What is the UCC Board of Education?

Published by Porter Merrell on

This image shows former UCC Directors. The current UCC Directors include Twila McDonald, Melvin “Bud” Smith, David Littlejohn, Erica Mills, Guy N. Kennerly, Randy Richardson and Steve Loosley.
Scott Campbell / The Mainstream

When students need help, they seek out an instructor, advisor or administrator. But behind the scenes are some additional important leaders with influential roles in UCC operations.

These leaders are the UCC Board of seven elected officials including Twila McDonald, Melvin “Bud” Smith, David Littlejohn, Erica Mills, Guy N. Kennerly, Randy Richardson and Steve Loosley. This board focuses on enhancing the accessibility of education to UCC students and the community, creating a positive learning environment, and fostering awareness in the district it serves.

Robyn Wilgus, assistant to the UCC Board of Education, inspects UCC documents.
Scott Campbell / The Mainstream

“Overall the Board of Education is responsible for the general supervision and control of the college. Oregon has Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) chapter 341 that provide state guidance for community colleges. This gives us guidelines, but they are more like laws. One of the things the ORS says is that we have to have 7 members on the board,” says Robynne Wilgus, assistant to the UCC Board of Education. 

This board also plays an integral role in ensuring the school operates smoothly.

According to the National School Boards Association Board Of Educators, these boards across the country give local communities some control over their educational institutions: “They establish the vision and goals for the public schools in their district, and they set standards for the performance of schools and superintendents. Most school board members are elected by people in their community to represent their values, views, and desires for the public schools in their district.”

Wilgus mentions that “ORS 341.290 reviews the general powers of the board, saying the board prescribes the educational programs and control and access of the grounds; they also fix tuition rates and standards of tuition.” The School Board is elected based on districts and zones. 

“We have the UCC special district in all of Douglas County except in the Reedsport area. This district is separated into six zones, and we have a board member who lives in each zone. Then we have one member that can live anywhere in the district. They are elected to four-year terms, but the terms are staggered. This spring we have 4 members up for reelection. Then, in two more years, the other three can run again,” says Wilgus.

ORS 341.175 states that the selected zones also need to be separated by population rather than city. “For instance in the east county out towards Glide and Elkton not many people live there. You can’t say Elkton is its own zone; they are divided among equal populations,” says Wilgus. 

The Board Reviews the zones after every federal census in to see of population changes of require re-zoning. 

The UCC Board members are currently working on the new goals in the Umpqua Community College ‘Doing’ Plan 2023-2026.

This plan, introduced on Feb. 8, will focus on the three key values of “learning, service and innovation.” 

The board also presented three strategies at their Feb. 8 meeting to keep UCC expanding. The goal is to increase educational opportunities for all children in Douglas County by improving the pathway from secondary to post-secondary education. This includes ensuring that every student has an opportunity to engage with UCC during their K-12 career and increasing the percentage of high school students who take college-level courses. This strategy is also to increase the number of high school students who earn a UCC certificate or degree before graduating. 

The board will also assist with the second strategy which is mostly focusing on return on investment in workforce community development, high-quality programs that lead to post-graduation success, and increased enrollments in the arts and academic programs.

The last strategy the board is focusing on is to help all students acquire the technical skills they need. The college wants to be sure graduates have the technological understanding and skills to not only compete but to succeed.

The college is also going to keep working with the community to show why the community needs post-secondary education.

In the board meeting for the ‘Doing Plan,’ the Board of Educators also listened to an explanation of the college’s strategic plan to improve UCC: “By refreshing the UCC strategic plan, the College creates a framework that will guide Umpqua Community College in the decisions it makes in the next three years. In this plan, we commit to a spirit of innovation and opportunity for all students, community members, and employees across all areas of the College, and we commit to continuous improvement to ensure that we remain the region’s education leader. Our community has high expectations of UCC, and this plan will help us meet and exceed those expectations,” said Rachel Pokrant, UCC president. 

Wilgus explained the role of the board related to UCC’s president. “The Board is also responsible for selecting the president of UCC. Something that is really cool about our current president is that usually boards will often use an agency or a national agency but for Rachel, the board chose Rachel out of 80 applicants. The president then reports directly to the Board,” Wilgus said.

The board also relies on policies to decide whether to change or adopt them. Wilgus explained that “the Board partly governs through policies. For instance student email accounts. In this one, it says that the college will provide students with student emails and the college has to abide by the policies but the board is the one that approves them.”

The Board also reviews new policies or policy changes at Board meetings that are open to the public. All new policies and policy changes have to be put through two separate drafts or readings and then are put to the board for a vote before implementation. Some of the most recent policies passed as of the March 8 board meeting:

  • 3310 Records, Retention and Destruction 3500 Campus Security 3505 Emergency Response Plan
  • 3515 Reporting of Crime
  • 3550 Drug Free Environment & Drug Prevention Program (update: responsibility to VPSS)
  • 3570 Smoking and Other Tobacco Use / Possession on Campus 3720 Computer and Network Use. 

The Board has published its own “responsibility statement” on the UCC website under the Resources and Services tab (look for the Board of Educators link, then from there look for the responsibility statement on the left side under “board policies”): “The administrative staff is responsible for the overall operation and success of the institution. They shall provide education leadership, student development functions, and operate the business affairs of the college. Administrators shall promote the coordination of activities of the component parts of the institution to prevent duplication of effort and ensure that the total institution meets the College mission, vision, values and strategic plan.” 

The next board meeting will be held on April 12 at Tapʰòytʰaʼ in room 17. Minutes to board meetings are published on the UCC website’s Board of Education webpage. Look for the information under “materials” next to each meeting. “The Board values public input. Written comments may be submitted to Robynne Wilgus, Board Secretary, at robynne.wilgus@umpqua.edu by 5:00 pm the day before the meeting. Please include your name, address, and city of residence for full consideration. Comments will be read during the time designated on the agenda. Oral comments may also be made during the meeting at the designated time. Again, please email Robynne Wilgus, Board Secretary, at robynne.wilgus@umpqua.edu by 5:00 pm the day before the meeting. Oral comments will be limited to 3 minutes. The Board may not respond directly to issues raised but refer those issues to the president for appropriate action.” 

Contact me at:

For more articles by Porter Merrell, please click here.