Southwestern expands nursing program

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is growing its capacity to train registered nurses in an effort to provide more workers for the region’s hospitals and medical clinics.

On average, the college graduates 27 registered nurses annually. The College will increase Nursing Program enrollment by eight students this spring term on its Coos Campus and by five students on its Curry Campus in fall 2019.

“Nursing is a good career for those that have a passion for helping people. We have no shortage of qualified students applying to our Nursing Program, but there is a shortage of Registered Nurses and jobs remained unfilled in our region,” said Susan Walker, SWOCC Director of Nursing. “This small gain in our program will help local people train for a nursing career, and assist the five regional hospitals and many medical clinics dealing with the nursing shortage.”

Demand for registered nurses is expected to grow statewide through 2027. Currently, the Oregon Employment Department lists nearly 40 jobs for registered nurses in Coos and Curry counties. The average hourly wage for registered nurses on the South Coast is $39.18 per hour.
In addition to expanding enrollment, the college has added full-time nursing faculty, including Dr. Judy Dornbach, who will teach on the Curry Campus in Brookings, and Shirley Reynolds, who teaches on the Coos Bay Campus. Dr. Dornbach and Reynolds teach labs and clinical instruction for first-year nursing students. They lecture to both first-year and second-year students on both campuses using video technology connecting classrooms. Southwestern has trained nursing students using this model for 10 years, with the majority of its graduates staying on the southern Oregon coast to work in area hospitals and clinics.
“I am very excited to be part of this growing program and for the opportunity help educate future nurses,” said Dr. Dornbach, who has 30 years’ experience in patient care, management and education. The college plans to continue to gradually expand the Nursing Program following completion of the new Umpqua Health & Science Building on the Coos Campus in the 2020-21 school year.

Individuals interested in pursuing a degree in nursing are encouraged to make an appointment to talk to an advisor. The prerequisite courses required to apply to the Nursing Program are offered on both of the college’s campus and many courses are also available online. Anyone interested in learning more about the Nursing Program can go to To make an appointment with an advisor in Brookings, call the Curry First Stop at 541-813-1667. For advising in Coos Bay, call 541-888-7405. ### Southwestern Oregon Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, national origin, age, disability status, gender identity, or protected veterans in employment, education, or activities as set forth in compliance with federal and state statutes and regulations.
People having questions about equal opportunity and nondiscrimination should contact the Vice President of Administrative Services in Tioga 512. Phone 541-888-7206 or TDD 541-888-7368. All other issues, concerns, and complaints should also be directed to the Vice President of Administrative Services for referral to the appropriate administrator.

Beetham Family Scholarship Supports Science Students

Donation creates largest scholarship in Southwestern’s history


Photo of Janet & Dennis Beetham

Janet & Dennis Beetham


Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College Foundation and the Beetham Family are pleased to announce the creation of a permanent $500,000 scholarship endowment fund for science students training for careers in engineering, chemistry and physics.

“This is a game-changer. These scholarships will have a huge impact on students and our ability to recruit them into science programs,” said Dr. Patty Scott, Southwestern president.

The largest scholarship donation in the college’s history, the Beetham Family fund will help approximately 20 students or more annually. It is designed to support students enrolled in demanding science and math courses, who want to pursue transfer degrees and specialized careers.

“These students will be our future innovators,” said Dennis Beetham in announcing his family’s investment. “We want local students to have the same opportunities to learn as students from other places. Our goal is for them to have the ability to take on the challenges facing our manufacturing, engineering and energy industries, and solve problems impacting our environment.”

Some of the scholarship funds will be available in the 2020-21 school year, when the college’s new Health & Science Technology Building opens.The college will break ground on the 36,300 square-foot building this spring. In anticipation of the project’s completion, the college already has begun to expand its physics and chemistry classes.

“We desperately needed a scholarship fund for our science students,” said Foundation Executive Director Elise Hamner. “Ninety percent of our first-time, full-time degree-seeking students relying on scholarships, financial aid and loans to make it through college. The Beethams’ fund will have an immediate positive impact, and because this is a permanent endowment, it will help our science students forever.”

The Foundation’s scholarship application season runs January 1 through March 1 annually. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately $130,000 to 100 students. For more information about supporting scholarships or volunteering as a scholarship reader, please call 531.888.7209 or 541.888.7211.

Southwestern Alumni Association Honors Former Athletes

COOS BAY, OR - Southwestern Oregon Community College’s (SWOCC) Laker Alumni Association honors former athletes, teams, coaches, and those that have had a large impact on the school and its athletic program. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 1, 2019 in Prosper Hall during the College’s annual sports awards (2:00 p.m.). The event is free and open to the public.

One team and two individuals covering a wide range of Laker history will make up the Southwestern Oregon Community College Hall of Fame's class of 2019. This year’s inductees are the 1st Men’s Cross Country Team (1964-65), Rashinda Reed (Volleyball 2000-02), and John Hunter (Northwest Athletic Association Roll of Honor, Class of 1989).

The 1st Men’s Cross Country team was coached by Bill Holmes. As the College’s first athletic director, he also coached both Men’s Basketball and Cross Country before continuing his career at Southern Oregon University where he brought the Men’s Basketball program back to the NAIA national tournament stage on the 20thanniversary of its first appearance. Members of the Cross Country team were Steve Bingham, Larry Haga, Bill Hansen, Ken Matthews*, Mike Orr* and Gary Rother. The team took 3rd place at the 1964 Oregon Community College Athletic Association Championships in frigid 24 degree conditions in Pendleton. Bingham, Rother and Orr finished in the top ten; Bingham took first with a time of 16:20 and Rother a close second with 16:31.

(*The Alumni Association is seeking help in locating some of the team members. Anyone having information on the ones marked with an asterisk (*), can contact the Hall of Fame Committee at or 541-888-7452.)

An Alaska native, Rashinda Reed was an outstanding volleyball player at SWOCC during the early 2000s. She garnered all-Northwest Athletic Conference Second-Team accolades in 2002 before transferring to the University of Georgia, where she played from 2002-2004.

After graduating in 2005 from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in psychology, Reed spent five seasons playing professional volleyball overseas. During that time, she competed for Austria's VC Tirol Volleyball Club (2005-06), Spain's El Algar Volleyball Club (2006-07), Holland's Plantina Longa Volleyball Club (2007-08) and Finland's PislaPloki Volleyball Club (2008-09). She also continued her education, studying anthropology and Hungarian at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary in 2005 and German at Innsbruck University in Innsbruck, Austria in 2006.

Her coaching career began as an assistant at the University of Southern Indiana (2009 to 2011). While there she mentored one All-American, two all-Midwest Region performers and two all-Great Lakes Valley Conference honorees. In 2010, the Screaming Eagles reached the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Reed also served as an assistant at Binghamton University from 2011 to 2014, helping the Bearcats capture the American East Conference Championship in 2012 and secure an NCAA Division I Tournament berth. She held the same position at Northeastern University for one season.

While on the Binghamton University staff, Reed coached seven all-conference selections, including the conference's 2014 Rookie of the Year and 2012 Setter of the Year. She was also responsible for coordinating the Bearcats' summer camp, leading a staff of 12 coaches, managing the budget and designing on and off-court activities for over 200 campers.

During her time in Binghamton, N.Y., Reed also served as the club director of the Whirlwind Volleyball Club, where she managed 14 coaches and 140 athletes.

Reed spent the 2016 campaign as an assistant coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she guided a Conference USA all-conference honoree and helped manage year-round recruiting. In the summer, she directed the Blazers' highly successful summer camp, which involved 40 coaches and over 800 campers. She also served as the head volleyball coach at Northern Michigan University in 2016-17.

At the University of Illinois, Reed is currently entering her third season (2019) as assistant coach. She has helped lead the team to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 2017, before making the program's fourth-ever trip in the NCAA National Semifinals as the No. 3 overall seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament and ended the season ranked No. 3 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches Poll. One of the most successful teams in program history, the 2018 squad registered a 32-4 overall record and finished in second place in the Big Ten Conference with a 17-3 mark, with the 32 victories ranking tied for fourth-most wins in school history. Under her tutelage, the Illini middle blockers have been some of the nation's best!

Former Southwestern Dean of Students, instructor and counselor John Hunter was inducted into the Northwest Athletic Association’s Wall of Honor in 1989. From his home town of Caldwell, Idaho Hunter made his way to Oregon earning his college degree in General Science Education at Oregon State University before going on his mission in the Norwegian Mission. Upon returning from Norway he married his wife of 45 years, Deanna. He taught junior high school science, was the 8th grade football coach, and an assistant high school track coach. John and his wife spent 36 years in the local community raising their family in North Bend. He studied and taught in the Counseling Psychology department at the University of Oregon, after which he began a 30-year career as an instructor of psychology, administrator, and counselor at Southwestern Oregon Community College. He was a strong advocate of athletics and the structure, discipline and development it brought to young adults’ lives.

Hunter considered it a privilege to mentor and support young adults as they established their life direction. His service in the community also did not go unnoticed. He served for more than 30 years on the Board of Directors for the Southwestern Oregon Community Action Committee. He was dedicated to discovering factors that contributed to poverty, and with the board, helped establish several innovative programs to help address those issues in the local community. However, John's greatest joy was his family, which now consists of his wife Deanna, along with John and Terri Lynn Hunter, Kim and Dennis Nelson, Brad and Jennifer Hunter, Lynn and James Jutila, Chris Hunter, Ruth and Jason Vollmer, Mary Dickey, Scott and Julie Hunter, and 30 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. While he passed in 2010, Hunter’s dedication to helping people and strengthening the communities he lived is something that is carried on by his family.

We hope you’ll join us for an exciting event to honor our current athletes as well as the 2019 Hall of Fame inductees!

For more information contact us at or call 541-888-7400.


photo of dr. shannon kobs nawotniak    photo of robot Hercules   photo of Broken Lava Tube

Coos Bay, OR  –  Southwestern’s geology lecture series continues when Dr. Shannon Kobs Mawotniak joins us on Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm. Dr. Kobs Nawotniak will present a lecture on "SUBSEA: Robotic Submarines, Underwater Volcanoes, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life". Dr. Shannon Kobs Nawotniak is a professor of volcanology and the Director of the Honors Program at Idaho State University. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Michigan Technical University and PhD from SUNY Buffalo. She is a leader in the FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration), BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains), and SUBSEA (Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog) which are all NASA research projects. These NASA projects are using volcanoes on Earth to understand the Moon, Mars, and Enceladus and whether they could have supported life. Shannon has worked on or visited active volcanoes in seven different countries including: Inyo volcanoes in California, the Los Tuxtlas Volcanic Field in Veracruz, Mexico, Mauna Ulu in Hawaii, and the eastern Snake River Plain volcanic zone in Idaho. Career highlights include being a simulation astronaut and riding a horse through the rainforest up a volcano… with a machete.

Geology Lecture Series talks are free and are held in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts on Southwestern’s Coos Campus, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay. For those not able to attend in person, this lecture will be Livestreamed and archived, with access from the College's website at  Additional talks in the series for this academic year include:  Dr. Julia Reece (Texas A & M) an Ocean Drilling Program distinguished lecturer on April 13, 2019, and Dr. Stephen Palumbi (Stanford) on extreme life in the sea on May 17, 2019.  Lecture series sponsors include DB Western, The Mill Casino, the Southwestern Foundation and the College. 

For additional information, please contact Ron Metzger at 541-888-7216.