Wine story No. 1 (copy)

Andy Swan, director of the Southern Oregon Wine Institute, talked about his program during an event in 2019 at the Umpqua Community College campus in Winchester. UCC is currently reviewing the program that has seen chronically low enrollment numbers.

WINCHESTER — Umpqua Community College is taking a closer look at its Southern Oregon Wine Institute, as well as the engineering and computer science programs, because those programs are chronically under-enrolled, according to President Debra Thatcher.

“When we’re looking at low-enrolled programs, our goal is not just to get rid of programs. Our goal is to boost them,” she said at Tuesday’s board of directors meeting. “If possible, make them stronger. But that will require some modification and sometimes elimination of some courses.”

The community college decided to reconfigure its automotive programs in May of this year. Instead of offering two-year programs, the college is working to create a one-year certificate program that would be more cost-efficient for the college.

College administrators will meet with an advisory committee for the wine institute Thursday to discuss options. A meeting has already taken place with an advisory committee for the engineering and computer science programs.

There will be a work session before the Dec. 9 board meeting to inform the board of possible next steps and available options for these programs.

Thatcher said there are additional programs on the list to be reviewed as well, but she was not prepared to share which programs at this time.

Other things that were discussed at the board meeting, included:

  • The board meeting started with a moment of silence for two UCC staff members who died this past week; UCC Career Coach Danna-May Blommer and Nursing Associate Professor Patrice Coate.
  • Thatcher introduced Dina Battaglia as the new Dean of Faculty Development. Battaglia is expected to hold a presentation to the board about her role in early 2021.
  • The board discussed the implementation of its COVID-19 plan and how it worked in practice when two students were diagnosed with COVID-19. Staff and students will be surveyed about the college’s response to the coronavirus in late November, early December.
  • The college is also working on a building closure plan because many buildings are empty or mostly empty since classes have moved online. Temporarily closing unused buildings will be a financial benefit to the college.
  • Classes will continue to be offered remotely but are not fully online. Remote classes are often synchronous learning experiences, while fully online courses are asynchronous and offer students to work at their own pace.
  • Georgann Willis received a grant to write a book for a Psychology 100 course that will be distributed throughout the state.
  • Umpqua Community College has received 17 applications for the position of president as of Tuesday. On Jan. 4, a search committee will start reviewing applications.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at or 541-957-4203.

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(3) comments


The people behind the decision making at UCC have always been moron. Reading stuff like this is no surprise to me. I had attended for 3 years starting in 2007 when they decided to make a lot of changes that made no sense, and seemed like a waste of money that could better be used somewhere else.

They decided they needed to make the bathrooms more handicap accessible. In order to do that the men's bathrooms typically consisted of two stalls and three urinals. So they took a toilet and wall out of one stall and just made it into a giant stall that was big enough for a wheel chair fit into. The problem in doing that which I saw quite often was you had someone that would be hogging the stall for several mins and someone else would come in and really needed to use it. The nearest bathroom was in the next wing of the campus several hundred feet apart. been a young adult I had no problem with walking fast, but that was a time when the economy dipped and many people lost their jobs, it was more uncommon to see older adults in 50+ age than teen/young adults attending that physically were not able to walk that far.

Next moronic decision, they had this giant concrete ramp leading to the bookstore and counseling center. For whatever reason they decided it was more efficient to change that into steps. Ironic that they decided they needed to be handicap accessible in one thing, and less in another. So now this made it less accessible to people that may not be able to go up and down stairs well especially when you had more older people attending than ever before, and you had to detour all the way around to get the door. Than they decided they needed to add yet ANOTHER fountain in that area when they already had like 20 I swear. The problem with this one was that the water drained out of a tacky PVC pipe sticking nearly 2 feet out that was clearly visible at the end of the steps. For the amount of money they spend on the landscaping you think someone would have noticed that? Guess not.

Towards the end of the school year when it was near graduation they decided they needed to do something that involved digging/tearing up half the campus with large construction vehicles. It was sure a nice scenery when they had things set up for the students graduating with half the campus torn up and large holes with construction equipment left everywhere. Get your picture taken next to the dump truck in your graduation hat and gown!

The college president at the time kept trying to ax the free tutoring program because he thought it was a waste of money despite the fact that for some students it made a difference with them passing or failing a class.

The next school year they decided to repave sections of the parking lot when the term has resumed near the fall, great idea when there was already limited parking to begin with! There were some students who literally just turned around and went home that week because there was literally nowhere to park, and if you parked on the side the road that was like a $400 ticket at the time.

I really do hope they get rid of that wine program though, at best all it did was a create a few useless min wage jobs. They'd be stupid to cut computer classes when thats a skill that your gonna need more probably with the direction the world is going right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they miss the logic behind it and keep something useless instead.


Too bad. The college was one of the reasons that we settled here in the first place, and I always enjoyed the campus, faculty, and students. It seems to be in a downward spiral, and I hope the board is able to reanimate it.

Forgiveness of student debt, increasing support for colleges, and developing infrastructure, along with the need for engineers and skilled workers are key.


The Southern Oregon Wine Institute has been a loser for the college from day one. It had become the biggest joke on campus among employees because the number of graduates from the program was so low. Engineering and computer classes are probably going to be cut, while the college has an obstacle course class. Really?

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