- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

BEND, Ore. (AP) - At first, Lily Gunter didn’t realize she would be part of the first freshman class at OSU-Cascades. She had applied primarily because it was the only university she could attend and keep living at home in La Pine.

The historic relevance hit her later.

“It’s kind of a big deal,” Gunter, 19, said this week.

Heading into finals week, members of OSU-Cascades’ first freshman class say it wasn’t so weird going to a brand-new four-year program on a community college campus. Local students said they wanted a four-year school that would let them stay close to home, and many liked classes so small professors actually knew their names.

Camron Fritz, 19, graduated from Trinity Lutheran High School in Bend. He said staying local meant he had more time to concentrate on school, instead of finding his way on a giant campus like Oregon State University in Corvallis.

“I really like the idea of expanding and have Bend become a college town,” he said, adding this year he got to have a say in what that new campus will look like. “Not many people get to experience that, being on the verge of a new campus.”

But being so new does comes with some cons. Lydia Leonardi, 18, came from Portland and said her friends back home don’t understand where she is - it’s OSU? But you’re not in Corvallis?

And while Cascades offered freshman-level courses for the first time this year, it started small; students had to fill out their schedules with classes at Central Oregon Community College. Kali Chaplin, 19, of Bend, said she was wait-listed for some classes and ended up with ones she didn’t like this term.

“It was more what’s available,” she said.

Nancy Johnson, 18, will transfer to the Corvallis campus in the fall because Cascades doesn’t have the major she wants, which is bioengineering. She graduated from Summit High School in Bend and lived at home this year.

“I was still figuring out what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to leave (home) without knowing, but now I do,” she said.

Students interviewed said they’re excited to see the new campus, now under in southwest Bend, but they have some reservations.

Chaplin is worried about the limited amount of parking there, and Gunter thinks it will be a pain going back and forth between the new campus and COCC, where many will continue taking classes, about 3 miles apart.

“I’m sure it’s good for the campus, but for me it’s an inconvenience,” Gunter said.

The second freshman class?

Cascades officials had set a goal of having 100 freshmen in this first year. They got 60; 52 are still enrolled.

Many arrived on campus unaware of the controversy over where in Bend to put the new campus, or the legal challenges that delayed construction. But officials say that delay hurt their recruiting, and while construction continues, some prospective students are staying away.

“I would say this year was a little tougher than we thought, because the campus wasn’t open yet,” said Jane Reynolds, director of enrollment services. Visitors couldn’t tour the new campus during a preview day in March, she said, and orientation this summer will be at Cascades Hall on the COCC campus.

Classes will be held on the new campus this fall, but the dorm and dining hall won’t be done until early 2017. Students will spend the fall term living in the old Juniper Hall at COCC.

“For some students, that’s a grand adventure, and for some, they’re concerned about that,” said Reynolds, who predicted another freshman class of fewer than 100 to arrive this fall.

Another challenge: Oregon Promise, a new state grant program designed to cover community college tuition for recent high school graduates, which Reynolds said could inspire more students to start at community college and later transfer to four-year schools.

Still, she noted, freshman applications are up 13 percent compared to this time last year, and deposits from incoming freshmen are up 20 percent.

Next year, OSU-Cascades will have a full-time director of admissions whose job will be to ramp up recruiting: By 2025, officials want to see 3,000 to 5,000 on campus.

By then, the first freshman class will be in the history books.

___

Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com


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