CORVALLIS - Oregon State University will host a dual enrollment summit May 2-3 on campus that will examine innovative partnerships between two- and four-year institutions - and OSU will sign new dual enrollment agreements with four Oregon community colleges.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski will attend the signing ceremony to show support for collaboration between Oregon's universities and community colleges. It will run from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, May 3, at the CH2M-Hill Alumni Center at OSU.
OSU will sign agreements with Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham; Tillamook Bay Community College, Tillamook; Oregon Coast Community College, Newport; and Columbia Gorge Community College, The Dalles. This brings to nine the total agreements the university has in its award-winning dual enrollment program.
"This kind of dual enrollment program, through which students may concurrently enroll at a two-year institution and Oregon State University, is a wonderful example of eliminating barriers and improving access to post-secondary education in Oregon," Kulongoski said.
About 125 educators and administrators from community colleges and universities in Oregon and outside the state are expected for the dual enrollment summit. Breakout sessions will examine issues ranging from how to improve program articulation and data-sharing systems among partner institutions, to helping students with financial aid, advising and registration.
OSU's dual enrollment program is being touted as a national model and Bob Bontrager, the university's assistant provost for enrollment management, is often called by other universities for details. Last year, Oregon State received an Innovative Program Award for its dual enrollment program from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
Bontrager said that OSU's philosophy is to engage in a full partnership with community colleges.
"When we first started the program, there admittedly was some tension," he said. "There was some wariness that we were going to control the program to suit OSU's interests. But once we sit down at the table, it turns out that we both have the same ultimate goal - to do what is best for the students. That tends to defuse all disagreements."
OSU's dual enrollment program differs from many "co-admission" programs developed by other institutions, which offer students what amounts to a traditional transfer opportunity in a slightly repackaged form. Oregon State's program, on the other hand, has one application, one fee system, facilitated financial aid, and the flexibility to take courses at either - or both - institutions at the same time.
"In this program, you really are an Oregon State University student - even when you're enrolled exclusively at the community college during a given term," Bontrager said.
Since the program's inception in 1998, it has grown steadily. Today OSU has dual enrollment agreements with nine Oregon community colleges and plans to complete agreements with the eight remaining community colleges in the next two years. More than 2,200 students enrolled at OSU through the program last fall - many (1,554) from nearby Linn-Benton Community College. But OSU also had 146 students dual-enroll through Portland Community College this fall, and another 30 from Chemeketa Community College in Salem, which just signed a partnership agreement last spring.
OSU is expanding its distance education programs to accommodate more dual enrollment students from community colleges located farther from Corvallis.
"The program is continually growing," Bontrager said. "Research has shown that community college students expressing the desire to complete a four-year degree - and then actually doing it - is quite low, roughly 30 percent. It traditionally has been a leaky educational pipeline for a four-year degree. Our program is designed to plug some of that leak."
Geography is becoming less of an impediment to dual enrollment, said Blake Vawter, OSU's assistant director of admissions.
"Online courses are growing in popularity and they offer an excellent opportunity for students in our dual enrollment program to expand their opportunities," he said. "It's a two-way street. Certainly, we have a lot of students from community colleges attending OSU, but we also have quite a few students who take a course or two at LBCC or another institution because it's offered at a more convenient time, or it's closer to home."
Also attending the May 3 signing ceremony will be Ed Ray, OSU president; George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the Oregon University System; Ralph Orr, president of Tillamook Bay Community College; Patrick O'Connor, president of Oregon Coast Community College; Robert Silverman, president of Mt. Hood Community College; and Frank Toda, president of Columbia Gorge Community College.
Pernsteiner and Ray are featured speakers at a luncheon following the ceremony from noon to 1:30 p.m.