Centralia College is proud to announce that the Phoenix Center will now be named the Odegaard Phoenix Center in honor of Gary and Kay Odegaard. The Phoenix Center supports the successful transition of students into academic and workforce programs by identifying skill gaps. It offers classes in English language, GED and high school completion, student success, and pre-college reading, writing, and math, and offers proctored testing and college placement exams.
With more than 50 years of combined teaching and service at Centralia College, and a lifetime of service to the community, the Odegaards exemplify service, dedication, and commitment for the betterment of students and community. The naming ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 30, in the Kirk Library on the college campus. The event is open to the public.
“We feel honored by the recognition,” the Odegaards explained. “Centralia College means so much to us, and we’re amazed by the growth the campus has undergone. The campus is looking more like a university, but it still has that small town feel.”
Kay Odegaard was a faculty member at Centralia College from 1969 until her retirement in June 1997. Mrs. Odegaard was a popular instructor and leader on campus, often helping students overcome challenges that might divert them from achieving their educational goals. She worked in the basic skills area, and co-founded the Phoenix Center with Frank Edge. As a longtime proponent for disabled students, Mrs. Odegaard was instrumental in bringing awareness to the challenges they face, and was Centralia Colleges’ first Disability Services Coordinator. She was a consultant to community colleges in Oregon and worked with students with learning disabilities. In addition, Mrs. Odegaard taught workshops about students with disabilities to a multitude of other educators.
Gary Odegaard was a faculty member at Centralia College from September 1969 until his retirement in June 1993. Mr. Odegaard was Chairman of the Business and Management Division, and served on numerous committees and councils during his tenure at the college. He also taught reading improvement classes that helped lead to the creation of the Phoenix Center. He served as a legislator in the Washington State Senate for 12 years, was instrumental in the capital project that raised funds for the Walton Science Center, and was able to help move the Corbet Theater project through the state legislature. In addition, Mr. Odegaard played a key role in keeping Green Hill School open during tumultuous times in the 1970s, served on the board for the National Slingerland Institute to train teachers who work with dyslexic students, and for a short time, served in the cabinet of then Governor Dixy Lee Ray.
“Gary and Kay Odegaard are great examples of what makes Centralia College great,” Centralia College President Dr. Robert Mohrbacher said. “They have a tremendous dedication to this college and to our community, and I am thrilled that we can honor them by naming the Phoenix Center after them.”