SOU and RCC discuss ‘higher education landscape’ – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

File photo Education professionals from diverse backgrounds discussed the current needs and strengths of local institutions at a May 2 conference in Medford.

School and industry professionals come together for focus groups, one-on-one discussions

Representatives from Rogue Community College, Southern Oregon University, and the Oregon Institute of Technology met last week with members of the community to discuss “the challenges and successes of higher education.”

The conversations, derived in part from a team of researchers from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), will be used, according to a press release, to form a “comprehensive map of the education landscape higher” to help everyone from legislators to post-secondary learning consultants make decisions about “effective future planning and pathways”.

These details come from a statement from the RCC, which announced the May 2 meeting, which was held at the SOU/RCC Higher Education Center. The event was “a research study conducted by state organizations,” according to Julie Raefield, public information officer for the RCC.

In the statement, RCC President Cathy Kemper-Pelle called the meeting “an exceptional opportunity to discuss the intersections of education, employment and student challenges.”

“This forum explored meaningful topics for planning, legislative advocacy and local action,” she said. “I really appreciate the broad participation of all voters in this important dialogue.”

This dialogue took place in two ways. One was via NCHEMS researchers, who “asked in-depth questions” to event attendees about “ongoing higher education efforts” at RCC, SOU and OIT.

After that, roundtables were held regarding changes in regional economies and “what changes need to be made in higher education to cope with these changes,” according to the statement.

Brian Prescott, vice president of NCHEMS, said what his organization has done in Medford is tied to what it is doing across Oregon, gathering feedback from multiple groups related to how public post-secondary education is organized, financed and otherwise operated to meet the needs of the State. and student needs and reduce equity.

“We intentionally traveled the state to try to better appreciate regional differences so that everything that happens reflects those differences,” Prescott wrote in an email.

SOU President Rick Bailey, who is a newcomer to the state and has only been in office since January, supported the effort.

“In my opinion and from my experience in higher education, I can say with confidence that every good thing and every success we have had has come because we partnered with someone else,” said Bailey said. “For me, to all the challenges and things that we all face, the answer has to be collaboration.”

The new SOU President says he has learned as much from listening to his higher education counterparts as from NCHEMS representatives

“The takeaway for me…is that there is real opportunity in the way we as institutions communicate with prospective students, especially those who are underrepresented in higher education – and that involves a careful exploration of the current bureaucracy that exists between stakeholders,” Bailey said. . “When we can navigate that – and even change it – in ways that improve communication, we can do amazing things together.”

Representatives of regional social service organizations and K-12 superintendents, such as Brent Champion of Medford, attended and spoke at the conference.

“I strongly believe our systems are stronger when we’re aligned together, and so I wanted to offer my voice and support,” Champion said. “We are always looking for ways to strengthen our partnerships in the Valley.”

Champion noted that the RCC, SOU, OIT event was different from most conferences he has attended, particularly because it had a panel discussion component, which he participated in.

“People in the focus group just talked about the specific needs of our community. We need diesel mechanics; we need surgical technicians; we need nurses; a need for teachers – there were no surprises in that,” the superintendent said. “It’s something we’ve been working on as a community for some time.”

Champion shared with the focus group that students who take dual-enrollment courses in high school who aren’t guaranteed to be recognized throughout Oregon because colleges in the state may have numbers different courses for some courses.

“It doesn’t fit and makes it more complicated,” Champion said. “I’m using this as a very simple example that if we can align these things, how much more powerful it will be for our students to make choices across the state.”

“I always appreciate the needs of the community – it’s essential for us in the Medford School District,” Champion said. “The good news is that we have our ears to the ground on a regular basis, so there have been no surprises. Still, that’s good to know.”

Representatives and CEOs from industries ranging from regional healthcare to manufacturing were among the more than 100 attendees in attendance.

Contact journalist Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.

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