October 17, 2016

COCC awarded funding, announces Central Oregon Symphony 50th season

From Central Oregon Community College,

Spokesman file
Central Oregon Community College has been awarded a five-year $2.25 million U.S. Department of Education Title III grant to increase the number of students successfully transitioning from developmental to college-level math and writing as well as increase the first-to-second term and first-to-second year retention rates of students.

In support of increasing student success rates in developmental math and writing classes, the grant will be used to conduct a comprehensive review of developmental level math and writing courses; develop, pilot and implement best practice strategies in writing and math, including smaller class sizes and shorter course sequences for students pursuing non-STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers; and implement culturally responsive strategies to better address the needs of Native American and Latino learners. Additionally, faculty will engage in specialized training on best practices in addressing the needs of students at pre-college levels. 

“Oregon is 46th in the nation for funding of its community colleges,” said Betsy Julian, vice president for instruction and co-coordinator for the grant. “Because of this limited funding, our faculty have been hampered in moving forward on long-held goals for improving student success rates in developmental coursework. 

“This grant provides the resources needed to make the critical changes needed for our students,” Julian said. “Moreover, nearly 85 percent of new COCC students test into developmental levels in writing or math. With so many students starting at these levels, this grant provides the college with the resources needed to make meaningful changes.” 

In addition to improving student success rates in developmental courses, COCC will use a portion of the grant to develop a comprehensive and cohesive first-year experience (FYE) program for its students. 

“The groundwork for an FYE program was done through a campus wide task force two years ago,” said Alicia Moore, dean of student and enrollment services and grant co-coordinator. “This group recommended pursuing an FYE program which includes academic advising, new student orientation and student success classes that are focused on the skills needed to be successful early in a student’s academic career. Doing so builds a solid foundation for long-term success.”

Grant dollars will also be used to implement a technology-based tool that will allow students to building a long-range class schedule; expand writing, math and student success courses at all four of its campus; and pilot a student success course taught in Spanish.

“Title III grants are considered a ‘strengthening institutions grant,’” said Shirley Metcalf, president of COCC. “As such, the grants are intended to provide resource infrastructure to move the institution in a positive direction that they might not otherwise achieve.

“Such support from a federal level is key to institutions being able to make significant strides in improving student success rates. I am proud of the work COCC already does and thrilled that this grant provides the opportunity to make even more positive changes for our students and community.”

Title III grants help institutions expand capacity to serve and improve student success rates for low-income students by focusing on academic quality, institutional infrastructure and fiscal stability. A reflection of the greater Central Oregon community, 65 percent of COCC students receive federal Pell Grants, with a majority of students working part- or full-time. “Research indicates that students who struggle financially are more likely to drop out of college and often do not have the personal supports to continue their education,” said Moore. “Having grant dollars which focus on foundational courses and skills will make a significant difference in a student’s success, especially for those with high financial need. 


The Central Oregon Symphony, directed by Michael Gesme, will present the first concert of its 50th season at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22; and Monday, Oct. 24; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, in the Bend High School Auditorium. Doors will open 45 minutes before the performances. Tickets are required for these free concerts.

“This is a special anniversary season that is jam-packed with events and concerts highlighting the rich history of the COS,” said Gesme. “It was my request that we bring back some of the audience and the symphony’s favorite guest artists from the past two decades.”

The high-energy Portland group, “3 Leg Torso,” is the first guest of the season, and they will kick off the season in their typical raucous fashion. The Oregonian described 3 Leg Torso as “a success in the fluid netherworld between serious art and popular culture.”

The ensemble appeared with the COS five years ago and resulted in an attendance record for a single concert weekend. “There was no question that we wanted to have them back,” said Gesme. “They have a loyal following in the Northwest, and when they perform with a live orchestra backing them, the whole concert experience is invigorating and transforming.”

The program will open with a suite of ballet music from French composer Massenet’s 1885 opera, “Le Cid.” The music consists of a string of seven short Spanish dances of widely varying character. Many listeners will recognize the tunes, but not be able to place them or know where they have heard them before, commented Gesme.

The concert finale will be the ever-popular “Polovtsian Dances,” drawn from Russian nationalist composer Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor.” The work is a tour de force for the whole orchestra with distinct features for every section. Beautiful and lyrical melodies (which some will recognize from the Broadway musical “Kismet”) juxtaposed and coupled with driving rhythmic intensity make this piece a perennial favorite for the audience and orchestra alike, according to Gesme.

All COS donors receive their tickets in the mail prior to the concerts, (visitcosymphony.com for information about becoming a COS donor) and a limited number of complimentary tickets are available online, on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that tickets are no longer available at local business outlets.

To reserve your complimentary tickets, please visit the symphony website, up to two weeks prior to the concert, and register for e-tickets. The tickets will be emailed and can be printed to bring to the concert. If you have any questions or experience difficulties, please contact the COSA office at 541-317-3941 or http://www.cosymphony.com.

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