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A grand opening of the Lower Columbia College Regional University Center will take place Wednesday, followed by several presentations about new degree programs.

Wednesday’s ceremony starts at 11 a.m. in the Alan Thompson Library, which will house the new center.

The regional center was completed just prior to the start of the fall quarter and will house staff, faculty, study areas and a high tech classroom for LCC’s university partners. The participating schools are: Eastern Washington University, Washington State University Vancouver, City University of Seattle and Concordia University.

The goal of the center is to significantly boost the number of adults with bachelor’s degrees in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. Currently, that number is half the state average. The center provides a way for residents of Cowlitz and surrounding counties to earn bachelor’s degrees without moving away or having a lengthy commute. It should also increase the number of local professionals qualified to fill supervisory and management positions with area companies, LCC officials said.

“We are thrilled to provide greater access to bachelor degrees for our region and appreciate the support of our university and community partners,” Bailey said. “The University Center will serve as a gateway to advanced degrees and brighter futures.”

Currently, students are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in elementary education, early childhood education, interdisciplinary studies and applied technology through the center. By next fall, degrees in business administration and nursing will be added.

EWU Vice Provost Rex Fuller, WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer and CityU Vice President Marianne Fingado will join LCC President Chris Bailey for the official opening. Special guests will include former state Sen. Alan Thompson and retired LCC President Vernon “Pete” Pickett.

Staff from the four partner colleges also will give presentations after the ceremony and will be available to speak to prospective students until 3 p.m. EWU presentations are at noon and 2 p.m. WSU Vancouver’s is at 12:30 p.m., followed by CityU at 1 p.m. and Concordia at 1:30 p.m.

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