dorm rooms, albeit on a campus shared with another school.

The university currently works on a “two plus two” model, providing junior- and senior-level classes to students who have completed two years at Central Oregon Community College or another school. OSU-Cascades had planned to offer a traditional four-year university education by 2015, giving students the option to live in dorms on a 10-acre campus on Bend’s west side. The university’s development plans, however, met legal challenges from residents opposed to the location, which OSU-Cascades said pushed the opening date back a year. Nonetheless, the university is working to have everything in place so a full slate of freshman and sophomore courses — called the baccalaureate core by OSU — will be available for students by 2015, even if the campus is not.

“Every course that OSU requires, we will make available,” said Communications Director Christine Coffin, adding that some programs, including natural resources and sports science, will initially offer a few requirements through COCC classes.

Back to Cascades Hall

Earlier this year, the university said it was considering leasing classroom space in Bend, but Coffin said the university will host all of its students in Cascades Hall on the COCC campus, where juniors and seniors currently study, and the Graduate and Research Center, about a half-mile from the planned campus.

“The freshmen will all take courses in Cascades Hall, which makes sense because that’s where all the advising and student services and student life offices are,” Coffin said. “The building will definitely be crowded, so upper-level courses (for juniors and seniors) may be shifted to the Graduate and Research Center. We’re trying (to) make do with what we have and use space creatively. It may also mean some faculty offices will be shifting and doubling up.”

Becky Johnson, an Oregon State University vice president and the highest-ranking administrator in Bend, said the aim is to provide “an experience that feels like a real four-year university.” OSU-Cascades hopes to achieve part of that mission by providing dorm rooms in the $22 million, 330-bed residence hall under construction on COCC’s campus, which is scheduled to open in fall 2015 and is located a short walk from Cascades Hall.

“We’ll also try to treat that first class as a cohort, as a lot of them will be in the same classes,” Johnson said. “It’s part of the experience you have in a smaller school, where everyone gets to know each other and the faculty, and there’s a really strong support network.”

The university hopes to pull students from across the country to build on its population of 936 juniors, seniors and graduate students. Danny Cecchini, an OSU-Cascades admissions adviser, said the university is aiming for 100 students, 50 from the region and 50 from beyond. In order to shelter newcomers from the tough rental market, Cecchini said, OSU-Cascades hopes to have around 50 beds set aside for the university in COCC’s new dorm.

No deal with COCC yet

COCC spokesman Ron Paradis said no deal has been finalized between the two schools, adding that the college “is very open to the conversation.”

The university originally hoped to have 200 students in the first freshman class but tempered its ambitions after the campus delay. Despite the reduction, Cecchini said, his pitch to prospective students will not be affected by the fact that freshmen won’t have a campus to call their own.

“It’s Bend, and Bend is still going to be beautiful,” he said. “That’s a big pull, especially for our out-of-area students.”

The university is working on a financial incentive, too, as freshman students may be eligible for a scholarship simply for attending as part of the first freshman class. Cecchini said the scholarship, which has not been finalized, will likely be $1,000 or more, depending on funds and how many students are awarded the money.

“We’re still trying to figure out the logistics with the financial aid office, but the name is likely going to allude to the fact that they will be pioneers here,” Cecchini said. “You’re coming in and getting to do something very few people get to do, which is to be a part of setting up this brand-new campus and leaving your mark.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com