A year ago the unthinkable happened on our campus, our place of work and where we take pride in educating the citizens of Douglas County. Each person on campus has spent the last year figuring out new ways of doing what they love: providing educational opportunities for our current and future students.

The eyes of the world focused on UCC last October 1st. Our college community sustained a terrible tragedy that day and it felt like all of Douglas County came out to support us that evening at Stewart Park IN Roseburg. The campus closed for a week while our people took care of themselves and regrouped. But after that week, we were back here serving the community. Each member of the UCC community has taken a different path and we are still in our process of recovery.

I joined UCC in mid-October to become the public information officer for the college and handle the responsibility of both internal and external communication. Our campus was faced with an onslaught of requests for information from media such as CNN, ABC, Al Jazeera and most of the statewide outlets. I was responsible for fielding these requests, as well as working with the president on internal communication for our staff and faculty.

In times of crisis, it is critical to over-communicate and ensure our internal audience knows as much as possible before outside audiences do. But the speed of communication and pressure for information from the outside quickly became a constant challenge. In order to manage it, my work throughout the past year has focused more on internal communication to create a smooth transition through three presidents.

A very visible change in our communication was our shift away from the “I am UCC” campaign, which had been intrinsically linked to the events of Oct. 1. We moved to a new campaign of “See Yourself Here” to reflect the enormous educational opportunities our campus provides for our community. The campaign and its visual representation reflect the campus today: a lovely place where our community attains their educational goals.

Despite my outside-looking-in starting place, I quickly became a part of the college community and transitioned into a passionate advocate for this amazing educational institution. The job quickly became personal, as I understood more about the resiliency, compassion and fortitude of the people I worked with. This bond is so strong that I’m still here one year later; changed immensely by the incredible people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work alongside.

Each person on this campus has played an important role in our recovery process. I could spend hours mentioning all the people who have forever changed my perspective on what it means to come to the aid of others and remain positive, but will name just a few. Dr. Rita Cavin was my first president at UCC. Her leadership and “can-do” approach to any task left a lasting impression on me in my work. Jess Miller, our facilities director, has remained just as calm, capable and caring of everyone on campus as he was a year ago. John Blackwood, our current faculty president and CIS teacher, is a consistent presence in the lives of his students, always checking in to ensure they are on track and taking care of themselves. Our Board of Trustees members have taken on every challenge that came its way with grace and composure. And finally, a very visible presence in the lives of new students on campus: Cathy Chapman with enrollment serves, welcomes all students and visitors to our campus each day with a kind word and a smile to cheer them on.

These individuals are representative of the extraordinary team at UCC, but that doesn’t mean others haven’t left a lasting impression. Through every facet of my work, I am consistently amazed to see so many people who are so willing to do whatever it takes to come to work every day and serve our students and community.

While the impetus for our recovery came from a place of darkness, the past year’s change has brought Douglas County together in some truly illuminating ways. UCC is beyond appreciative of everything this community has done to support our recovery efforts, and we are forever changed by the love and care given to us by the community.

Anne Marie Levis is the president of Funk/Levis & Associates in Eugene and has been the interim public information officer for UCC since mid October 2015.

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