BEND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's fastest-growing campus is also one of its smallest.
The Oregon University System says enrollment at Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend grew by 14.5 percent from last year, the largest percentage increase among Oregon's eight state universities.
The school attributes that growth to a feeder community college that has also seen growth and a poor economy in Central Oregon that has out-of-work residents heading back to school, the Bend Bulletin reported.
OSU-Cascades had 764 students during its fall semester, most of them juniors, seniors and students seeking master's degrees. The growth came as the school hopes to become a four-year college. It now mostly functions as a transfer school.
OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson said the high growth means the campus is on pace to meet its goal of having 2,000 students by 2020.
"You've got to get big enough so people know you're real and are sticking around," she said.
About one-third of its students come from Central Oregon Community College, where growth means more transfer candidates for the OSU-Cascades campus. The school is also ramping up its recruitment efforts around Oregon and into six western states, including California, Idaho and Washington.
This year, 7 percent of OSU-Cascades students are from out of state. Three years ago, out-of-state students made up 4 percent of enrollment.
Braden Schick, a first-year student, moved to Bend from San Diego to attend college. After being admitted to Oregon State University's sprawling main campus in Corvallis, Schick decided he wanted a smaller school and found that in Bend.
"It's pretty much been all I expected and more," he said.
The school turned 10 years old this year.
"We're finding that students are very aware of Bend, and families are aware of Bend," said Jane Reynolds, director of enrollment services.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press