Blue Mountain Community College sits nestled in the hills above Pendleton. The college is preparing to welcome students back for fall term in the coming weeks.

With a month to go before the start of the term, Blue Mountain Community College is seeing an uptick in enrollment.

Casey White-Zollman, vice president of public affairs at BMCC, said that as of this week, full-time equivalent enrollment is up by 5%.

She said the college welcomes the increase, which is markedly unusual.

“Oftentimes when the economy is very good, community college enrollment tends to be on the decline. When the economy has a downturn, that’s when we tend to see our enrollment increase,” White-Zollman said.

White-Zollman noted that enrollment tends to ebb and flow on a weekly basis, and that these numbers could change.

“To have a bit of an anomaly is a great thing for us right now,” she said.

BMCC Hermiston Center Director Jacelyn Keys said the Hermiston Center is seeing high enrollment across the board, including in language acquisition and GED classes.

“We’re a part of that (increase). I think that comes from having the largest school district in Eastern Oregon in our backyard,” she said.

And while fall term, which starts Sept. 23, will surely reveal new student faces on campus, it will also represent the start of incoming president Dennis Bailey-Fougnier’s first full year on the job.

Bailey-Fougnier was hired in March, and previously served as the vice president of community college affairs at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado, and as chief executive at Western Colorado Community College.

He got his bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon and later earned a doctorate degree in community college leadership at Oregon State University.

Earlier in the summer, BMCC secured $13 million in legislative funding for the FARM II Project, a facility that would provide room for agriculture and veterinary training.

White-Zollman said that as of this summer, the grounds — situated on land owned by the Pendleton Round-Up — are cleared and will be used as a parking lot during the rodeo event. In winter, the school will begin the request for proposal process to find an architect for the FARM II building.

While incoming students won’t see much of a change in available classes this year, the college is looking into offering unmanned aerial systems classes in the future, White-Zollman said.

“We’re always working to try to meet the needs of the community,” she said.

Keys said that the Hermiston Center is working to develop new continuing education courses, which will debut next school year.

Registration for classes at BMCC runs through Sept. 27.

Incoming students are invited to the BMCC event Welcome to the Pack on Sept. 18, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Pendleton campus, for an opportunity to meet faculty and learn about campus resources.

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