patty scott cherry award 111119 0010 PR

Coos Bay, OR – The Oregon Community College Association (OCCA) announced Dr. Patty Scott, President of Southwestern Oregon Community College, is its Howard Cherry Award for Outstanding Community College Administrator of the year. 

Oregon’s community colleges honored Dr. Scott on Nov. 7 at the annual OCCA conference at the Salishan Resort in Gleneden Beach, OR.

“Patty is invested in Oregon and its community colleges in a way that is personal, all-consuming and lasting. She’s more than one of 17 presidents. She is our collective champion,” Chemeketa Community College President Jessica Howard said, while announcing the award. 

During the ceremony, the group lauded Dr. Scott for being a mentor to other community college presidents. Her leadership with national Achieving the Dream program also brought accolades for Southwestern.

“We must have done something right at Southwestern, with a 29% increase in the graduation rate over the last 15 years. We have the highest student success rate, that’s students who graduate, stay enrolled or transfer, and the lowest time to completion in the state,” Dr. Scott said, in accepting the award.

She went on to say no one person accomplishes this alone, and credited the employees at Southwestern for caring about students and helping them be successful.

Dr. Scott has been at Southwestern since 1993. She started out splitting her time as director of Student Support Services (Trio) and Counseling Faculty. She was named director of Educational Support Programs in 2002 and served as dean of Students beginning February of 2006, until being named as interim president in October 2008.

During her tenure at Southwestern, Dr. Scott served a five-year stint on the Faculty Senate and spent three of those as chair. She received an “Excellence in Action” award in 2005 for her work as chair of a faculty led retention taskforce that resulted in creation of several new programs and campus cultural change. Dr. Scott became the sixth president of Southwestern on Dec. 14, 2009. This month under her leadership, Southwestern won the honor of being invited as one of only 150 colleges nationwide to apply for the prestigious Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

Dr. Scott graduated from a small rural Oregon high school in Wallowa in northeastern Oregon and began her higher education pursuits at Lane Community College in Eugene. Scott completed a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Oregon. She went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a Doctorate of Education in Community College Leadership from Oregon State University.

Dr. Scott is very involved in the community. She is a member of the Bay Area Hospital Board, a parks commissioner with the City of Coos Bay, on the budget committee for the Coos Bay-North Bend Water Board, Bay Area Hospital Foundation Board, and is a member of Coos Bay-North Bend Rotary and Zonta Club of the Coos Bay Area. She served on the steering committee for Leadership Coos for 11 years and four years as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. She was a trainer for the Ford Family Leadership for many years. Dr. Scott also is the past chair of the Oregon Presidents Council and is past treasurer and secretary of the Oregon Community College Association.

Prior to coming to Southwestern, she worked in student services at the University of Oregon and in career services at Roger Williams College (now University) in Bristol, R.I.


The Howard Cherry Awards are named for the late Dr. Howard Cherry, a lifelong advocate for education and community involvement. The awards are granted in three categories: Outstanding Community College Administrator, Outstanding Community College Board Member, and Outstanding Community College Advocate. The awards are given to those who, by their contributions to the community college cause in Oregon, have brought statewide recognition to community colleges. 

To learn more about Oregon’s community colleges visit

AspenPrizeTop150 2021

Coos Bay, OR – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Southwestern Oregon Community College as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges.

Southwestern is the only school in Oregon invited to apply, and joins the ranks of just 15 percent percent of community colleges nationwide eligible to receive the Aspen Prize. Selection is based on strong and improving student outcomes — including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity. Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges.

“We are surprised and excited at Southwestern with the announcement that our college is being considered for this honor,” said President Dr. Patty Scott. “Southwestern started down this path 15 years ago. Achieving excellence is about more than numbers to us. We created systems and connections to support our students in being successful. I’m so pleased to see our faculty and staff being recognized for their dedication. It’s possible because every person who works on our campuses – at every level and in every job – is committed to removing barriers to give all students the support they need to succeed. Today, our students lead the state in completing degrees and high-skill job training, and transferring to universities,” Dr. Scott said.

The 150 community colleges named as eligible to compete for the 2021 Prize were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector. The top ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020.

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students — through graduation and beyond.”

The top ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.

For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit




The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit and and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.

The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


Southwestern Swim Team hosts first ever home meet

SWOCC swimming


Coos Bay, OR – For the first time in school history, Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Swim Team is excited to host a home dual meet vs. George Fox University on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 2:30 pm at the North Bend Municipal Swimming Pool, 2455 Pacific St., North Bend. 

Outside of a few home virtual meets the team has had to do a lot of traveling since the program began back in 2014. To have a program like George Fox make the trip to Coos Bay is another milestone achievement for Southwestern Swimming. “I am thankful that George Fox University is willing to make the trip and we are excited to compete in a college dual competition at home,” says Coach Sandra Bullock.

The team is coming off another strong year where the both men and women placed in the top four at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) tournament last March in Buffalo, New York.

The first 100 fans in attendance will receive a free pair of SWOCC sunglasses! There will also be free food for fans while supplies last starting at 2:00 pm. 

For more information please contact Kyle Croy, Director of Student Life at Southwestern at


Astronomy Talk: America's Next Step on the Moon: Artemis

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College welcomes Dr. Jack Higginbotham of Oregon State University, Director of the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium, who will present “America’s Next Step on the Moon: Artemis” on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 7:00pm in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay.

Dr. Higginbotham will discuss the current goals for NASA’s manned space flight program. NASA has been challenged to permanently and sustainably return to the Moon by 2024 as part of a larger vision of continued human exploration of our solar system. Artemis, the newest NASA lunar program, will, with the help of industrial partners, get astronauts back on the lunar surface and pave the way for further missions to more distant world.

What will mean to have a permanent, sustainable human presence on the Moon? What science objectives are being accomplished? What is the Lunar Gateway and what does it mean for the future of manned exploration?  We hope everyone can join us for this thought-provoking look into the future of space flight.

For further information please contact Dr. Aaron Coyner in the Southwestern physics department at (541) 888-7244 or by email at