A new era has begun at Portland Community College.
A crowd of more than 500 people, that included Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, gathered at the Portland Art Museum in Downtown Portland on Wednesday, Oct. 30 to meet the college’s new president Jeremy Brown. Notable guests included not only the governor, but also Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz, State Senators Mark Hass and Betsy Johnson, State Representatives Michael Dembrow, Chris Gorsek and Margaret Doherty, Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey and Portland Public Schools leader Carole Smith, to name a few. To view all of the photos from the day, visit the college’s Flickr page.
The PCC Investiture Ceremony, “Together, Envision the Future,” gave the community a chance to get a taste of Brown’s vision for the college’s future and welcome him to his new position. In his address, he said the investiture wasn’t about him but a celebration of the college and the difference it makes in the community.
“All of this is humbling,” Brown said. “I am grateful, and I thank each of you. This is an amazing moment in PCC’s history. More and more people are looking to PCC as the primary route to achieving their educational and career goals. We offer opportunities to older students, students right out of high school, veterans, displaced workers, and international students. Students interested in transferring to universities such as Portland State, as well as those seeking terminal two-year degrees, one year certificates, retraining in new skills, ESOL, GED, pursuit of lifelong learning, and small business development.
“More and more, we are asked to be all things to all people, at all times and in all ways,” he added.
The PCC Investiture was designed to give the community a sense of engagement and ownership in helping to shape Portland Community College’s future and recognize the institution as an essential part of the region and the state’s vitality. Key stakeholders had a chance to interact with Brown and gain a better understanding of his focus and expertise as well as get a sense of what work lies ahead for the college.
The program, hosted by KGW-TV news anchor Laural Porter, included performances by the Jefferson Dancers and the PCC Voices of Soul Choir, a student processional highlighting the range of PCC programs and services, poem reading by faculty Michael McDowell, greetings by college faculty, staff and students as well as from the business and education community, gifts presentations and Brown’s presidential address. The event was streamed live on PCC’s website.
“It’s a great honor to be here and participate today and welcome Dr. Jeremy Brown to Portland and to the leadership of this great educational institution,” Gov. Kitzhaber said. “Having served in leadership roles with major colleges and universities on the East Coast, I think Dr. Brown brings an impressive background to his new role as president of Portland Community College. He brings a very strong appreciation of the vital role that community colleges play here.”
Brown took the reins of Portland Community College on July 1, becoming its sixth president since the college’s launch in 1961. A native of Manchester, England, Brown previously served as president of Dowling College on Long Island and Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, part of the state’s public university system. An academic by training, Brown earned both his bachelor of science degree and his doctorate in physics from the University of Birmingham, England. His doctoral work in experimental nuclear physics was conducted at both the University of Birmingham and the University of California-Berkeley. He spent two years at Indiana University pursuing physics research, followed by a faculty position in the physics department at Princeton University.
During his address, Brown said his father dropped out of school at the age of 13 so that he could help support his family financially and his mother did not attend college until she was nearly 40 years old. But both parents emphasized and recognized the value of education, so that their children, Brown, his brother and two sisters, would aim high and excel academically.
“I’ve come farther than I could have ever dreamed possible because of the opportunities offered to me through education,” Brown concluded. “And I want those opportunities for as many future generations of students as possible. Today’s event is a celebration — of the college, of community, and of collaboration. It’s also a call to action for each of us, to stand on behalf of PCC. Our entire community benefits from such support for the college and each other. As PCC’s new president, I will do my very best to honor the college’s legacy of commitment to students and to the community at large, to build on the foundation you have created.”
What They Said:
Carmen Rubio, Latino Network: “Today, I am proud to represent all of the community-based organizations throughout the region and Oregon who partner with PCC to make our community stronger. We look forward to working with you on building a community in which everyone is empowered to become a success, no matter the circumstances. We pledge to stand with you to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to change their life and their family’s life through education.”
Deborah Hall, president of the PCC classified employees and administrative assistant with the CLIMB Center: “Dr. Brown, I want you to know, you’ve inherited the best staff ever. This is a staff that creates new opportunities for people to succeed every day.”
Sylvia Gray, history instructor: “Teaching is at the heart of what we do, and we are passionate about it. Every day at PCC, across hundreds of classrooms, literally thousands of students are engaging in creative and practical learning under the instruction of the many dedicated people who make up the PCC faculty.”
Rachel Black Elk, student and member of the District Student Council: “Dr. Brown, we the students are excited to welcome you to this college. We are excited about your interest in the student experience, your support for creating a rich student life, and your enthusiasm to get to know us and the impact a PCC education has on our lives. It’s great getting to know you.”
Hadi Nouredine, owner of Family Dental Care: “I represent one of the 1.3 million PCC alumni whose lives have changed because of what PCC did for us – because of the doors to opportunity that PCC opened to us. On behalf of PCC’s millions of alumni, here and around the world, I welcome you, Dr. Brown, to an incredible community PCC has nurtured for the past 50-plus years – and will nurture for the next half-century.”
Denise Frisbee, PCC board chair: “Dr. Jeremy Brown’s vision of a 21st century community college, of a college that embraces innovation, collaboration, and leadership – is perfectly aligned with the goals of PCC and the needs of our communities. He truly is the right leader to help us build on our successes and chart a powerful course forward.” –