EOU enrollment, retraining pay dividends
The Eastern Oregon University enrollment gains and retraining initiatives provide hope in an uncertain time.
EOU’s commitment to excellence is paying dividends. Reaching 4,000 enrollment by the end of fall term, an almost 9 percent increase over a year earlier and the largest in its 81-year history, is a tribute to everyone associated with the university, but most notably to the recruiting work of the admissions office. The enrollment gains show that there is good access to higher education. It also reinforces the idea that more people are going back to school, and staying in school, because of the recession. The enrollment gain is a tribute to EOU being a human-scale school, not a factory outlet, with a smaller student-to-teacher ratio that implies more learning opportunities.
With joblessness hovering at around 10 percent, the new certificate programs available at EOU are more critical than ever. The initiative is giving laid- off workers a new sense of economic empowerment and a means to unlock talents perhaps previously undiscovered. Giving laid-off workers retraining opportunities in high demand careers like web design, health care and computer programming gives the workers hope that when one job ends, life doesn’t have to end with it. Such retraining can reveal to students their capabilities — and their place in a changing, dynamic workforce.
These displaced workers want to get beyond a minimum wage future, not that there is anything wrong with minimum wage jobs. When trying to support a family, however, adequate pay is crucial to reaching economic self-sufficiency. A quality education can mean economic opportunity.
More people are choosing higher education, whether for the first time or as a continuing part of their development, as an investment in the future. EOU should continue its efforts. The university should expand educational opportunities as it plays a key role in providing not just hope but real opportunities for the region’s future.