Community colleges are often thought of as academic stepping stones to a career or other institutions of higher education. According to Lane Community College Board of Education member and candidate for re-election to LCC’s Board Position 7 Lisa Fragala, the school’s support for its students shouldn’t start and end in the classroom.
If elected, Fragala says holistic student support will continue to be a top priority for her on the board.
Fragala has been serving on Lane Community College’s Board of Education for Zone 6 since 2018, and now she is running to represent the at-large Position 7 on the board.
Fragala went to LCC to get her teaching credentials. She was an elementary school educator for 25 years before she got involved with higher education as an LCC board member. She says her experience in the teaching world has positively impacted her experience working in higher-education administration by giving her good listening skills and the ability to work effectively with a variety of different people.
Fragala says her idea of an accessible higher education extends outside of the classroom. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way students do college, and she says it is vital that LCC must embrace an innovative and flexible approach to providing higher education to match this shift.
“I know as an educator of young children that we can’t just think about the academics, we have to think about the whole human,” Fragala says. “I believe that, at the community college level, we need to make investments in student services and their access to counseling and advising, and other services that help them to be successful.”
Community colleges should provide more than academic opportunities, Fragala says, they should also provide the services that keep students healthy and reduce economic barriers to their own education.
LCC’s Dental Hygiene program, for example, makes a huge impact on both ends: for the students participating in the program and the dental hygiene services the program provides to LCC students, Fragala says.
When Fragala first moved to Oregon, she says she took advantage of the dental care offered through LCC’s program. Fragala says the care she received helped ease the economic burden she was experiencing at the time.
“I was struggling to find a job and make ends meet, and I had not had very good dental care,” Fragala says. “I was able to go to the LCC dental hygiene clinic and get free dental care, and actually had a hygienist teach me how to really take care of my teeth for the first time.”
LCC’s availability of hybrid courses and technologically modern workforce training in dental hygiene, nursing and manufacturing programs are crucial to meet the demands of the workforce needs of Lane County, and the changing needs of LCC students, Fragala says.
“We know women lost decades of earning capacity during the pandemic, and are now trying to figure out how to come back into the workforce by doing job training,” Fragala says.
Fragala has been endorsed by the six other LCC board members, U.S. Congresswoman Val Hoyle, state Sens. James Manning Jr. and Floyd Prozanski, state Representatives Julie Fahey and John Lively, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, Eugene City Councilors Greg Evans, Randy Groves and Matt Keating, and interim Eugene City Councilor Lyndsie Leech, among others.
Fragala has also been endorsed by a number of organizations and associations, including the Lane Community College Education Association, the Democratic Party of Lane County, IBEW Local 280, Lane, Coos, Curry, Douglas Building Trades, Lane Community College Employee Federation and Planned Parenthood, among others.
On her campaign website, Fragala says access to a vibrant education system is crucial for the health of the community.
Fragala is running on a platform of embracing innovation at LCC, ensuring student success and bolstering regional economic vitality.
“Expanding technology, trades and health care programs that ensure these sectors of the economy have the trained professionals needed and that make students career ready for local jobs,” Fragala says on her campaign website.
Creating local partnerships that promote student access to internships, trade-groups and companies has been an idea on the lips of other folks campaigning for LCC board memberships, including Zach Mulholland, Kevin Alltucker and Nick Skelton, who all said they saw how important of a role career technical programs are going to be to LCC in the coming years.
One thing Fragala has shown commitment to in her campaign is aligning the college with Lane County’s and Eugene’s environmental sustainability initiatives.
“Championing a college sustainability plan to ensure that LCC is environmentally friendly and becomes a pioneer in reducing the carbon footprint of college campuses through the use of renewable energy and green projects” is another priority Fragala outlines in her campaign website as being crucial for ensuring student success at LCC.
LCC has faced a year-over-year decline in student population. Fragala’s commitment to student success, according to her campaign website, includes eliminating barriers to student enrollment and success to ensure the college is recruiting students from the broadest spectrum possible.
According to campaign finance website ORESTAR, Fragala has received considerable financial support from the people and organizations who have endorsed her.
IBEW Local 280’s PAC donated $5,000 to her campaign, the largest single campaign donation for any campaign on the 2023 LCC Board of Education docket. Other notable cash contributions include $5,000 from former Lane County Commission candidate Dawn Lesley and $1,500 from the Oregon Education Association, all of whom have also endorsed Fragala.
Kyle Reallon did not respond to Eugene Weekly’s request for an interview.
Reallon is a credit analyst, according to his candidate filing information, though he has no evidence of his occupation available outside of what is available on the internet. Reallon’s candidate filing form notes he attended the Lane Aviation Academy.
Reallon has not set up an ORESTAR account nor reported any contributions to his campaign so far. As of now, it is not clear if anyone endorses Reallon.
This story has been updated.