Ever since contemplating a run for County Commissioner I’ve been giving a lot of thought toward the long term future of Douglas County, which includes contemplating about where we are now, where we’ve been, and what ideas exist, if any, of a better future for all.
Unfortunately, the way things stand now our next twenty years look as bleak as our last twenty. Nothing at all that I’ve read, saw, or heard leads me to believe that anyone, Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative, has any kind of plan to drive our chronic unemployment problems down into the low single digits –beyond that is, the effort to increase woods product industry jobs through increased timber harvesting on O&C lands.
While I fully support this effort, I do not see anyway whereby we’ll be able to secure long term increases of timber harvesting, at levels that would indefinitely sustain the additional 8,000 or so jobs that we require.
Therefore, we have to have a vision to supplement our woods product industry. Such a vision must include the better part of those 8,000 family wage jobs which are characterized by high wages and benefit packages.
Twenty year from now, for better or for worse, the majority of us will still be living here in Douglas County. Either things will be better, or as now, they’ll be worse than they were during the previous twenty. It is up to us to succeed in creating a better future, or suffer the consequences of failure that we all now know oh so well.
Bold strategies are required. Here is one such idea. Perhaps you have your own ideas. If so, now is not the time to be shy, but rather, it is the time step up and participate in the discussion . . . for if you do not, then the problems that ail us so will continue to be tackled by those who have brought us to where we find ourselves now. So I present you my Vision Statement:
Research, organize, develop, plan, and build a Christian biomedical research university in south Douglas County by 2025.
Modeled after a fusion of the The Rockefeller University and Liberty University, with the architectural style of the great lodges of the Pacific Northwest, this university would be unique in that it would be a predominately privately funded institution of higher learning for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers of biomedicine science. Crucially, it would be administered and endowed by a consortium of national Christian organizations.
Such a university would be a one of its kind institution in the United States and would fill a notable gap in the higher educational system by providing an accredited moral and ethical oversight of such fields as biochemistry, human genetics, immunology, virology & microbiology, neuroscience, and molecular cell & developmental biology. The University would be accredited by both religious and regional accreditation, and provide students with both a postdoctoral research degree and an opportunity to work and learn in a Christian academic environment.
Necessarily a small university but with a big footprint, such a campus would provide graduate and postdoctoral research opportunities for 250 to 400 students, and perhaps 1,000 additional faculty, postdocs, technicians, clinicians, and administrative personnel mostly drawn from local residents. The large footprint though, comes from the plenitude of small private sector facilities that would spring up around the university as a result of relationships developed as part of the university’s research enterprise program which would support, develop, protect, transfer, and commercialize research results for the public interest.
It is this commercialized relationship between a typical research university and private labs which account for the majority of the remaining 8,000 or so jobs that we require. Private industry typically clusters around such research universities to facilitate the seamless transfer of technological breakthroughs through a university’s enterprise program.
Such a university would meet all five of my vision statement criteria points and would fit Douglas County like a glove. Moreover, it is a conceptually realistic plan for the future, and encapsulates a compelling motive for large national religious organizations to participate in an area of scientific research which is sorely lacking in moral and ethical guidelines. Additionally, because of our strongly conservative Christian population such as university would be warmly received and supported by local residents.
With over 100 churches and 50 denominations represented in the county, and over 30 churches alone in South County, all striving to grow and spread the Good Word, a Christian Research University would benefit the Christian community’s efforts to nurture a spiritually healthy society far beyond even the most optimistic evangelist’s dreams.
A research university would also provide desperately needed incentives for specialist doctors to relocate to Douglas County by providing them increased educational and career opportunities, which would help alleviate the difficulties faced by VA Roseburg Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center in recruited qualified specialists.
Additionally, a small Health and Medical Sciences extension service could be incorporated into the university to further strengthen the synergy between these institutions. Although it should be acknowledged that the health and medical sciences field is already a very crowded field in Oregon, with several universities and colleges already provided sufficient educational and employment opportunities. Such an extension though small by comparison would significantly improve the care our regional veterans receive.
Because Umpqua Community College is already organized to graduate clerical and medical technical students, such a research university requiring upwards of a thousand faculty and administrative personnel would be easily staffed.
While a number of leading scientific researchers and professors would have to be recruited to the area, several enticing incentives suggest that this would be easier done than what might at first be obvious. First, the opportunity for conservative and Christian minded scientist to work in their chosen field within an educational environment that shares their belief system is a compelling inducement to accept a position in the university. Secondly, Douglas County offers a higher standard of living with a lower cost of living than most other urban university environments. Thirdly, national religious organizations posses deep pockets and will be able to initially endow the university with sufficient funds to competitively provide high salaried and benefit packages.
By locating the University in South County we will then have a distributed network of medical and educational facilities across the entire North South axis of Douglas County. It will also alleviate the greater need felt in South County in terms of jobs and infrastructure improvements.
In short this is a vision which would preserve and cultivate Douglas County’s unique cultural identity and values, solve our longstanding chronic unemployment problems, synergize well with our existing infrastructure, and provide an increased level of prosperity for our entire county.
To make such a vision tangibly extant necessitates a willingness to grasp the difficult, wrestle it the ground, and submit it to one’s will. As County Commissioner, just as I’m doing as a candidate, I will be drive the solution forward and between now and the primary in May 2012 I’ll put together a team, or board, to research and conduct a feasibility study of the idea.
As I begin to gear up to start fundraising and campaigning I ask that you consider my vision for the future of Douglas County.
Candidate for County Commissioner Position #3
Community Service Project: “Rally For Hope” April 9th 2012