Education center gets funds

A U.S. Senate committee has included $300,000 for the joint Higher Education Center in downtown Medford in an appropriations bill that is headed to the full Senate, Oregon's senators announced last week.

A recently approved Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill includes $3.1 million for Oregon health and education projects, including the building that Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College will share.

The two schools each paid half of the $22.2 million construction cost, gathering money from the state, an RCC bond and private donations.

"This would complete the package of state, local and private funding," said Liz Shelby, SOU's director of government relations.

The university, which sought the federal funding on behalf of the partnership, had made several appeals to the congressional delegation. This year's quest focused on technology for the new building, Shelby said.

The bill includes $300,000 for "technical infrastructure" for student records systems, distance learning and a testing and research center.

"We are delighted to see we are named," Shelby said.

However, she cautioned that this is an early step in a long, complex process that includes the full Senate, as well as the House and the president.

"There's a long way to go before we really know that the money will actually get here," she said.

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