Chemeketa goes back to school


Chemeketa goes back to school

10:36 a.m. PDT September 27, 2016

Chemeketa Community College had its first day of the fall term on Monday.

But there’s a lot about Chemeketa you might not know.

Here are some of the key facts you’ll need if you want to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk about Chemeketa.

History: Chemeketa was founded September 23, 1969 as the Mid-Willamette Education District, and would later become the Chemeketa Community College District. It began operation on July 1, 1970.

Students: About 12,330 students were on Chemeketa campuses as of Monday, with about 8,300 at the Salem campus. The majority of students attend part-time or for no credit.

Cost: About $94 per credit — the lowest cost among Oregon’s community colleges.

Who are they: About 47 percent male, 51 percent female, and a little under 2 percent who preferred not to answer. The majority of students are between 16 and 25 years old. About 46 percent of the students are white, 25 percent are Hispanic.

Where: More than 55 percent of Chemeketa students attend the Salem campus.  Almost 98 percent of the students are Oregon residents.

Big cheese: Julie Huckestein is president of Chemeketa.

New programs: There are three new programs offered this year: Music — choral, ensemble and orchestra classes — to fulfill arts and letter requirements for the Associate of Arts Oregon transfer degree; the Robotics Associate of Applied Science program; and the Building Inspection Associate of Applied Science degree.

Books: Chemeketa’s textbook initiative, which began publishing its own textbooks last year, will publish nine textbooks via Chemeketa Press this fall — three are revisions of last year’s books and six are new textbooks.

“We project that the full catalog of books will save our students about $360,000 and return sales revenue of $75,000 to support Chemeketa Press projects,” said Greg Harris, a spokesperson for the college.

Scholars: Chemeketa Scholars, a scholarship program for high school students, home-schooled students and military veterans, has helped 1,824 students attend tuition-free from 2008-2016, which includes the 351 new Chemeketa scholars welcomed this year.

Promise: Chemeketa is also involved in Oregon Promise, which provides tuition assistance to qualifying high school and GED students. About 1,000 Oregon Promise recipients are enrolled at Chemeketa for the fall term. About 31 percent of these students identify as Latino. Their average GPA is 3.26, which Harris said shows they not only are qualified to be at Chemeketa, but they will succeed there, too.

About the name: Chemeketa is the only community college in Oregon not named after its geographical location.

According to Harris, the name “Chemeketa” came from a contest conducted among district high schools in 1969. Susan Blum, a dental assistant student at Salem Technical High, submitted the winning entry.

The word “Chemeketa” means “gathering place” or “place of peace” in the native Kalapuya language.

Contact Natalie Pate at, 503-399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at or on the Web at

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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