OCCC Welcomes New Associate Dean

Steve Seney, Oregon Coast Community College’s new Associate Dean of Academics & Workforce, joined the College on Oct. 15.

Steven Seney

“I have been teaching at the post-secondary level for 28 years,” he said. “My last position was as the Programs Administrator for two prisons in Arizona, where I was responsible for all the educational, religious, and substance abuse counseling programs.  I did that for eight years.  Prior to that I served as the Division Chair, General Education at the Kingman Campus of Mohave Community College.”

Seney holds a BS in Human Resource Management from Park University, and Master’s degrees in Human Resource Development and Information Systems from Webster University, and is currently working on a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Steve says his top priorities in the Associate Dean position are Title II Education Programs and Part-Time Faculty supervision.

“Under the Title II Program, what appeals the most to me is developing and supporting programs that really identify and support at-risk students,” he said. “This classification of ‘at-risk students’ used to have a somewhat negative connotation, but in today’s academic world, these programs look to determine who really wants to continue their education, secondary and post-secondary, but maybe there are some barriers to success.  Our job is to partner with the student to remove those barriers and give the student the opportunity be a student.”

When asked what appeals to him about working with OCCC’s part-time faculty, Seney asked, “Have you met our part-time faculty? This is going to be fun!”

“I don’t think I have gone anywhere in this college where the support for the student is not the number one priority,” he said, “and that is especially true for the faculty.  I don’t want to take away from the importance of any person or service in this institution; however, if the faculty do not get it right, then the rest just doesn’t matter.  From everything I’ve seen so far, our faculty are getting it right every single day.”

How does the coast’s scenery and climate strike this transplant from the Desert Southwest?

“OMG this is a beautiful area,” Seney says, “and that is not doing it justice.  I drove up Hwy. 101 recently, and I swear I almost caused nine accidents – trying to drive and watch the ocean at the same time.  It is absolutely gorgeous here – and there are trees.  I came from the high desert of Arizona; we didn’t have trees.

Steve Seney can be reached at 541-867-8502 or steven.seney@oregoncoastcc.org.

 

About OCCC

Oregon Coast Community College serves Lincoln County through centers in Waldport, Newport and Lincoln City.  The College offers two-year Associate Degrees and a variety of transfer degrees, as well as numerous less-than-one-year certificate programs. New for Winter 2019, the College will launch a new early childhood education program.

Registration for credit courses in the Winter 2019 term opens Tuesday, Nov. 13.

 

Aquarium Science Program applications open

From Shark Handling to learning the tricks of plumbing aquarium tanks with PVC pipe, OCCC’s Aquarium Science Program is a program like no other in the nation, or the world.

Aquariums and zoos from around the planet turn to the AQS program for experts in the feeding and care of aquatic animals of all sorts. Our programs include 1-year certificate and 2-year degree programs. Many of our certificate students come to the AQS having already earned a four-year degree in the biological sciences.

Applications are now open for next year’s AQS program. Click here to get started, or here to jump to the AQS page on this website. Be sure to also like the program’s Facebook page.

OCCC to launch Early Childhood Ed Program

This Winter, you can begin working towards a certificate in early childhood education.

Oregon Coast Community College believes the children of Lincoln County should be afforded the highest level of care and support possible. And, the College believes is providing affordable, cutting-edge training and education to those looking to increase their earning potential and start a career in the childcare industry.

Learn more about the program, launching in the Winter 2019 term, here.

Applications open for grants, scholarships

HECC Logo

Applications Now Open for Grants and Scholarships at OregonStudentAid.govHECC Logo

Salem, OR – The Higher Education Coordinating Commission, Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) encourages students statewide to apply now for grants and scholarships at OregonStudentAid.gov. OSAC awards more than $102 million each year in state-funded grants and privately funded scholarships to help students meet their college expenses, and the application for private scholarships opens today, November 1.

1ST STEP FOR STATE AND FEDERAL AID, FAFSA or ORSAA:

Students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA) to be considered for federal and/or state financial aid, including grants and loans. ​The FAFSA is the primary application for federal and state financial aid, and the ORSAA is Oregon’s alternative to the FAFSA for undocumented students, including students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Information from the FAFSA or the ORSAA are used to determine students’ eligibility for the Oregon Promise, the Oregon Opportunity Grant, and numerous scholarships. The FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for federal aid, including the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Work-Study.

OSAC SCHOLARSHIPS:

Starting November 1, Oregon students may explore over 600 privately-funded scholarships and apply for up to 40 with one application. There is no cost to apply. Scholarship funds are available for: graduating high school seniors; college undergraduate and graduate students; GED® students; homeschooled students; community college and vocational school students; single parents returning to school; and more. Students must apply online at OregonStudentAid.gov and submit a completed OSAC scholarship application and all other required materials by the final deadline of March 1, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. (PST). Students who submit their applications by February 15, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. may be entered in a drawing to win a $1,000 OSAC Early Bird scholarship.

OREGON OPPORTUNITY GRANT:

The Oregon Opportunity Grant is Oregon’s largest state-funded, need-based grant program that helps students pay for college at public community colleges, public universities and participating private institutions statewide. Students should complete either the FAFSA or the ORSAA for the upcoming school year. Oregon Opportunity Grants are awarded until funds are exhausted, so students should file their FAFSA (or ORSAA, if applicable) as soon as possible. Students who were first-time Opportunity Grant recipients in 2018-19 will be considered for a guaranteed second year award, providing they meet certain additional criteria detailed here and submit a 2019-20 FAFSA or ORSAA by May 1, 2019.

OREGON PROMISE:

Current high school seniors and GED® test graduates may apply for the Oregon Promise Grant, which helps to cover tuition at Oregon community colleges. Students must enroll in a community college within six months of graduation, and in accordance with Oregon Promise deadlines. Minimum GPA® requirements apply. Visit OregonStudentAid.gov for eligibility details. The program has rolling deadlines depending upon graduation date; use the “Find Your Deadline” tool. Students who are graduating between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019 can complete an application now. Students are also required to complete either the FAFSA or the ORSAA by the deadline.

OREGON NATIONAL GUARD TUITION ASSISTANCE:

This new program is established to provide funding for tuition at Oregon community colleges (up to 90 credits) and Oregon public universities (up to 180 credits) for current Oregon National Guard members. For additional information on deadlines, eligibility requirements, and how to apply, visit our website here.

OREGON CHAFEE EDUCATION AND TRAINING GRANT:

The Chafee grant, a federal program administered in partnership with the Oregon Department of Human Services, helps current and former child welfare foster youth pay for postsecondary education and training. The Chafee Grant application opens today November 1, 2018. Students should apply online at OregonStudentAid.gov and complete a 2019-20 FAFSA. For eligibility requirements, deadlines, and more information, visit the Chafee section of our website OregonStudentAid.gov. The application will close when funds are depleted.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND PUBLICATIONS:

To help students understand the programs detailed here, and the application processes, OSAC offers numerous videos and resources for students, counselors, students, parents, and educators.

The State of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) envisions a future in which all Oregonians—and especially those whom our systems have underserved and marginalized—benefit from the transformational power of high-quality postsecondary education and training. For more information, visit the HECC online

Student Nurses Collect Hygiene Supplies

Make a difference in the lives of Lincoln County Youth:

Donate to the OCCC Nursing Program Hygiene Drive

The Oregon Coast Community College Student Nurse Association has announced its 10th annual Hygiene Drive.

Each year for the past decade, students in OCCC’s nursing program have set up tables at various Lincoln County retail stores to collect personal hygiene items for children in need.

Lynn Barton, a member of the nursing faculty, says this year the program has teamed up with an existing Lincoln County-based support program.

“Unfortunately, many children and their families are in need of personal hygiene supplies,” Barton said. “We can help through a simple donation to our Lincoln County based family support program, H.E.L.P. – the Homeless Education & Literacy Project.

You can donate to the program simply by visiting these locations while nursing students are collecting donations of key items (see list below) as well as monetary contributions.

9am-3pm Saturday, Oct. 13 • Bi-Mart, Lincoln City

9am-3pm Saturday, Oct. 27 • Walmart, Newport

The SNO encourages the community to consider donating any of the following items, of particular use to the target population the drive aims to serve – Lincoln County children aged 5-18.

Shampoo • Conditioner • Face Wash • Deodorant • Skin Lotion • Toothpaste • Toothbrushes • Feminine Hygiene Products • Hair Ties • Brushes & Combs • Mini First Aid Kits • Hand Sanitizer • Underwear/Boxers • Socks • Diapers • Laundry Detergent • Lice Kits • Diapers

 

About OCCC

Oregon Coast Community College serves Lincoln County through centers in Waldport, Newport and Lincoln City.  The College offers two-year Associate Degrees and a variety of transfer degrees, as well as numerous less-than-one-year certificate programs. New for Fall 2018, the College has launched a new teaching degree program, and an early childhood education program is slated to launch with the Winter 2019 term.

To learn more about the College and its programs and services, call 541-867-8501, visit one of our centers, or peruse this website.

OCCC Fall Term Launches

OCCC Campus Building

Oregon Coast Community College’s Fall Term begins Monday, Sept. 24.
The term stands out for a number of reasons. First, it features the largest lineup of classes offered in Lincoln City in the College’s history. Second, it marks the launch of the College’s new teaching degree program – produced in partnership with Western Oregon University, the Lincoln County School District, and Tillamook Bay Community College.
Also new this Fall is the Digital Media & Marketing Studio 2, at the Central County Campus in Newport. This workspace follows the launch of the DMMS 1 two years ago at the North County Center in Lincoln City. Like the Lincoln City studio, the Newport studio offers cutting edge photography, video and audio recording equipment and facilities, and is available to students as well as small businesses from throughout the county. Watch for announcements on the College’s Facebook and Instagram accounts about upcoming open house tours of these studio spaces. Both studios were funded by generous grants from the Lincoln County Economic Development Grant Program, made possible by video lottery dollars.
First-time students with questions about everything from where their first classes will be held, to where to find a tutor, to where the restrooms are – not to mention how to order a hamburger at the College Store – can find answers during the first week of the term at the front desks of both the Newport and Lincoln City campus locations.
There’s a welcome back barbecue event scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 3 in Newport and Thursday, Oct. 4 in Lincoln City. These events offer students a chance to meet one another, ask questions about the College’s various locations and services, and get photographs taken for OCCC student IDs, among other things.

More on the College

Oregon Coast Community College is in its 31st year of service to Lincoln County, through locations in Waldport, Lincoln City, and Newport – site of the College’s Central County Campus.
The college offers a number of Career & Technical Education programs, from the medical assisting and nursing assistant programs (based in Waldport) and the College’s one-of-a-kind Aquarium Science Program. This Fall, the Aquarium Science Program is hosting a presentation on ocean acidification and a tour of the AQS Facility, located at the OCCC Central County Campus in Newport. The Aquarium Science Program attracts students from around the country, as well as around the county. In some recent years, the program has notched 100% job-placement rates for graduates (defined as working in the industry within six months of graduation) and each year AQS students are placed at internships at some of the leading aquariums and zoos around the country. The program offers one-year certificate as well as two-year degree programs.
Oregon Coast Community College’s two-year Nursing Program has graduated more than 200 Registered Nurses in its history, many of whom are currently working in Lincoln County. Others choose to matriculate directly to Linfield College as juniors, to spend two additional years earning their Bachelor’s degrees in Nursing.

Follow Oregon Coast Community College on Facebook and Instagram (@occcsharks) to stay up to date on late-breaking announcements and events. Tag your on-campus photos with @occcsharks and you could win prizes or be entered into drawings for various items throughout the term – check the Your College Store for more information about these opportunities. For more information, call the OCCC main switchboard at 541-867-8501.

Lincoln City offers scholarships for SBDC classes & workshops

Lincoln City provides scholarships to businesses taking SBDC classes

For the sixth consecutive year, Lincoln City – via its Urban Renewal Agency, and thanks to a unanimous vote of support by the city council in July – has made scholarships available through economic development funds for business classes and programs offered at Oregon Coast Community College’s Small Business Development Center.

“The funds allocated to these scholarships are from the same sources that the city uses to make available low-interest loans for façade improvement or business expansion,” said SBDC Director Dave Price. “We’re grateful and humbled to know that the city, year after year, continues to appreciate the value of the services we offer to our participating businesses, and steps up to encourage more businesses to register, thanks to this financial support. Just as a business may become more profitable thanks to added traffic attracted by a shiny new sign or façade, we see over and over again how our clients can achieve greater returns by implementing the strategies learned in our classes and workshops.”

The scholarships are available only to businesses located within the city’s Urban Renewal District and, while they last,  provide 100% of the tuition for any SBDC classes, workshops, or programs – including the Small Business Management Program, a year-long program the College has presented for more than 25 years. The SBM begins in late September and runs through June, and features monthly classes and monthly one-on-one business advising sessions.

While the Lincoln City funding is specific to business located within the city’s Urban Renewal District, support received from other contributors helps reduce the cost of SBDC programs to businesses countywide.

“Thanks to ongoing generous support from the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, the City of Newport and the City of Waldport, we’re also able to continue offering other scholarship support to businesses located elsewhere in Lincoln County,” Price said. The County, for example, has provided funding to the SBDC totaling $30,000 per year – using funds generated by video poker machines in the county. State law directs governments to invest a portion of those proceeds to economic development. “We’re thankful to the county commissioners that they have chosen to invest a portion of those economic development funds in the SBDC, helping ensure a broad array of classes, workshops and services to businesses and would-be entrepreneurs across the county,” Price said.

The Oregon Coast Community College SBDC has announced its fall term course lineup. Registration is open now for all of those classes and events, and can be found here.  For more information, call the SBDC at 541-994-4166.

Small Business Management Registration Opens

Patrick White

Registration opens for OCCC’s 2018-19 Small Business Management Program

Patrick White

SBM Coordinator Misty Lambrecht, pictured with 2017-18 SBM Business of the Year Patrick White, of Northwest Allpro Auto Clinic, of Newport.

Are you ready to invest some time in the classroom to help grow your business? Perhaps now is the time to take advantage of one of Lincoln County’s most prominent and established professional development opportunities – the Small Business Management (SBM) Program at Oregon Coast Community College.

This summer, the staff at OCCC’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is meeting with business owners from all corners of Lincoln County.

“The summer is one of our busiest times,” said Misty Lambrecht, coordinator of the SBM, the Center’s cornerstone program. “Each summer,” Lambrecht continued, “we schedule meeting after meeting with business owners who may be considering enrolling in our SBM for the next academic year.” This year, the program kicks off in late September 2018, and runs through June 2019.  Applications are open now.

Any Lincoln County business can apply to participate in the Small Business Management Program, but the typical participant has at least two to three years of operations under her belt. “Some businesses are much older,” Lambrecht said. “In recent years, we’ve seen brand-new startups sitting next to owners of fourth-generation county businesses. All are welcome, and all have something to contribute to our discussions.”

“Ron Spisso, who ran this program for almost 20 years, called it an ‘MBA Lite,’” she said. “It introduces business owners to fundamental concepts that have been around for years, as well as very new information – this year new content will range from the ramifications of the 2018 tax changes to the new marketing environment created by Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, among many others.”

 

About the program

The Small Business Management Program at its core consists of monthly classroom sessions, from September through June, along with once-monthly one-on-one advising sessions, during which participants meet alone with their business advisor from the SBDC.

“The typical SBM participant does a lot more than these two appointments per month,” said OCCC SBDC Director Dave Price. “They also do a great deal of work on their business, not just in their business. Generally, SBM participants are joining the program because they have some goals for their business to achieve during the year. Some are out to overhaul and improve their marketing programs and strategies. Others are determined to get their financial reporting improved and to resole longstanding issues with their QuickBooks records. Still others are hoping to learn more about resolving nagging personnel issues. And then,” Price continued, “there are those who are simply eager to learn more about doing business – and specifically to learn from other business owners about doing business here in our wonderful, crazy, and challenging corner of the world.”

Price, a county resident since 1996 who launched his own business here in 2005 and sold it in 2013, is a graduate of the SBM. “I enrolled in the program in the depths of the Great Recession,” he said. “I loved the monthly advising sessions – they were a great way to step out of the day to day stresses of the workplace and to really talk strategy, and building value for the long term.”

This year, the SBDC plans to offer two different cohorts of the SBM; one that meets Tuesday afternoons in Newport, and another meeting Wednesday mornings in Lincoln City.

“We began offering two cohorts two years ago,” Lambrecht said. “Business tell us they appreciate the convenience of having sessions closer to home, and also the ability to catch a missed class at the other location.”

 

Getting registered

To find out if the Small Business Management Program is for you, and to schedule an appointment with Lambrecht or Price, call 541-994-4166, or visit www.oregoncoastcc.org/small-business-management/ and click “Application.”

 

About the SBDC

The Small Business Development Center has served Lincoln County’s entrepreneurs for 31 years, offering free, confidential, one-on-one business advising to anyone in business or who’s simply thinking of one day launching a business.  The SBDC also offers a variety of classes and workshops at OCCC’s locations in Waldport, Lincoln City, and Newport. A complete listing of upcoming classes can be found any time at www.oregoncoastbusiness.com.

 

 

Caring runs in the family

Caring runs in the family

OCCC Nursing-bound student following in her mother’s (and aunt’s) footsteps

Kira, pictured on an Oceanlake Elementary School field trip in 2009. Photo by Niki Price.

In the hospital environment, the focus for physicians is on the medicine, while nurses spend more time with the person seeking help, and frequently are the ones with whom patients will forge the most significant relationships before they leave.

It’s that deeper relationship that motivated recent Taft High graduate Kira Sciarrotta to begin the first part of her Certified Nursing Assistant certification through the Oregon Coast Community College while still in high school, and is continuing to guide her as she plans to attend the college this Fall doing preparatory coursework so that she can later apply to OCCC’s Nursing Program to pursue an Associate of Applied Science Degree.

“I like the connection that nursing allows you to make with the patients,” Kira said. “The doctors aren’t as involved with patient care, and I really like that connection, so this is the road I’m choosing to follow.”

 

A healthy home

Sciarrotta has learned about the nuts and bolts of nursing in two ways: at home and then while she was obtaining her CNA1, one of two trainings that enable people to work as nursing assistants.

“My mom is an ICU nurse and my aunt is a surgical nurse, so I grew up around it,” she said. “I really know what I am getting into.”

During training, a mix of classwork and on the job experience, CNA students spend three weeks during which they are assigned to a CNA at a hospital twice a week, for eight hours a day.

“Basically we were doing shifts at the hospital with the help of our trainers,” she said. “The fourth week, we did one 12-hour shift so we got to see what it will be like when we are really working in the field.”

The hard work done by health professionals in something Sciarrotta has seen firsthand.

“My mom works two 12-hour shifts a week and still takes really good care of four kids,” she said. “She’s a huge inspiration for me.”

And she is not just following in the footsteps of the influential women in her life by her career choice, but by her choice of colleges, too. Kira’s mother and aunt both graduated from the Oregon Coast Community College nursing program.

“My mom and aunt both went through it, so I know the program and am known to some of the instructors, which is nice.”

 

True grit

Linda Mollino, Director of Career and Technical Education Programs: Human Services Careers, says she admired the persistence Sciarrotta showed when the ambitious teen first applied to the CNA Program.

“Kira’s was an interesting situation,” Mollino said. “We received grant funds to give six people the opportunity to do the CNA program last year, but the rules state they have to be eighteen years old.”

Kira was seventeen.

Staff from the college and from participating high schools work to identify potential students that they believe will excel and succeed in the CNA program, and Mollino defers to their judgement when it comes time to offer the spots.

“She was persistent and had done well in high school,” Mollino said, “so I said if the counselors recommended her, we would work with her.” Glowing recommendations from counselors followed, and Kira was admitted to the program.

Sciarrotta continued to impress Mollino as she worked through the program requirements.

“She’s special,” Mollino said. “Not only was she a delight in class, but she’s the sort of student that you just have a lot of confidence in – confidence that they will have a bright future.”

Beginning with Fall 2018 term, Kira Sciarrotta will be working on pre-reqs in preparation for applying to the OCCC Nursing Program.

Bigger isn’t always better

A lifelong Lincoln City resident, Sciarrotta feels lucky to have OCCC as her local school.

“The college experience I’ve had has been amazing,” she said. “I love OCCC so much. The campus is so pretty, and the emphasis they have on mapping things out, so that if you don’t know what you’re missing they can help you figure it out, is so helpful. Small schools can get a bad reputation, but it’s nice to know that someone knows who you are and is willing to work with you. I’m sure that’s harder in bigger schools.”

Mollino, who has worked at the college since 2007, agrees.

“There’s something about Lincoln County and our college,” she said. “There’s more of an intimacy; the students really know we are invested in their success. Not that we aren’t hard on them, but we know them by their first names, and in many cases we know their families.”

Sciarrotta felt that though the school was small, there was no small effort to provide the students with what they would need to succeed.

“They have incredible labs where we can run through different scenarios,” she said. “They’ve put a lot of money into the program, and it shows.”

She also received a lot of help wading through the sometimes-daunting river of scholastic red tape.

“At the end of my senior year of high school, the staff at OCCC really helped me with planning my schedule and understanding my options for financial aid,” she said. “It definitely helped make the process less stressful.”

Mollino noted that college staff also help make connections between recent graduates and potential employers.

“When we are graduating a class we let the hospitals know who has finished our program, and go that extra mile to tell them about the particular strengths of each person. It really helps in the hiring process when you can make it personal.”

 

Room to grow

During her decade at the College, Mollino has seen not just an impressive number of graduates from the nursing degree and certification programs, but a growth in what the college offers in the healthcare field.

“We’ve added EMT, medical assisting, and early childhood education programs,” she said, adding that a benefit of many of these is that they enable people to stay in the area and still find employment.

“It’s amazing to see our graduates all over the local hospitals, and for people to find out that they did all of their prerequisites here on the coast.”

OCCC’s Early Childhood Education Program is brand new, and will launch in the Winter 2019 term.

 

Future forward

Sciarrotta is considering a specialty that may take her elsewhere for continued education. Luckily, we will have her here for at least the next few years.

“I’d like to eventually work in pediatrics,” she said. “But I plan to work as a CNA locally while I’m finishing my nursing prerequisites and the nursing degree program.”

Whether graduates stay or not, though, the OCCC program has a significant local impact.

“I believe our program has changed the level of healthcare in Lincoln County,” Mollino said. “The new energy of our students – especially the young ones – brings change, and that’s really positive.”

Mollino herself has had an impact on the students with whom she’s interacted, like Sciarrotta, who named both her and Nursing Faculty Advisor Lynn Barton as having been a huge help and influence.

Mollino recalled a chance encounter she had over a cup of coffee in Newport – an encounter that impacted more than one life directly.

“Once I went into a small cafe in Nye Beach and struck up a conversation with a woman working there who, when she found out what I do, said, ‘I always wanted to be a nurse, but I’m not smart enough.’ I talked with her about the program,” Mollino said, “and about what we offer and how we work with people to complete the requirements in a way that fits their life, and she decided to give it a try. Now she’s working at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital. She’s changed her life, and the life of her daughter.”

The importance of building relationships is critical in the healthcare industry, and the staff at OCCC works to reinforce this with their students throughout the program.

“Physicians have so many patients to see every day, and sometimes have to travel to different clinics and hospitals.” Mollino said. “Over time, we are seeing the health care community overall developing a more holistic approach, but nursing has always had that. There are so many things that could be going on with patients, which we try to get our students to understand. We have to remember that people had lives before they came in, and will have lives after they leave. While they are with us, we need to use that understanding to best care for them.”

 

About OCCC

Oregon Coast Community College serves Lincoln County through centers in Waldport, Newport and Lincoln City.  The College offers two-year Associate Degrees and a variety of transfer degrees, as well as numerous less-than-one-year certificate programs. New for Fall 2018, the College will launch a new teaching degree program in partnership with Tillamook Bay Community College and Western Oregon University. In the Winter 2019 term, the College will launch new Early Childhood Education degrees and certificates.

Registration for credit courses in the Fall 2018 term is open now. To learn more about the College and its programs and services, peruse this website or call 541-867-8501.

 

Accreditation Update: College achieves Candidacy status

OCCC’s Central County Campus in Newport.

OCCC achieves major milestone towards independent accreditation

Oregon Coast Community College has been granted Candidacy status, the final stage prior to independent regional accreditation. The announcement was made Thursday, July 26, by Sonny Ramaswamy, President of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Regional accreditation provides students with access to federal financial aid, and also ensures that credits earned are transferable. Currently, OCCC programs and services are accredited through an agreement with  Portland Community College.

According to Ramaswamy’s letter, the NWCCU took the action at its meeting on June 27-29, 2018, “after consideration of evidence, including the Institution’s Self-Evaluation Report, the Peer-Evaluation Report, the Institutional Response to the Peer-Evaluation Report, and the information received as part of the institutional representative meeting with commissioners.”

OCCC President Birgitte Ryslinge, Dean of Academics and Workforce Daniel Lara, and Dean of Students Cindy Carlson attended the June meeting of the NWCCU and addressed the commission.

“It is my great pleasure to let you know that OCCC has been granted Candidacy by NWCCU,” Ryslinge wrote in an email to the College’s Board of Education and management team late Thursday “Now, we set our eyes towards independence!”

The College’s Self-Evaluation Report was filed with the NWCCU in February of 2018. An NWCCU peer evaluation visit took place April 9 to 11, in Newport and Lincoln City. The Self-Evaluation Report, the Peer-Evaluation Report compiled by the visiting team, and the College’s Response to the Peer-Evaluation Report are all available for public viewing on the College’s website.

OCCC’s North County Center in Lincoln City.

A long journey

Oregon Coast Community College was founded in 1987. For the first twenty-plus years of its history the college provided classes and services out of a variety of rented spaces. In 2004 the voters of Lincoln County passed a $23.5 million bond to develop a permanent college campus in Newport and college centers in Lincoln City and Waldport. The faculty, staff, and students of OCCC deeply appreciate the tremendous support shown by the voters of Lincoln County, then and now.

In July 2014, Dr. Ryslinge was named the president of Oregon Coast Community College and was charged by the OCCC Board of Education with leading the college to independent accreditation.

Since its founding, OCCC’s academic programs have been accredited through other Oregon community colleges. Since 2014, OCCC has been accredited through Portland Community College.  Every graduate who crossed the stage during this June’s commencement ceremony earned a PCC diploma.

“We’re thankful to PCC for their tremendous support of Oregon Coast,” Ryslinge said. “But, we know that the best way OCCC can serve the residents of Lincoln County is to secure its own independence. When our students cross the stage and collect the diplomas they’ve earned, we want those diplomas to say ‘Oregon Coast Community College.’ The ‘Oregon Coast Diploma’ is one of our foundational strategic objectives and it means far more than a name printed on a document. It represents local responsiveness and services we can tailor to meet the challenges, the needs, and the opportunities Lincoln County presents now, and will present in the future.”

OCCC’s South County Center in Waldport.

The process towards Independence

Oregon Coast Community College informed the NWCCU of its intent to pursue independent accreditation via a report filed in July 2014. The College was granted “Applicant” status in 2016. With this week’s announcement it has achieved “Candidate” status, the only remaining step is to be granted fully independent Accredited status. However, recognition as Candidate neither implies nor ensures an institution will attain Accredited status with the NWCCU. Though every case is different, the process of a college like OCCC pursuing independent accreditation historically has taken 7-10 years.  Now that OCCC has been awarded Candidacy, NWCCU allows up to five years to reach Accreditation.

“We have come a long way,” Ryslinge said, “and we know that there is still significant work to be done in order to be fully independent. Our team is ready and eager for the challenge. The communities and students we serve deserve nothing less.”

Follow the College’s progress towards independent accreditation here.