The new Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University Higher Education Center (HEC) in downtown Medford, is the first project of its kind in Oregon.
Inspired by Governor Ted Kulongoski, HEC is a collaborative effort between Rogue Community College (RCC) and Southern Oregon University (SOU) to help students transfer seamlessly from community college to the university.
When the project received a funding boost from the Oregon Legislature in 2005, Governor Kulongoski noted that several similar partnerships are evolving statewide but credited RCC and SOU with "seeing it first."
The 68,700-square-foot, three-story building was completed fall of 2008. Located in the block bound by East Eighth, Ninth and South Bartlett streets and South Riverside Avenue, the center includes classrooms, a lecture hall, science labs, computer labs, and offices. An atrium-style entryway at the main entrance welcomes students and visitors on the corner of Eighth and Bartlett. (Click here for a PDF of the site map.)
The new facility was designed by SERA Architects Inc. of Portland; the contract manager/general contractor is Adroit Construction Co., of Ashland. The concept involved faculty and staff from both RCC and SOU, planners from the city and the Medford Urban Renewal Agency (MURA), community members, and the mayor of Medford in which they developed the following shared goals:
"We both need adequate classroom space downtown," said RCC President Peter Angstadt, "and teaming up to build a shared building is a cost-effective way to achieve that. "The shared building also helps ease students' transfer from the community college to the university," he added.
"This project is crucial for the future of higher education in our region," said SOU President Mary Cullinan. "This building represents our investment in the future of Southern Oregon. Our higher education center will foster valuable community partnerships while helping us reach out to a broad array of students," Cullinan added.
Sharing one facility saves the two institutions on operating costs and avoids duplication of resources. It allows students to take lower division RCC courses and then make a more seamless transition to advanced SOU courses. Students also benefit by access to state-of-the-art labs and classrooms in a building designed for academic purposes. Currently RCC occupies several older commercial buildings in downtown Medford that were remodeled for instructional purposes, but not always with optimum results.
Security funding for the building was a top legislative priority for the Medford/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce in 2005, and it has received support from many other sectors of the community. Total cost of the project was $22.2 million, with each school contributing $11.1 million. RCC's share includes $4.1 million in state bonding authority, plus $7 million in local bonds approved by Jackson County voters in 2005. SOU's share includes $5.5 million in state bonding authority and $3 million in state funding, plus $2.6 million in locally raised matching funds. Click here for list of donors [PDF].