ANOTHER VOICE: A year for change, technologically, at

This has been quite the year for changes in Oregon’s higher education system. As members of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee we have been closely involved with the structural realignment of higher education. For the Gorge this means we are well prepared to take advantage of this new structure.

The working relationship that Columbia Gorge Community College has established with our local K12 partners, industry leaders, including the Gorge Tech Alliance, the university systems of Oregon and Washington, and state and federal agencies puts us in a unique position to take advantage of opportunities that many other regions in the state are not ready to do.

Thanks to the innovation and willingness of Dr. Frank Toda and the College Board to think creatively, Columbia Gorge Community College has the attention of leaders at both the state and federal level. People are impressed that all of our area high school students can take advantage of dual enrollment and receive college credits while in high school.

Columbia Gorge Community College now has the Gorge Scholars program that offers free tuition to district students that maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA. Our adult learners are benefiting from the nursing program and the renewable energy tech program. The college will soon have the workforce training center completed in conjunction with the Oregon Military Department at the new Readiness Center at The Dalles Campus.

This is not happening all around the state and the Gorge region has become an example of innovative progress to other regions.

If everything continues down its current path, Gorge students will also be able to take advantage of working on a baccalaureate degree at the Hood River campus with a number of Oregon and Washington universities. This brings extensive higher education degree opportunities home to Gorge students without having to leave the area to pursue a degree.

Recently the mid-Columbia area has been designated as one of 10 Regional Achievement Collaboratives in Oregon. At the core of the collaborative is the Regional Center of Innovation.

The RCI is a concept conceived by Columbia Gorge Community College that envisions a seamless system of public education in our area. From pre-K to higher education our school districts will be linked by a common purpose of academic excellence, supported by our local communities, that prepares students for post-secondary opportunities and successful careers.

Dr. Toda and his board at CGCC are to be commended for their visionary leadership that is drawing attention from around the state and nation. Not only is the RCI getting a good deal of attention in Salem but will also likely attract financial support to help make ideas a reality.

And, we need to add to this the benefit that will come with full accreditation. This is the kind of thinking and innovation that has brought widespread, positive attention and funding to the Columbia Gorge Community College.

We just wanted to share some of the positive things that Dr. Frank Toda and the college board have been accomplishing for the Gorge area. From the halls of the capitol in Salem to the federal Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., Dr. Toda represents us well.

Everyone speaks highly of Dr. Toda, his innovative ideas and his accomplishments for Gorge students. Thank you, Frank!


Republicans Mark Johnson of Hood River and John Huffman of The Dalles represent the Gorge in the Oregon House of Representatives.

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