October 09, 2001 11:00 pm

One of the things that has made Eastern Oregon University distinctive over the past decade has been its distance-learning program.

Eastern has gained a good reputation for how it delivers education to students in its 10-county service area by offering classes in remote sites such as Burns or John Day. The idea is that if students are unable to come to La Grande for their coursework, Eastern will take its classes to a remote learning site through interactive television and have a professor periodically visit the students in their community.

The approach has won the applause and emulation of educators elsewhere in the nation. Its too bad, then, to see the Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing curtailing its Rural Frontier Delivery Program on the La Grande campus. The program is the victim of state-level funding cuts at OHSU.

Easterns nursing program is committed to allowing five senior and three junior nursing students to complete the rural program. But the interactive video approach will go by the wayside because of its cost, and the school of nursing might look at using video tapes to allow the current students to finish their programs. The interactive approach, of course, is superior because the rural students are able to ask questions and discuss topics with their professors on the EOU campus.

One of the reasons for the frontier programs demise is the fact that only 28 nursing students have graduated from it over the past nine years. Given the remoteness of many of these communities, every effort should be made to offer training to health care givers who are happy to live there. Many of the students graduating from the distance-learning program stay and work as nurses in their small communities.

The Rural Frontier Delivery Program has proven its value. Eastern has linked technology with instruction in a practical way to meet the needs of rural students. OHSU and Eastern should look for grants and other funding sources to allow the program to continue. Recruitment efforts could be stepped up to see if even a larger pool of students could be found in the outlying communities to enroll in the program.

It does not seem right to be cutting a valuable program when hospitals in the Northwest are eagerly looking for nursing graduates to fill their openings.


A while ago, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative gave customers coupons good for $6 off on the purchase of a high-efficiency light bulb. The program was well received.

The La Grande City Council last week authorized that speed bumps be installed on Division Avenue at Oak Street to slow traffic. La Grande motorists already have experience dealing with the abrupt jolt of speed bumps on 12th Street at Candy Cane Park. The city should follow OTECs lead and pass out coupons good for $12 off on a pair of shock absorbers.