BAKER CITY A proposal to create a multi-university center in Baker City with a price tag of $17 million is under review by the governor’s office for possible consideration in the 2011 legislative session.
The Baker Higher Education Center would offer courses and use instructors from Blue Mountain Community College, Eastern Oregon University, Portland State University, Marylhurst University, Willamette University and Oregon Health & Science University. Supporters hope such a new center would attract students from around Oregon and from out of state, help drive economic development in the area, and keep home some of the 200 Baker County high school graduates who leave each year.
“The proposal has merit,” says James Sager, the governor’s adviser on education, workforce and revenue policy. “Clearly they have begun to do the work to demonstrate they need additional post-secondary education facilities in the area.”
The new facility would include four existing classrooms at the Baker Armory, an additional educational wing, two new campus buildings and a parking lot expansion. The old BMCC facility would be vacated and its functions moved to the expanded campus.
According to the proposal, authored by the Baker County Higher Education Expansion Committee, BMCC now serves just a fraction of the available market. A new facility could increase capacity to serve 1,700 local students.
“When we started, we only wanted to do two things: Get on the state’s list and get visibility in front of the governor,” says Jake Jacobs, manager of Baker Economic Development. “We’re not on the priority list, but at least we are in line.” ROBIN DOUSSARD
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