The Oregon Institute of Technology's Wilsonville branch is open for business. That's good news for OIT, the Portland area and Klamath Falls.
As always, the subject brings up the relationship between Klamath Falls and the Portland area, and a natural (and occasionally justified) suspicion about the motives of the political leaders who live there, along with most of the state's voters and legislators. There's been a longtime fear there may be attempts to move OIT there.
The new Wilsonville campus, about 20 miles south of Portland, has 600 students in its first year. OIT's Klamath Falls campus has about 3,000 students and is the university's headquarters. It also has branches in Seattle, La Grande and Salem.
OIT president Chris Maples pointed out the two campuses offer significantly different courses that should draw students to Klamath Falls from the Portland area.
The physical presence of the building should give the school more visibility. The big "Oregon Tech" sign on the outside is clearly visible from nearby I-5. And, while it might be heresy to suggest OIT's basketball team play a game in the Wilsonville area some year soon, why not? The Owls do have league games scheduled elsewhere in the Portland area at Concordia University and Warner Pacific College.
Maples has made it plain that the main campus and headquarters for the school is in Klamath Falls and he intends to see it remains that way.
Naturally, we're for that, but the responsibility to do it isn't just Maples'. The community also has a responsibility, and that's shown by how much local support there is for the university.
It's also shown by the legislators Klamath County elects. The people who represent Klamath County in Salem are key to protecting Klamath County's interests, and, we think, Oregon's. They need to be able to reach across political lines and exert influence beyond the number of people in their legislative districts, which also goes for issues other than OIT.
The future's never certain. College administrations change and so do legislators. And who knows what's to come from the top-to-bottom redesign of the educational system being done by new educational czar Rudy Crew?
Much of the continuity for the university has to be supplied by a community that not only accepts the fact that things change, but helps drive them in a direction that's best for OIT, Oregon and Klamath County.