This is not an exit

Dudley visits LCC campus

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 8:48 pm

LCC President Mary Spilde explains the college's downtown campus plans to Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley as Board of Education chair Tony McCowan (right) engages Dudley's wife -- also a Chris -- and board member Pat Albright (left) listens in.

“That’s either Chris Dudley’s bus or somebody really likes him,” said LCC dental hygiene student Marie Madison when she spotted the bright red and blue campaign bus on Thursday.

Five days before giving Oregon Governor-elect John Kitzhaber a run for his money, Dudley toured Lane Community College’s main campus with college president Mary Spilde, student body president Mario Parker-Milligan and board members Pat Albright and Tony McCowan among others.

“It was an opportunity for us to give him information about community college students,” Parker-Milligan said.

As Spilde led the gubernatorial hopeful through the college’s new Health and Wellness Center and Building 1, Dudley inquired about LCC’s past, present and future.

The nearly 7-foot-tall former Portland Trailblazer towered over his hosts as he stepped into Building 1, crouching slightly as he entered the glass double doors. Once inside,  he was briefed on the college’s increase in enrollment and a surge in the demand for financial aid.

Spilde and McCowan then led Dudley to the student government offices, where he was met warmly by senators and administrators.

“What are you going to do to protect student interests?”

“How will you make sure our voices are heard in Salem?”

Dudley listened intently as students told their stories and implored him to remember them if he were to win. He was then handed a green “Vote OR Vote” t-shirt by Oregon Student Association campus organizer Phil Shilts.

After the meet and greet in the student government offices, Dudley was led into an empty classroom where Spilde would brief him on the college’s current situation.

She spoke about a decrease in state support for the college — down from approximately 50 percent of the general fund in 2005 to about 40 percent now — and the rising cost of tuition since she took the helm as president.

When Spilde took the job in 2001, students paid $38 per credit hour. The current rate is $83 per credit hour.

“Students have had to step up and fill in the gap,” she said.

Spilde referred not only to increases in tuition, but increasing student fees and diminishing resources.

Conversation soon turned to the college’s newest offerings in the recently opened Health and Wellness Center.

“If you’re going to find a family-wage job in Oregon, where do you go? Health occupations,” Spilde said.

After discussing a few more college operations, the topic turned to the state’s budget woes and recent public contention regarding the Public Employees Retirement System and government employee salaries.

“We’re facing some tough times, but we will not demonize state workers,” Dudley said.

The tour then moved on to the Health and Wellness Center where Dudley walked through one of the new simulation classrooms.

“Wow,” Dudley said as he walked past a hospital bed. “This is impressive.”

The tour wrapped up near the entrance to the building, where Madison — the student who spotted Dudley’s bus — and fellow dental hygiene student Kirsty Wenrick greeted Dudley.

“I knew he was tall, but I didn’t expect him to be teddy bear-ish,” Wenrick said. “It’s nice that he’s so interested in where we’re from and what we’re doing.”


Dudley stands inside "The Living Circle," a piece of art stationed near the entrance to LCC's Health and Wellness Center. The gubernatorial hopeful visited the college's main campus five days before Election Day.

This story originally appeared in The Torch and is reprinted with permission.

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