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Chemeketa student honored in national essay competition

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Chemeketa student honored in national essay competitionChemeketa Yamhill Valley student Rachel Shrock-Russell concludes her award-winning essay –

“To everyone else Deer Creek Park was a beautiful county park set in the hills, but to me it was my childhood. It’s where I was free; I learned how to be a true kid of nature. We may have grown up with very little extra money, but with the right imaginations and one amazingly beautiful country park we could have the time of our lives.”

The textbook publisher Pearson awarded Shrock-Russell third place in its national competition for students in developmental writing classes. Her Writing 90 instructor Samuel Snoek-Brown was instrumental to her success. “Doctor Sam urged me,” said Rachel, “and I thought maybe I can go a little further with my writing.”

In an e-mail Snoek-Brown described Rachel as a devoted student, “She holds lofty ideals of what good academics look like for her.”

Shrock-Russell labored through four drafts of her essay before submitting it to the competition. “A lot of it is Dr. Sam’s help,” she said. “He kept advising me to add more detail, ’What did you see there?’ he’d say.”

“My mom, brother Ryan, and I would drive through the hilly country side, singing to Aerosmith, heading to our favorite county park. We usually had our yellow lab Angel in the backseat with us, with her head hanging out of the window. We would drive over the old wooden bridge and turn into the parking area. We would barrel out of our old penny colored Buick, and go racing towards our favorite swimming spot.”

Shrock-Russell has a new adventure in her path. She has been accepted to Ithaca College in New York where she plans to major in psychology with a minor in writing or literature. “It’s a long way from McMinnville, but why not? This is my time, my chance.”

“When I think of my favorite place from when I was a child. It’s a place that is full of adventure, imagination, and new beginnings.”


Chemeketa accepts 546 scholars

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Chemeketa accepts 546 scholarsChemeketa Community College has awarded 546 Chemeketa Scholars scholarships for the 2015-16 academic year. The application period closed in March.

Chemeketa Scholars are high-achieving students who receive a full tuition scholarship for up to two years in any field of study, including career technical programs.

Chemeketa President Julie Huckestein says the scholars program is an investment that pays off for the community, “While the college foregoes tuition revenue, our Chemeketa Scholars program makes higher education possible for deserving students who are unable to afford tuition.”

Since Chemeketa Scholars first enrolled in 2008, over 2,000 students have attended Chemeketa tuition-free.  The scholarships are available to qualifying high school students, home-schooled students and military veterans who live or attended school in Chemeketa’s service district.

For more information, visit

Accreditation evaluators give Chemeketa six commendations, two recommendations

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Chemeketa Accreditors Give College Six Commendations, Two RecommendationsEvaluators from colleges around the Northwest completed their on-site assessment of Chemeketa Community College and praised the college in multiple areas of its instruction, services and operations.

Evaluation team chair Dr. Ryan Thomas extolled Chemeketa at a gathering of employees as their visit concluded on April 10. “You all work at an incredible college. It is incredible because of you.”

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” commented Chemeketa President Julie Huckestein.

Accreditation is a critical process for quality control in higher education. It is required for a college to award financial aid, transfer credits to other institutions and serve veterans.

Chemeketa received a letter on April 13 documenting the visitors’ findings. In it the evaluators’ commendations of Chemeketa included its service to students and communities, its commitment to the success of pre-college level students and its rigorous curriculum approval process.

They also recommended Chemeketa could do a better job of measuring indicators that track progress and publishing instructional program outcomes.

The nonprofit Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities conducts regular reviews of colleges and universities in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah.

The complete list of Chemeketa’s commendations and recommendations follows –


  1. The evaluation committee commends the college for its broadly shared commitment to serving students and communities throughout its service area. The main campus and outreach centers have established meaningful collaborations with community service providers that ensure that the campus is effectively meeting local educational needs.
  2. The evaluation committee commends the college for its well designed and beautifully maintained physical facilities on the main campus and at its outreach centers. The facilities complement the caring and supportive attitudes for students demonstrated by all of the campus units with which the evaluation committee has interacted during its visit.
  3. The evaluation committee commends the college for its proactive and consistent approach in navigating the challenging state budget situation during a time of leadership transition at the college. The college has come through this difficult time with adequate reserves while minimizing negative impacts on core programs and services (Standards 2.F.1, 2.F.2)
  4. The evaluation committee commends the college for its commitment to the success of pre-college level students. Its research-based, holistic, multi-strategy approach provides strong support for its ABS/ESOL students as they transition to pre-college or college. Its exemplary programs include alternative placement testing, mandatory and intrusive advising accelerated or contextualized courses, and tuition assistance for these important members of the student body.
  5. The evaluation committee commends the college on its rigorous curriculum approval process and for the support it provides to faculty through the Teaching and Learning Opportunity Center.
  6. The Evaluation Committee commends the college for providing student support services that are well aligned with the institution’s mission, core themes and strategic goals. The college has implemented a number of initiatives and strategies in recent years that demonstrate its firm commitment to student success. Student support services staff are dedicated, innovative and work in a collaborative manner to deliver programs and services. Students emphatically indicated to evaluators that the college provides a welcoming environment that promotes learning, diversity, and strong community engagement.


  1. The evaluation committee recommends that Chemeketa Community College review their indicators and their definition of mission fulfillment to ensure that–
    1. The measurements associated with the indicators provide information that can be used to make programmatic and budgetary decisions. (Standard 1.B.2)
    2. The definition of mission fulfillment maps clearly to the indicators and their associated measures (Standard 1.A.1)
  2. The evaluation committee recommends that Chemeketa Community College ensure that they have published program outcomes for each program and that their assessments of program and general education outcomes accurately and adequately reflect student learning. (Standards 2.C.1, 2.C.2, 2.C.3, 2.C.9, 2.C.10)

Soapbox Poetry presents “Vernum Poesis” April 6-June 1

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Journalism Instructor Bill Florence was eight years old when he found himself an audience member of a poetry reading by four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost.

Bill, whose inaugural Soapbox Poetry performance “Poems I learned While Mending a Wall in New England,” draws inspiration from this experience.

“The title references an experience I had traveling through New England, listening to Robert Frost recite some of his poems while sitting on a stone wall in Burlington, Vermont. I wish that I had a better recollection of the experience, but I did read a lot of Frost in the ensuing years.”

Soapbox Poetry, a series hosted by the English and Humanities department, features readings by faculty and staff from 12-12:20 pm in the Gretchen Schuette Art Gallery.

This term, Soapbox Poetry presents “Vernum Poesis” with readings by-

  • April 6- Steve Slemenda “Easter Monday: Post-Lenten Poems”
  • April 20- Bill Florence “Poems I learned While Mending a Wall in New England”
  • May 4- Donna Bernhisel “Find out why we call them animals”
  • May 18- Chrys Tobey “If only, If only, If only: longing in poetry”
  • June 1- Deborah Trousdale “Ut pictura poesis?”


Annual plant sale April 2-June 12

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

A succulentPlease join us for our annual plant sale, a fundraiser to support hands-on learning opportunities for Chemeketa’s Horticulture program. The plant sale will be held in the greenhouse at Chemeketa’s Salem campus Tuesday-Friday, April 2-June 12. (Bldg. 46 near the Brown lot)

An assortment of flowering baskets, succulent planters, shrubs, bedding plants, perennials and vegetable starts will be for sale.

In April, cool-crop vegetables will be available, including-

  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Swiss chard
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach

Starting in May, warm-crop vegetables will be for sale, including-

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Winter squash
  • Melons
  • Green beans
  • Peppers
  • Fresh herbs and spices

Community members are invited to attend and parking is reserved for plant sale customers; guests can follow signs to the red lot and park near the greenhouse.

Horticulture Program Plant Sale
April 2-June 12
9 am-3 pm
Sales outside these hours by appointment only

Special Sale Days
Plant sale located outside between the Bookstore and Building 2
9 am-3 pm on Wednesday, April 1 & 22, May 6 & 20 and June 3

For more information call 503.315.4586.

Chemeketa saves taxpayers millions in bond financing

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Chemeketa saves taxpayers millions

For the second time Chemeketa Community College has refinanced general obligation bonds for capital construction and saved property taxpayers millions of dollars. The college paid off $23,905,000 from bonds issued in 2011 with a bond purchased on March 10 at a lower interest rate.

Taxpayers will net a savings of $1.3 million on a present value basis and $2.2 million over the life of the loan.

Just last May, Chemeketa refinanced its original debt from 2008 to save taxpayers $2.3 million.

The college informed its Board of Education of the most recent refinancing at its Wednesday, March 18 meeting. The Board had authorized such a transaction at its January 21 meeting.

A majority of voters in Marion, Polk and Yamhill County supported assuming a property tax liability totaling $92 million when they approved a 2008 bond levy authorizing Chemeketa to construct  –

  • The new applied technology building opening in fall of 2015 on the Salem campus
  • The new welding building on the Salem campusThe addition to  Building 8 that houses our health science classroom complex on the Salem campus
  • The remodel to Building 4 to improve our electronics and visual communication programs on the Salem campus
  • The new life safety building at Chemeketa Brooks
  • The new building at the Chemeketa Yamhill Valley campus



By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Notice of budget committee meetingsA public meeting of the Budget Committee of Chemeketa Community College, Marion County, State of Oregon, to receive the budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 will be held at Chemeketa Community College, Building 2 Boardroom, 4000 Lancaster Drive NE, Salem.  The meeting will take place on the 8th day of April at 7:00 p.m.  The purpose is to receive the budget message and document of the district.  A copy of the budget document may be inspected on or after April 9, 2015 at the Chemeketa Community College Library, second floor of Building 9 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

An additional Budget Committee meeting will take place on April 15, 2014 at 4:30  p.m. to receive additional budget information, deliberate and take public  comment.  The meeting will be held at Chemeketa Community College, Building 2 Boardroom, 4000 Lancaster Drive NE, Salem.  This is a public meeting where deliberation of the Budget Committee will take place.  Any person may appear at the meeting and discuss the proposed programs with the Budget Committee.

Julie Huckestein
Budget Officer

Chemeketa partnering for area’s career tech future

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Chemeketa collaborates on career tech futureAs job prospects pick up some employers are finding it difficult to fill open positions. A State of Oregon Employment Department survey published March 25th found that job vacancies in the state increased 40% from 2013 to 2014 for a total of 45,402 openings. Employers reported that 51% of those openings were “difficult to fill.”

Chemeketa is determined to be part of the solution. President Julie Huckestein joined Salem-Keizer Public Schools Superintendent Christy Perry in a shared presentation at the State of Education Forum, Wednesday, April 1. The event was co-sponsored by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Salem Rotary Club and the Salem City Club. Huckestein and Perry teamed up to demonstrate to community leaders that, as the superintendent put it, “our gift to the Salem-Keizer community is how well we work together.”

Sometimes higher education is cast as being in competition with primary education because the Legislature has to make tough calls allocating limited funds to both systems. Huckestein had an opportunity to counter that perspective when she participated in an educational forum with Rep. Paul Evans at Chemeketa Eola the evening of March 31.

“I don’t think anyone should argue that one doesn’t deserve more (funding), because there hasn’t been enough for a long time,” she said. “We’re dealing with human beings and we’re dealing with a lot of the same issues they bring to the classroom every day.”

The two public education CEO’s showed the depth and breadth of their career technical offerings and how high school and post-secondary partnerships provide pathways to employment in high-growth industries.

Renee Couture featured in gallery March 31-May 5

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Renee Couture in art gallery

“When They Fall, They Always Make Noise”, a exhibit featuring the works of southern Oregon artist Renee Couture, will be on display at Chemeketa Community College’s Gretchen Schuette Art Gallery from March 31 to May 5.

An artist’s reception will be held on April 8 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., with an artist’s talk at 1:30 p.m.

Couture, who is a fine arts instructor at Umpqua Communtiy College in Roseburg, mixes sculpture, photography and installation in her pieces, examining the interconnectivity of capitalism, environment and one’s community.

“Using my own rural community as a starting point, I articulate the complexity and range of the public with their nearby landscape,” Couture said in her artist’s statement.

Couture received her bachelor’s from Buena Vista University in Iowa and her master’s from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Before moving to Oregon, she spent four years working throughout North and South America in various jobs including a camp counselor, wildland firefighter and artisan goat cheese maker. She uses a converted 20-foot travel trailer in her garden as a studio.

The gallery is located in Building 3 on the Salem campus and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday when classes are in session.

Contact the gallery at 503.399.2533 for more information.

Green talks open resources at Chemeketa, Capitol

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Cable GreenDr. Cable Green had every faculty member in the audience at Chemeketa Community College’s Salem campus auditorium raise their hands.

Then, he told them to lower their hands if they had never had a student who skipped on buying an assigned textbook for their class.

Needless to say, there wasn’t much movement.

There’s a lot more to the cost of higher education than tuition. The average college student spends more than $1,300 per year on textbooks. And that’s what brought Green, director of global learning for Creative Commons, to Chemeketa on March 4.

Green asked the audience to consider the possibility of open educational resources, or OERs. OERs are classroom materials such as textbooks, supplemental instructor materials and multimedia than are released under open licenses that allow creators to maintain their copyrights while giving those creators the ability to allow others to use their works if they wish.

In his keynote, Green pointed to surveys showing that two-thirds of college students have not purchased a required textbook at some point. Half of students say they take fewer classes during a term or semester in order to afford books. A third of students said they have purposely avoided classes or majors in order to reduce book costs.

“How are your students supposed to learn with materials they can’t afford and are not buying?” Green asked the audience.

In addition to the cost savings to students, Green also proposed OERs as a way for faculty to have additional control over the materials in their courses. A course instructor would be able to edit and modify OERs, share those materials for others to also use or review and even involve students in the continual updating of material.

“Nobody knows better what your students need than you,” Green said.

Green encouraged instructors who are not already using OERs in their classes to look at some before placing their next textbook order and told college administrators to figure out how to best support faculty who want to build OERs for their courses.

In addition to his presentation at Chemeketa, Green joined President Julie Huckestein and Associate Vice President/Chief Information Officer Tim Rogers at the State Capitol to testify before the House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation and Workforce Development.

The presentation sparked plenty of questions from the legislators on the committee.

Huckestein told the committee the college has formed a Textbook Sticker Shock Committee to both bring greater awareness of textbook costs to college staff and also provide opportunities for faculty and staff to collaborate on reducing the costs of textbooks.

She also pointed out that textbook costs add even more financial burden to a student having to take pre-college courses.

“For some students, that can add eight more courses,” Huckestein told the House members.

Rogers noted work already done at Chemeketa includes offering price comparisons at the bookstore, making more titles available to rent or buy as an e-book, more aggressively negotiating directly with publishers for lower prices, increasing internal audits of course material in some departments whether the material is an OER or not, and also making preparations at the library to house increased OERs.

“This is not an area where anybody seems to be digging their heels in,” Rogers told the committee.

Watch the House of Representatives informational hearing.