Salem needs to realize rural-urban differences in colleges

By on Thursday, October 12th, 2023 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

PENDLETON – Blue Mountain Community College President Mark Browning said the biggest hurdle the state’s community colleges face with state legislators is their refusal to realize that what might apply in Portland, doesn’t work in rural areas.

“Rural has value,” he said. “We not only feed y’all, but were’ storing all your pictures from Instagram and the cloud out here, so let’s talk turkey.”

Browning said the majority of Oregon’s community colleges are in rural areas and it’s time Salem realized the needs of those institutions.

“Our students are very much part time,” he said. “They’re doing other things. They’re working. They have lives and their balancing school around that, so our operation needs to be different.”

He said lawmakers need to learn to recognize and embrace the difference.

“Let’s start looking at the strengths that we bring,” he said. “One size does not fit all. It just doesn’t.”