By Travis Loose
On March 27, Chemeketa’s Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of a $6 per credit hour tuition increase to begin at the start of summer term, 2013.
Chemeketa’s administration recommended that the board approve the increase because of growing statewide pressures to achieve Oregon’s 40/40/20 goal.
The 40/40/20 goal is a result of the 2011 Oregon Legislature’s Senate Bill 253.
The bill states that by 2025, 40 percent of adult Oregonians will have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, 40 percent will have earned an associate’s degree or post-secondary credential, and 20 percent or fewer adults will have earned a high school diploma or GED.
Patrick Lanning, the college’s chief academic officer and president of Chemeketa’s Yamhill Vally Campus, said, “The Governor’s 40/40/20 goal is being seen nationally as the biggest aspiration for any state. The only way I can really see Oregon achieving that goal is to make major investments in K-12, colleges, and universities.”
As a result, Chemeketa’s administration recognized the need to increase and improve the services that are offered through the college so that graduation rates will meet those state goals.
Greg Harris, the college’s dean of marketing, said, “In order to accomplish [this goal], more resources need to be applied to the systems, the services, and the technologies that help students to accomplish that.
“However, the state doesn’t seem to be willing to provide us with the funding to provide students with those systems, those services, or those technologies. So, we have to look for alternate revenue sources.
“Unfortunately, the only one we have any control over is the fee we charge for bettering education.”
Cheryl Roberts, Chemeketa’s president, said, “Why we’re doing this is really based around student success — helping all the students that pay their good money every quarter to have the services and the classes they need in place to support them. … It was about investments.
“We’re looking at over a million dollars of investment into our students. That’s huge.”
What the investments will be, exactly, remains a looming question.
Roberts cited budget laws as the reason for the lack of specifics.
“Some of this cannot be revealed until April, when we bring it before the budget committee, because they have to be the first people to read it,” Roberts said. “We haven’t even told our board because they’re part of the budget committee.”
Lanning provided some additional insight as to what students can expect.
“The tuition and fee increase will support some faculty positions where we’ve been spread thin, or areas that have seen significant enrollment increases. We are also looking at staff investments in areas that directly support students in classes/labs and areas like advising,” he said.
“The investment in technology will also provide students, faculty, and staff better access to student information and allow students to get their own information, like degree progression, without needing to wait in line.”
Chemeketa officials agreed that students would be excited about the investments that their tuition increase would provide, whatever they may actually be.
“The Academic and Student Services areas have always focused on student success. This increase won’t cover all the needs, but it will make a difference. We are fortunate at Chemeketa to have a dedicated faculty and staff,” Lanning said.