Don Reeder sits in the Madras COCC community room named in his honor.In recognition of the years of work Don Reeder devoted to bringing a Central Oregon Community College branch campus to Madras, the COCC Board of Directors has named the large meeting room at the center in his honor.

For 16 years, Madras resident Reeder has served on the COCC Board of Directors, representing Jefferson County, part of Wasco County and the north portion of Deschutes County.

He officially retired from the board on June 30, and was surprised by the announcement unveiling the new “Don Reeder Community Room” at the board’s September meeting in Madras.

COCC Board Chairman Bruce Abernethy noted, “Don has been a tireless advocate for having a COCC presence in Madras, and we felt this was an appropriate way of honoring him and recognizing that work.”

Reeder said it took seven different types of efforts for bond levies, two applications for federal grants, and one request for a private donation, to finally get a bond levy to pass.

He was elected to the board in 1997, and during his tenure served as the chairman three times.

“I tied with Fred Christiansen for the most times as board chair,” he said of the late at-large board representative from Madras. “He and I used to have coffee together many times, and he’s the one who got me interested in running for the board,” Reeder added.

Local COCC board members have included Bill Robinson Sr., Jim Ramsey, Bill Bellamy, Fred Christiansen, Don Reeder, and now Joe Krenowicz.

“An educational board is only as good as the administration, professors, and support staff. And I was very pleased that the focus was always on the student. That’s what made my 16 years satisfying,” he commented.

Reeder said highlights during his time on the board included:

• Getting a four-year college established (OSU-Cascades).

• Building better relationships with local high schools, such as the 2+2 program, and offering college classes for high school students.

• Establishing new buildings on the Bend and Redmond campuses, and establishing branch campuses in Madras and Prineville.

• Working to establish the college campus in Redmond, which by itself is larger than three community colleges in Oregon. “It’s as important as the Prineville and Madras campuses, because it’s so far to travel to Bend, and because Redmond has more offerings now, aided by the new science labs,” Reeder said.

Looking at future plans, he said COCC hopes to offer a community college degree in Madras, but more students will be needed to do that.

In Jefferson County, Reeder said that it was important for local residents to have the skills to get higher paying jobs. “And I believe that education is the gateway in this economy to qualify for family-wage jobs,” he said.

That is why getting a branch campus in Madras was important. Because of the distance people had to travel to go to COCC in Bend, and the need to train the Jefferson County population for good jobs.

“Hopefully, the local economy will grow, and Jefferson County residents will have the training to fill those jobs,” Reeder said.

He noted Bend and Madras can’t just focus on themselves. “What’s good for Madras is good for Bend, and vice versa. We’re a Central Oregon economy,” he emphasized.

Reeder said he was honored to have the room named after him, but said the honor had to be shared with the people he has worked with at the college.

“Courtney Snead and Jennifer Oppenlander are doing a great job at the Madras campus,” he said. He also recalled working with “top flight” people through the years, including college presidents Bob Barber and Jim Middleton, and administrators Matt McCoy, Alicia Moore, Kathy Walsh, Bart Query, Jim Jones, Kevin Kimball and Ron Paradis.

“The board of directors and staff really care about COCC and not their own agendas, and about making the college better,” he observed.

As he steps down from the board, Reeder said he is really happy about the financial well-being of the college.

“We had many tough years, but Jim Jones and Kevin Kimball and the financial staff did an amazing job of keeping the college in good financial shape,” he said.

“Remarkably, we’ve saved some money for a potential PERS shortfall, and retiree insurance liabilities,” Reeder said, adding, “At a national conference Jones

was at, he said that out of 300-400 institutions, COCC was the only one to do that.”

In June, as a grand finale to his service on the board, Reeder said, “I got to hand out diplomas to the graduates, which was a lot of fun and rewarding.”

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