Presidents sign historic agreement for Southern Oregon higher education

MEDFORD, Ore. — “I think the consortium is… as if the four of us are getting married,” said Dr. Linda Schott, Southern Oregon University President. “We’re all going to work really hard to figure out how this relationship actually develops.”

The four presidents of higher education in Southern Oregon are coming together for the first time.

They’re joining together in what’s being called the “Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium,” an effort to strengthen the bond between SOU, Oregon Tech, Klamath, and Rogue Community Colleges.

“We know students falter trying to find their way through our complicated systems,” she said. “So, we want to create smoother pathways.”

Schott says they don’t have the details worked out just yet, but what it’s really about is doing the thinking for the students.

“You want to be in health care? well, you could start at this program at RCC or KCC.. and then you can finish it out at SOU,” Schott said.

Over at RCC, President Cathy Kemper-Pelle, is hoping the consortium gives the school a stronger voice especially up in Salem, where decisions that impact higher education in Oregon are really being made.

“We feel that sometimes we’re a little isolated from the majority of the community colleges that are located in the Northern part of the state…,” Pelle said.

Pelle says it’s about encouraging students to get a degree in higher education by showing students the four schools have the resources they need to jump-start their careers.

“They don’t need to leave the region to get a top-notch education,” said Pelle. “It’s available right here.”

The historic memorandum of understanding is something both presidents feel will last well into the future.

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