Summer has come to an end, and as a new school year has begun, Lane Community College prepares big plans for its future. Working closely with the community, LCC says that new innovations and renovations are occurring under a new program to better prepare students for life after school.
As she heads into her second school year, Dr. Stephanie Bulger, president of LCC, provided insight to what is new on campus, including the Lane Workforce Partnership, in recent interviews with Eugene Weekly.
LCC has created a Workforce Development Division to develop skills for the local workforce. The departments include career pathways, cooperative education, culinary arts, extended learning, high school connections and specialized support systems. Each department houses opportunities specific to the skills needed such as training for internships, professional development, earning college credit while in high school and more.
As part of preparing students for the future, a statewide project — Pathways to Opportunities (PTO) — is designed to increase access to education, training and economic mobility. The initiative encourages inter-agency collaboration of service funds to increase resources and services to support those who face financial barriers in education. Higher education can come at a high cost, and LCC says it provides opportunities for scholarships and other opportunities to combat financial hardship.
“Our working vision for the future of Lane Community College is to position it to be the workforce hub of Lane County,” Bulger says. “What that means to us is that it’s not just career and technical education, but it also means that if you leave us and go to the University of Oregon, or any other fantastic university, you can come back to us for upskilling and rescaling throughout your lifetime.”
Connecting with peers, faculty, alumni and professionals in different fields is part of what college is all about. Bulger says that LCC awaits launching Handshake, a robust alumni network for that very reason. Taking just one course allows students to be a part of the program. Students and alumni will be able to make an account and portfolio similar to LinkedIn. It’s a way to explore career options, search for jobs and network.
For the first time, LCC will offer a bachelor of applied science (BAS) in Applied Business Management in fall of 2024. The Oregon Legislature approved the degree, making LCC one of three community colleges out of 17 in the state to be able to offer the program, Bulger says. This new degree allows students to build towards a business career and opens the doors for more opportunities within the institution.
A $121.5 million bond passed by voters in 2020 led to two new groundbreaking buildings being built on campus. The first is a health professions building. If students are interested in a medical assisting dental hygiene program and working alongside a clinic, then this is the place to be. Those heading down the path to become an EMT will also be able to study in that building. The other is called Industry Trades Education Center, with high technology and trades. All things technological, including the drone program, which resides at the Aviation Academy at the Eugene Airport, will transfer to the new building. Numerous renovations are also underway, including the Florence Center, the Cottage Grove Center and more. Despite all the construction, LCC has a full course schedule for this new year for students.
With COVID-19, the institution struggled with student retention rate, like other schools. And though LCC had a declining enrollment in fall of 2021, it is now up about 10 percent. Part of the campaign to increase enrollment was to give former students who dropped out of LCC a “Welcome Back” scholarship. This scholarship is relatively small,up to $300, but Bulger says it’s meant to give any student with outstanding balances or financial troubles that kept them from coming back to school “a second chance at Lane.”
She says, “It’s a great way to start the year and not without a lot of effort.”
LCC continues to plan for improvements and developing the workforce program. Bulger says the school is looking internally for funds and working with the community. The LCC Foundation is involved with providing scholarships and helping to facilitate the management of the alumni network. “It’s going to look like a network sort of pulling together different aspects of the institution,” she says.
With the school year ahead, Bulger says she looks forward to the challenges and opportunities. “What gets me up in the morning all the time is how we move through these challenges and how we do that in a creative sort of way, impacting as few people as possible,” Bulger says, “and how we build and rebuild. That’s the excitement.”
More information with what’s new with LCC at LaneCC.edu/about-lane/newsroom