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Algie Gatewood taking job in North Carolina, leaves impressive legacy
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College is losing one of its longtime leaders.
Cascade Campus President Algie Gatewood has been selected to be the next president of Alamance Community College in North Carolina. Gatewood completes a nine-year tenure as leader of PCC’s urban North Portland campus. His last day on the job will be Sept. 30.
College President Jeremy Brown said he will gather input and advice on potential candidates in the weeks to come in order to appoint an interim president for the Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St. Once that happens, the college will then launch a search for a permanent leader. There is no timetable on this process as of yet.
“Without a doubt, this has been one of the most difficult decisions of my career, for I have come to love Portland more than any place I have ever lived,” said Gatewood. “Never before have I encountered such a rich combination of cultural and ethnic diversity, natural beauty, and open-minded and forward-thinking people. This is truly a special corner of the world, and I will always carry a piece of Portland in my heart.”
Gatewood, who has dedicated his nearly 40-year career to public education, brought his trademark Southern charm to Portland in 2004 to handle significant enrollment growth, guide two major bond build outs and help expand community partnerships at the Cascade Campus.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for Algie to return to North Carolina to lead a community college and to reconnect with his family,” said Brown, who started as college president on July 1. “I regret that I will not get the chance to work more closely with Algie. He has had a lasting impact on PCC’s Cascade Campus.”
Cascade has grown by 66 percent in credit enrollment since Gatewood took over in 2004. To help accommodate his campus’ popularity, Gatewood shepherded the opening and dedication of several Cascade Campus buildings from the 2000 bond and has been instrumental in the visioning and engagement of the 2008 bond work currently going on at Cascade.
But maybe what he’ll be most noted for will be his partnerships that serve needs of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Starting in 2008, Gatewood and the college partnered with Portland Public Schools to form the Jefferson High School Middle College for Advanced Studies program. The Middle College partnership enables students from Jefferson High School to take college credit classes at the nearby Cascade Campus with the opportunity to earn up to 45 college credits at PCC by the time they get their Jefferson diploma. A number of four-year institutions, including the University of Oregon, Oregon State, Portland State, Willamette University, Marylhurst University, and Warner Pacific College offer scholarship opportunities to Pell Grant-eligible Middle College students, as does private-sector partner Legacy Health System. Essentially, this means that most Middle College students have the opportunity to earn a four-year degree at little or no cost.
Gatewood negotiated the creation of the annual Washington State University – Vancouver Community College President’s Award, which provides two years of tuition-free study at WSU-V to a deserving Cascade Campus graduate. He also created and endowed, in honor of his late father, the Haywood Gatewood Memorial Scholarship to assist students pursuing a career in the trades.
In 2006, in response to the crime and livability issues that troubled the neighborhood around Cascade Campus, Gatewood reached out to residents, businesses, and organizations in the area to form the Albina-Killingsworth Safe Neighborhood Commission. The commission worked to implement common-sense solutions to the problems facing the community and, with strong support from the Portland Police Bureau, managed to achieve a 27-percent reduction in violent crime compared to the area’s five-year average. The commission’s work was recently honored with a Commendation Medal from the Portland Police Bureau as well as a Crime Prevention Project Award from the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement.
In 2007, Gatewood led the effort to rename the Cascade Campus Skill Center for State Senator Margaret Carter, a longtime leader in the North/Northeast Portland community. The Skill Center has helped hundreds of people from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds to gain the skills they need to find living-wage jobs. Two years later, he led the charge to rechristen the campus building where the Skill Center is housed as the Senator Margaret Carter Technology Education Building.
In addition, Gatewood opened the Weekend College in 2007, which offered an assortment of classes scheduled exclusively on weekends for people who desired to improve their job skills, earn a degree and further their education, but who may not have time during the week due to family or job obligations. Gatewood established Oregon’s first annual Financial Aid Day, and under his leadership, PCC significantly increased its support for the Cascade Festival of African Films, one of the largest African film festivals in the nation and Cascade Campus’ flagship annual event.
“It is humbling to look back at how much our campus and community have changed in such a short span of time,” Gatewood added. “Our enrollment has grown beyond anyone’s expectations, in part because we have evolved to offer our students more options, and serve them better, than we ever have before. We have deepened and strengthened our connection to our community, and – through the Middle College partnership with Jefferson High School – have created the means to bring about a profound change to this neighborhood which will be felt for generations. And with the construction of our new buildings, which seem to rise higher and higher every day, we are becoming even more the educational, social, and economic hub of our community.”