About the College

Adapted from the College’s Self-Evaluation Report, 2019: Institutional Overview

Oregon Coast Community College (OCCC) is an open-access, publicly-funded two-year institution, one of 17 community colleges in Oregon. It was established by Lincoln County voters on May 19, 1987 to provide local access to lower-division collegiate programs, career and technical education, college preparation coursework, workforce development, and community education. The newly formed college began its first term in June of that year. In turn, the community then approved a tax base that combined with state allocations provided the College with continuous base-level funding for operations. Throughout its history, the College has provided courses and programs to meet the educational and economic development needs of Lincoln County.

About the College

Lincoln County encompasses nearly 1,000 square miles of land (and 200 square miles of water) with 73 miles of coastline on the Pacific Ocean. This terrain of great beauty and incredible ecological, biological, and geographic diversity is rapidly becoming a nexus for STEM-based activity. Lincoln County also faces many of the challenges of isolated rural communities, including sparse population, pockets of poverty, and barriers to services outside the county. The county’s economy varies markedly throughout its different communities. Northern and southern areas are dominated by seasonal tourism and retail services while the central portion of the county, including Newport, sees tourism buttressed by more stable, year-round contributions from government, commercial fishing, port facilities, and a growing science and technology sector. OCCC is the only locally accessible provider of the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. The nearest university, Oregon State University (OSU), is 55 miles and a coastal mountain range away.

For more than two decades after its formation, the College provided classes and services in a variety of rented spaces spread across the county. In Oregon, college buildings are largely funded by local property tax levies. In 2004, voters took the significant step of voting to fund permanent campus spaces with a main campus centrally located in Newport, a large center located to the north in Lincoln City, and a smaller center located to the south in Waldport. The move to College-owned and operated facilities in 2009 marked the beginning of a new era of stability and growth.

Program developments of the past years are having a profound impact on the lives of individual students and on the economic and civic vitality of Lincoln County. The College has made great strides in providing exemplary career and technical programs of critical importance to the community. For example, in 2006 OCCC first offered an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. Since then, more than 250 OCCC students have earned their degrees and are helping to meet the healthcare needs of Lincoln County and beyond. For many of our graduates, obtaining a nursing degree is life-changing. A graduate testified before Oregon State Legislators that becoming a nurse allowed her to move from requiring food stamp assistance to being self-sufficient and having the ability to buy her first home. OCCC’s Aquarium Science program is the only one of its kind in the United States. In addition to meeting the need for highly trained aquarists across the country, the Aquarium Science Program affords many opportunities for OCCC to partner with nearby organizations like OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Graduates of the Aquarium Science Program now work for aquariums, zoos, aquaculture facilities, and in their own businesses across the United States.

The College works closely with other key partners such as the Lincoln County School District, the Port of Toledo, Georgia Pacific, the Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln County, Oregon State University, Northwest Oregon Works, the Yaquina Bay Economic Foundation, Samaritan Hospitals, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and Centro de Ayuda. The College continues to create educational programs in response to community needs. In recent years, OCCC has launched programs in business, teacher-education program (K-12 and early childhood education), and maritime welding. Each of these new programs was carefully selected based on employment projections and community supports, and mission-aligned grants were strategically secured to fund start-up costs.

Some 2,000 students attend each year, some full-time and others part-time, balancing the demands of family, work, and school. Students take lower-division transfer credits, train or retrain for a new career, update their skills, learn English, earn a GED, or otherwise enrich their knowledge. Because OCCC is a small college, students experience more direct contact with faculty and support staff, allowing them to achieve their educational goals in a supportive academic environment and caring social atmosphere. The College is laser focused on student success and recognized in Oregon for leadership in re-designing developmental education courses as well as moving from standardized placement testing to a Multiple Measures model. Both concepts have shown national promise in helping students complete degrees and certificates more quickly. OCCC faculty and staff value collaboration, both internally and externally. Cross-functional teams work toward common goals throughout the institution. Strong partnerships exist throughout the County as well.

The College secured independent accreditation through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) in February, 2020. Throughout its history, prior to independence, the College had always managed its own budget and funding sources, and has had a locally-elected Board of Education, policies, college President, administration, faculty, and staff.