Two of UCC’s longest-working teachers reflect on changes as 60th anniversary nears

Published by Madison Shepherd on

An archived UCC newspaper features students near the beginning of UCC.
Scott Campbell / The Mainstream

The 60th anniversary of Umpqua Community College will take place in the next 2023-24 school year. With this milestone coming close, two long-term UCC professors have reflected on their years of teaching and the evolutions of the college.

The growth in the Athletics Department is one of the most notable changes.

Physical Ed and Outdoor Recreation associate professor Rod Snook, who has worked at UCC longer than any other current teacher, says, “It’s been a tremendous building of all the different sports, and now we’ve come into the new modern era, and we have a strong 250 to 300 student-athletes.” 

Snook teaches courses that draw in many athletes who are interested in other physical activities. His first year at UCC was in 1986 as the basketball coach and the health, physical education and recreation teacher. The only sports available at the college were men’s and women’s basketball, track and field and women’s volleyball. 

In the past 37 years, Snook has seen firsthand the Athletics Department grow and flourish. 

One other prominent change over the past 20 years is the growth in technology. Charles Young, associate professor of Social Science, has taught at UCC since 2001. 

Rodney Snook, Physical Ed and Outdoor Recreation Associate Professor, has helped students, staff members, and the community for 37 years.
Mason Ramirez / The Mainstream

Young notes that particularly in the past three years an influx of students have chosen to attend online courses instead of traditional in-person lectures.

“With more economic uncertainty, we need to be as flexible on classes given in-person and online to make it more student-friendly,” Young says. 

For students having to commute up to 60 minutes a day, the online course alternative leaves time to participate in courses without paying the hefty gas prices and traveling time. 

Young has noticed his history classes have more popularity online and has seen students enter his class who don’t live in Douglas County. Some are even from other states. The option of both in-person and online courses can continue to help students incorporate higher education into their lives.

UCC History Timeline

The idea of a community college in Douglas County all started in the late 1950s. 

Interested members of the community visited other college campuses and wrote a report regarding their findings. From this report, an Education Committee was formed with Wayne Crooch as its chair.

The Education Committee asked the Roseburg School Board to support the program of lower-division college courses. The request to start UCC was then approved in 1962. Once the request was granted, the first college courses were quickly available, and classes were held in rented facilities.

The 1965 UCC board accepted a site donated by Elton and Ruth Jackson for the campus to be built on; the land was 98.5 acres of pasture along the North Umpqua River where the college is now.

Construction quickly started for the campus nestled in the bend of the river, funded by a five-year tax levy passed in May of 1965 and a bond measure passed in 1968. The official groundbreaking ceremony was held in May of 1966, and the first phase of construction began.

As the campus was being built, in the 1969-70 school year, the Athletics Department joined the Community College Athletic Association (now the Northwest Athletic Conference or NWAC) with men’s basketball as its first sport.

For the first time in August 1997, classes were held on the current campus when construction finished on the administration building, classrooms and library. More than 2,200 students enrolled in the first year. 

As of the 2021-22 academic school year, 9,668 were enrolled in UCC courses. The Athletic Department had grown to include baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, cross-country, eSports, obstacle course racing (the only junior college to offer scholarship competition in obstacle course racing), women’s soccer, track and field, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s wrestling.​​ In addition, clubs and organizations were introduced such as Pre-Health Professionals Club, Engineering Club and UCC Forestry Club.

Along with these additions, new buildings were added on campus. 

In spite of the changes since the college first opened, both teachers agree that one aspect has never changed: UCC’s sense of community. UCC was started after the dedication from the community to open up a school. The first students were members of the community. Current staff maintain the same principles and work to carry on the legacy of community spirit.

UCC now has increased the amount of international and out-of-state students, but most students are from Douglas County. “We are part of the community. We pride ourselves on that,” Young says. Since the beginning, the local community has pushed for UCC to achieve the best education and athletics possible. 

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