Southwestern Board Meets at the Curry Campus

The public is invited to attend the Southwestern Board of Education meeting at the Curry Campus on Monday, July 15 at 1pm.

07 15 19 Sessions web


Southwestern expands nursing program

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Southwestern expands nursing program

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is growing its capacity to train registered nurses in an effort to provide more workers for the region’s hospitals and medical clinics.

On average, the college graduates 27 registered nurses annually. The College will increase Nursing Program enrollment by eight students this spring term on its Coos Campus and by five students on its Curry Campus in fall 2019.

“Nursing is a good career for those that have a passion for helping people. We have no shortage of qualified students applying to our Nursing Program, but there is a shortage of Registered Nurses and jobs remained unfilled in our region,” said Susan Walker, SWOCC Director of Nursing. “This small gain in our program will help local people train for a nursing career, and assist the five regional hospitals and many medical clinics dealing with the nursing shortage.”

Demand for registered nurses is expected to grow statewide through 2027. Currently, the Oregon Employment Department lists nearly 40 jobs for registered nurses in Coos and Curry counties. The average hourly wage for registered nurses on the South Coast is $39.18 per hour.
In addition to expanding enrollment, the college has added full-time nursing faculty, including Dr. Judy Dornbach, who will teach on the Curry Campus in Brookings, and Shirley Reynolds, who teaches on the Coos Bay Campus. Dr. Dornbach and Reynolds teach labs and clinical instruction for first-year nursing students. They lecture to both first-year and second-year students on both campuses using video technology connecting classrooms. Southwestern has trained nursing students using this model for 10 years, with the majority of its graduates staying on the southern Oregon coast to work in area hospitals and clinics.
“I am very excited to be part of this growing program and for the opportunity help educate future nurses,” said Dr. Dornbach, who has 30 years’ experience in patient care, management and education. The college plans to continue to gradually expand the Nursing Program following completion of the new Umpqua Health & Science Building on the Coos Campus in the 2020-21 school year.

Individuals interested in pursuing a degree in nursing are encouraged to make an appointment to talk to an advisor. The prerequisite courses required to apply to the Nursing Program are offered on both of the college’s campus and many courses are also available online. Anyone interested in learning more about the Nursing Program can go to To make an appointment with an advisor in Brookings, call the Curry First Stop at 541-813-1667. For advising in Coos Bay, call 541-888-7405.

Barbara Eells Web Portrait

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce the selection of Barbara Eells of Gold Beach as the 2018 Distinguished Alumna.

Southwestern’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions to their professions, communities, or academia. Eells has distinguished herself in all three categories, starting with her graduation from Southwestern in 1986, with an Associate of Arts degrees in Social Work and Criminal Justice.

Eells enrolled in her first Southwestern class in 1975. Over the next decade, she worked full time in a medical office, raised three children and studied nights for her degrees.

“This is a remarkable accomplishment, considering she drove at night 167 miles on a dark, curvy highway, roundtrip to the Coos Campus to attend classes,” said Dr. Patty Scott, Southwestern president. “Barbara accomplished all of this before there was distance education and e-mail.”
“She persevered to overcome the significant barriers we face in rural communities to gain a good education and meaningful career. Barbara is an inspiration,” Dr. Scott added.

Eells started taking classes as a reserve sheriff’s deputy and continued her studies after graduating from Southwestern. She completed her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon University through Southwestern’s extended campus, and moved into her profession that has spanned more than 30 years in Curry County.

“I believe the answer to a lot of problems is education,” Eells said. “I think the more people are educated and open their minds to new ideas, the more we can make our homes, community and nation a better place to live.”

Eells managed the Victim Assistance Program in Curry County, went on to work in Child Protective Services and co-founded the Oasis Shelter Home. She also mentored and trained others in fields of child abuse and domestic violence prevention. Eells’ educational and professional accomplishment equals the effort she put into community involvement and advocacy over the years. As a member of the Curry County Multi-disciplinary Team, she advocated for treatment for sexually abused youth and founded the first Child Advocacy Center in Gold Beach. She tried to retire, and still spent several years managing the local animal shelter office. Eells continues to volunteer with the Curry County District Attorney’s Office, and in other capacities.

“I believe none of us make it to our goals alone, and I feel when we succeed at our goals, we should pay that forward by advocating in our own communities,” Eells said. “I am an activist for the vulnerable and disenfranchised. Whether that’s abused children, battered women or neglected animals, I try to be a voice for those who have no voice.”

The Southwestern Foundation and Alumni Association will honor Eells at the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Celebration at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 14, 2018, at the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute. Eells also will be the keynote speaker at the 2018 Southwestern Commencement Ceremony at noon, Friday, June 15, 2018.

“I am looking forward to introducing Barbara as our keynote speaker to the 2018 graduating class,” Dr. Scott said. “She exemplifies how a community college education can help people enrich their lives and provide the skills needed to improve a community for generations of families.”

(For more information on the College’s Alumni Association, visit

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As our communities continue to face severe smoke and wildfire damage, the Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Small Business Development Center (Southwestern SBDC) is here to assist businesses that have been impacted by these fires.

“Wildfires can seriously impact local businesses in unexpected ways. Early preparation and planning is critical,” said Arlene Soto, director of the Southwestern Small Business Development Center. “We are here to help. We have advisers ready to help work with businesses through supply chain interruptions, personnel issues and fewer customers that can all be impacted by these wildfires.”

Businesses can contact the Southwestern Small Business Development Center by calling 541-888-7026 to schedule an appointment with an adviser.

Advisers work with each business individually and address specific needs. Advising is free to businesses and confidential.

Some specific issues businesses often face during disasters:

- Destruction of property
- Destruction of assets used to secure business financing
- Supply chain interruptions
- Employees unable to get to work
- Cashflow disruptions

“Personal tragedy is often closely linked with business tragedy and interruptions,” said Ms. Soto. “Issues that may not have been a problem in the past can quickly become overwhelming. We are here to help.”

Across the nation, America’s Small Business Development Centers are assisting with major disasters following Hurricane Harvey and the expected landfall of Hurricane Irma. Small Business Development Centers are partially funded through the Small Business Administration and help provide additional local assistance during disasters. Oregon’s Small Business Development Centers are the largest business assistance provider in Oregon and are the only nationally accredited small business assistance provider in the state. Oregon has 19 Small Business Development Centers and more than 40 locations throughout the state.