ROSEBURG — George Fox University’s plan for a Roseburg campus with a focus on training healthcare professionals recently got a big boost from the state Legislature.
As reported by The Oregonian, the state’s lawmakers approved $10 million from bond proceeds for the potential new campus. That doubles the amount pledged so far toward the estimated $30 million to $40 million to launch.
Roseburg’s City Council has committed to take out a loan of up to $10 million in support of the project. A local coalition — Oregonians for Rural Health — is looking to apply for grants and other sources of funding, said Wayne Patterson, executive director of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership.
Comprising Patterson’s agency, other community groups and healthcare providers and educators, the coalition was formed in 2016 and has been a leader in efforts to see the proposed school become reality. In March, George Fox signed on and agreed to run and manage the college, which would be called the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center.
The school would prepare mental health therapists as well as allied health professionals — a broad term for healthcare workers other than doctors and nurses, including nutritionists, physical therapists and technicians. Elsewhere in the state, George Fox offers graduate programs that prepare mental health counselors, physical therapists and nurses, and will in 2021 launch a physician assistant medical program.
The new Roseburg college would offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Currently, the only local institution of higher education is Umpqua Community College, just north of Roseburg. The nearest four-year school, Southern Oregon University, is more than 100 miles from Roseburg in Ashland.