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Multimedia Case Study: Rural Partnerships

“Brain drain” is a perennial challenge for rural colleges and communities. Many local students don’t pursue higher education—and those who do often leave when they graduate.

However, some rural institutions have found creative pathways for students to earn college degrees and build meaningful careers close to home. This multimedia case study explores rural success stories nationwide, from targeted recruitment to employer and government partnerships.

Audio Summary

In this audio summary, Liz McMillen, the Chronicle’s executive editor, asks three experts on how rural colleges can develop partnerships to fuel the growth of their local work force.The speakers are Grace Donovan, executive director of the Rural Engagement and Vitality Center at Eastern Oregon University; Ben Cairns, vice president and campus dean of Leadville and Salida campuses at Colorado Mountain College; and Andrew Koricich, executive director of the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges and associate professor of higher education at Appalachian State University.

Donovan shares her story about leaving her rural community after graduation and why she returned to help lead development programs in eastern Oregon. Cairns explains how his institution developed a new lift mechanic program to provide residents in the resort community of rural Colorado better financial prospects. Koricich expands on how the success of rural community colleges is intricately tied to the success of the local community and argues that every partnership must be mutually beneficial so that corporate partners, institutions, and rural communities can all share the benefits.

More details about how these institutions support their local work force can be found in the recording of the virtual event and accompanying case study.

Local Students, Local Jobs

How Eastern Oregon University uses strategic partnerships to launch rural careers

Eastern Oregon University (EOU), based in the small city of La Grande, Oregon, has just under 3,000 students. They are working to create new career pathways that allow graduates to remain and thrive within the region.

Thanks to a few strategic partnerships, they are seeing encouraging results.

EOU works with nonprofits and regional, state, and federal governments to offer services that help students thrive where they already are, including:

  • Early college programs
  • Paid internships
  • Career expos
  • Career-development programs
  • Financial support

Download the case study to learn more about EOU’s approach to rural partnerships.

Virtual Forum