Cascade Views Podcast

Dr. Laurie Chesley - Democracy's College

November 07, 2022 Michael Sipe - Central Oregon Leadership Discussions
Cascade Views Podcast
Dr. Laurie Chesley - Democracy's College
Show Notes Transcript

Laurie is the President of Central Oregon Community College. You can find out more about COCC at  

Prior to joining COCC, Chesley was provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan. Her administrative and leadership experience spans 18 years and includes both two- and four-year colleges. Chesley served as interim dean of learning at Northwestern Michigan, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Ferris State (Michigan) University, dean of humanities at Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) Community College, and associate dean and dean of arts and sciences at Grand Rapids Community College. As a recipient of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Faculty Excellence Award and a past winner of the Michigan Chapter of the American Council of Education Network's Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award, Chesley is passionate about mentoring the leaders of tomorrow. 

Laurie is here to talk with us today about higher education in general, and COCC in particular.

Unknown Speaker  0:07  
We're really, really proud  to be able to partner with neighbor impact on an early childhood education business accelerator program. And what the program does is that it trails people who want to open home based childcare businesses. To do that work.

Narrator  0:32  
Welcome to cascade views a discussion with Central Oregon leaders. Your host is Michael SIPE, local business and community leader Best Selling Author of the Avada principle and candidate for Oregon State Representative for House District 53, which encompasses southern Redman sisters temerloh in northern bend. The purpose of these discussions is to share the views and insights of local leaders from a variety of community sectors on a range of timely and important regional and state issues. With that, now, here's your host, Michael SIPE.

Michael Sipe  1:07  
Thanks for joining us on Cascade views. This is Michael SIPE, and I'm excited to welcome Dr. Laurie Chesley, to the show today, or is the president of Central Oregon Community College. You can find out more about Prior to joining CSEC Dr. Chesley was Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan. For administrative and leadership experience spans 18 years and includes both two and four year colleges. Chelsea served as Interim Dean of learning at Northwestern Michigan, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Ferris State, Dean of Humanities at Montgomery County Community College and associate dean and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Grand Rapids Community College. As a recipient of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Faculty Excellence Award and a past winner of the Michigan Chapter of the American Council of Education networks, distinguished woman in Higher Education Leadership Award. Chesley is passionate about mentoring the leaders of tomorrow. Laurie is here to talk with us today about higher education in general, and COCC in particular. Hi, Laurie. Hi, Mike. Well, to kick this off, tell us just a little bit more about your background. Where did you grow up? How'd you get into the higher education and what brought you to Central Oregon?

Unknown Speaker  2:26  
Sure, well, I've spent most of my life in Michigan, in the Midwest, and I grew up in a small town in southwest Michigan. I am a first generation college student. And I thought higher education was the most wonderful thing ever. I am, I don't want to shock you. But I was kind of a nerd in high school, and then I went to college. And I said to myself, How can I spend as many years as possible, going to college? And so I think I found a way to do that. And I've I've been successful spent my entire career in higher ed. In all seriousness, for me, you know, higher education was transformative. My life would not be what it is would not have been what it is without higher education. And so maybe I can help create that experience for other people.

Michael Sipe  3:34  
So what brought you to Central Oregon?

Unknown Speaker  3:37  
Well, I, I, I had always planned I don't know always but for many years I had planned maybe someday I would be the president of a community college where I would try that route. And about six years ago, my husband of 28 years passed away. And that that's a real life changing moment is you is Eddie as anyone would know. And I realized life is pretty short. And I better not wait too long to try to do some things that I hadn't wanted to do. And so when I got my feet back under me after that event, I started to apply for positions. And I applied for positions in the Midwest, and an Oregon because when I was a younger woman, my husband and I had a very good friend who lived in Oregon and we had vacation here extensively. And I distinctly remember being on some beach on the Oregon coast and saying to him, this wouldn't be a bad play stand up. And so and so here I am. And he is absolutely still with me in spirit Right.

Michael Sipe  5:01  
Yeah, condolences on that I actually do understand I lost my wife. And so your phraseology about getting your feet back underneath you is really pertinent. Yeah. Well, we're glad you're here. Talk to us a little bit about community colleges, though, why was that aspirational for you? And how do they fit into the educational spectrum?

Unknown Speaker  5:25  
Yeah, well my own. I never personally attended as a student at community college. And I had a pretty privileged education. My parents, I was very blessed to have my parents be able to support my going to college. And then I was able to support myself through graduate school. So I, by the time I finished graduate school, I knew that a life of research was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay in higher education I wanted to teach. But I didn't want some of the pressures and the challenges that would come with being at a research institution, a four year institution. And so one of my earliest Jobs was at a community college. And I thought to myself, this is this is where it's at Boise, I wish I would have attended a community college. And I thought, this is the place I can make a difference and do the kind of work that's important to me. So I stumbled into community colleges. And I'm surely glad that I did. A lot of commentators refer to community colleges as democracies, colleges. And I've always really liked that description. Because we are the higher education, place where anyone can go and have the opportunity to succeed. We are open admissions. We live and breathe the mission of doing everything we can to help students be successful, to take them from wherever they are, and move them on a path toward toward their goal. And it doesn't mean that everybody succeeds. We wish that were the case. But if you want that opportunity, where the accessible affordable place for you to go and find that, and as you know, Mike, we have a broad range of offerings. We offer the first two years of a four year degree, so transfer programs, liberal arts and sciences, but we also offer workforce development, and career and technical education that leads directly into a job for folks, for folks who don't want to like me stay and stay in college for the rest of their lives.

Michael Sipe  8:23  
Love that phrase. I've never heard it before democracy's college. What a terrific, terrific phrase. Let's see, you'll see specifically they'll give us some of the history of the college. Maybe some high points along the way, and how you're positioned today.

Unknown Speaker  8:38  
Sure. Well, we are the oldest community college in Oregon. In 2024, we will be 75 years old. We started about 73 years ago in a room in the old bend High School. So we've we've been around a long time. We've had branch campuses in Redmond, a branch campus in Redmond for 25 years. And we've had branch campuses in both Madras and Prineville for 10 years. So we're not just about serving band, we really are this this region's Community College. A number of years ago, we were also the host site for OSU offering programming here in Central Oregon. And obviously they have grown from some facilities on our campus to their own campus, which is really great for Central Oregon as well to have a four year institution. A lot of the history of COC C is really firmly rooted in its transfer mission, and that will always be important to us. It's a key component of what any community college does. But more and more in more recent years, and in my time here, we're also focusing on high demand, high wage, high interest jobs, and getting students who want to get into the workforce into the workforce, meeting the needs of our local employers. And so, workforce development, and career and technical education have really become key focuses for us. As we move forward and try to meet the needs of our community,

Michael Sipe  10:42  
well, where do your students come from? And what motivates them to attend see OCC versus, you know, maybe a community college somewhere else? Or maybe a four year? University?

Unknown Speaker  10:52  
Yeah, well, obviously, we're the most affordable option in the region. And in fact, statewide, our tuition rates are in the lowest five community colleges. So we are among the most affordable community colleges in the state. So most of our students are from Central Oregon. Some come from around the state a few from out of state, we're able to serve that range of students because we do have an on campus residence hall. And the reason we attract students from all over is now I'm partial, I think we have the best faculty and the best programs. But some of the some of the reasons that they also come is because we have some very unique programs. A lot of students come here from afar to take programs like aviation, like culinary, like fire science. And so those unique programs are also a drawn point. So it's a combination of a lot of things.

Michael Sipe  12:10  
Recently, you took me on a really interesting tour of the building where you offer medical and dental related courses. And this is such a critical area of need in our community. And, you know, across the state right now, tell us a little bit about those programs that that are offered at the college.

Unknown Speaker  12:28  
Sure, where we are a major provider of workforce for St. Charles and other health care entities around our region. We offer nursing, certified nursing assistant, medical assisting dental assisting, pharmacy tech, massage therapy, and tea and paramedicine. And obviously, that's super important for our region, because healthcare is one of the it is the largest employer, St. Charles is the largest employer in Central Oregon. And as we know, particularly with an aging population, folks like me, healthcare is becoming more and more important. And so we've been able to form some really unique partnerships with St. Charles, to train their current staff on site. We've developed some new unique formats and and curricula for them and real really are doing everything we can to meet to meet the ever increasing needs of healthcare in our region.

Michael Sipe  13:44  
It was very impressive to be on the tour with you and see the elaborate training facilities that you've set up. I mean, they're like model pharmacies and model dental offices and model hospital rooms. And it was it was quite impressive. I had no idea. So great job on that. Yeah. You also have in you alluded to it a little earlier, you also have a robust continuing education program. So fill us in a little bit on that.

Unknown Speaker  14:11  
Yeah, we do. We have a broad range of offerings that they range from Workforce Training, various kinds of certifications. Our Small Business Development Center as part of our community education. We also have classes that are more just personal enrichment, music, gardening, cooking, we have a really, really popular wine class, really popular beer classes. So you can come take courses for fun. You can come take courses to improve your skills in the job that you currently have to gain certifications that hopefully can lead to higher wages. It's really quite an incredible scope of offerings that we have, beyond our credit programs.

Michael Sipe  15:13  
Because I'm a business guy. And because I've had the opportunity to be a guest instructor at the Small Business Development Center, and because a lot of people who will be listening to this are small business owners, tell us just a little bit more about the Small Business Development Center and the offerings there.

Unknown Speaker  15:33  
Sure. Are Small Business Development Center works with small business owners, at every stage, in the lifecycle of a business, from how to start a business, how to access capital, for a new business, how to grow a business, how to sustain a business. And even we have classes and what if you want to move on from your business, sell a business. So we really support small business owners at every stage of the lifecycle of a business. And we have coaches that folks can access, we have courses that folks can take, again, we help people navigate how to access capital for their business. That is a really strong, strong unit for us. And the work that those folks do is really excellent. Our director of that unit is Ken vet chart. And he is very much involved in our community, with our chambers, with local with EDCO, with local businesses to ensure that we are a partner in in not only workforce development, but economic development of our region.

Michael Sipe  17:20  
That segues into a topic that's really important to me, and that is childcare. We have a critical shortage of safe and affordable childcare in Central Oregon. Indeed, around Oregon, there are about 30,000 kids that there's no space for, for childcare. And at COC, you're doing something about that, in partnership with neighbor impact. So give us some insights into this innovative program.

Unknown Speaker  17:45  
Yeah, we're really, really proud to be able to partner with neighbor impact on an early childhood education business accelerator program. And our program was launched in October of 2021. really grateful to Deschutes. County for the ARPA funds that they allocated to to fund this program. And what the program does is that it trails, people who want to open home based childcare businesses to do that work. And the SBDC really focuses on the business elements of doing that work, and neighbor impact with their expertise focuses on the childcare aspects of that work. So together, we put together a whole fairly short term package for folks who want to open these businesses, which we know we have an incredible shortage on. So just since October 2021, we've had 32 Students complete that program successfully. 18 of those folks have gotten grants to help with the startup of their business, over 150 childcare slots, new childcare slots, and been created in Central Oregon. And so we're not done yet. We're working to deploy this model at other community college SBDCs and we're launching in February of 23. A commercial early childhood education business accelerator for those who don't just want to do home based care, but who want to own and operate their own facility. We, you know, we think this is a great way for COC to be part of a solution to the childcare challenge in our region. Our our mission, our work is education. And so to be part of the the educational pipeline to train these new workers, really, you know, it meets an important need, and it it's just part of the missions part of what we do here at the college. So we're so happy for this partnership.

Michael Sipe  20:36  
This is super exciting. As you know, I've got a lot of background in childcare, and I have a bill in work that I plan to work on as a state representative and Salem to solve the childcare problem. And I know we can do it, and this partnership with you and neighbor impact and perhaps other community colleges and SBDCs. And, and services across the state can really tie into a collaborative program to really go after this fast. So I'm super excited about this. And congratulations on going after a real solution for something that's a huge problem for poor families and a huge problem for businesses. So good job, good job.

Unknown Speaker  21:18  
Well, you know, it's, you know, in Central Oregon, it's all about partnership. And we couldn't do this without ARPA funds we couldn't do it with without the support of a lot of people who come before us trying to solve this childcare challenge. Folks, like neighbor impact who've been in this business for years. So we're just happy to be able to do our a little bit of our part. And I think the results have really been quite impressive.

Michael Sipe  21:50  
It's outstanding. So good job. Wendy, as we wrap up here, Laurie, it's been been great to be in conversation with you. But what else would you like our listeners to know about CSEC? Maybe a final takeaway or two or just a final word for us?

Unknown Speaker  22:05  
Well, you know, I I sometimes I say I say it this way I use this phrase about COC, we're always open. We're always open in some fashion or another. We have robust offerings of all kinds of courses and programs, from transfer to personal enrichment, to career and technical education, to help for your business to help for you as a as an employee looking to upskill. And so we encourage folks to if they have educational needs, if they have workforce development needs, if you're an employee, if you're a student right out of high school, or if you're an employer, please contact us check us out and see what we can do to help you meet your goals. And when I say we're always open for business, it's not just about the breadth of our programming, but it's the fact that we offer it in so many different and creative ways, including face to face instruction, of course, including a lot of online offerings, and really every combination of face to face, and remote that you can imagine, many different times many different places. So we really take the community college mission of access really seriously. So we're always open for business.

Michael Sipe  23:52  
Laurie, it's been great having you on the show, I got a couple of takeaways, of course, I'm super excited about the childcare prospects in the opportunity to be able to solve this across the state. But but my my takeaway phrase is democracy's college. Yeah, she's college. What a neat concept and a neat way to look at it. So I really appreciate your time and your message today.

Unknown Speaker  24:16  
Oh, well, I appreciate your invitation. It's been a pleasure to meet you. And I think there's a lot of good things coming for childcare in Central Oregon. And I'm looking forward to hopefully both of us being a part of those.

Michael Sipe  24:31  
Well, thanks. My guest for this show has been Dr. Laurie Chesley president of COC See you can find out more about her and about the college at co That ca Thanks for tuning in.

Narrator  24:47  
Thanks for listening to cascade views with Michael SIPE to find out more about Mike the upcoming election. The key issues he's focused on in his campaign to represent Central Oregon and Salem as a state representative To visit WWW dot a voice for Central that's www dot voice for Central You can get your own copy of Michael sites best selling book the Avada And finally, please vote in the upcoming election. Your Voice Matters