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June 22, 2014
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Editorial: UCC charts sounder course to get health building

This time, Umpqua Community College’s campaign to raise money for a health, nursing and science center has the whiff of victory.

Two years ago, UCC’s bond request turned out to be a stinker; 71 percent of the voters can’t be wrong.

UCC has regrouped and is setting a more plodding, but surer, course to building up its campus.

UCC had too many priorities in 2012. The bond proposal, which included money for a health building among other things, was too muddied.

The college overreached, asking for too much for too many things, and muffed explaining why it needed any of it.

The college now has a clearer vision — build something for health, nursing and science classes. Period.

It also helps that UCC isn’t proposing a tax increase and that it’s made an effort to engage the community, particularly by offering free tuition to recent Douglas County high school graduates with high grades.

The clarity and engagement should help UCC achieve its fundraising goal — donor by donor.

It won’t be easy, however. It’s a lot of money, and time is short.

The school must raise $8.5 million from private sources to match the amount state lawmakers have put on the table for a $17 million building.

The college may have only seven full months because the state’s offer to split costs is due to expire in February. As long as the college is making progress, however, lawmakers should extend the deadline.

There’s reason to be optimistic that an extension won’t be necessary.

In the months ahead, college administrators and supporters likely will buttonhole people they know and ask for contributions.

Douglas County lawyer Danny Lang has set an impressive example by pledging to contribute $100,000 for every $1 million raised by the college. Lang, who contributed $800,000 to the Southern Oregon Wine Institute that now bears his name, speaks enthusiastically about community colleges as poverty fighters. The enthusiasm could be contagious among Douglas County residents who, like Lang, have done well.

While Lang sets an example for individual donors, Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg has set an example for health care providers and institutional donors.

The hospital has pledged $100,000, a clear indication Mercy considers UCC’s programs a source of future workers.

Also, the support shows that UCC’s programs complement Mercy’s own ambitions to build a medical college in Roseburg.

UCC’s programs are aimed at underclassmen — freshmen and sophomores. Mercy envisions a college that teaches the health care equivalent of juniors, seniors and graduate students.

If UCC gets its health building and the medical college actually happens, Roseburg would have firmly in place a new industry — training health care workers.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. UCC needs to concentrate on the job at hand and sniff out the money.

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The News-Review Updated Jun 23, 2014 03:01PM Published Jun 30, 2014 11:30AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.