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PCC celebrates ‘new’ Southeast Campus
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College now has its fourth comprehensive campus, and it’s time to party.
From noon to 4 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 18, PCC is celebrating the transformation of the Southeast Center (2305 S.E. 82nd and Division) into a full-service comprehensive campus with a grand opening. Attendees will have the opportunity to eat food from local food carts, listen to live music and taiko drumming, enjoy zumba, martial arts, Chinelos and Lion dancers, and collect stamps in their PCC Passport by participating in family-friendly activities and crafts. A moment of transformation will occur at 1 p.m., and a campus dance party with Melao de Cuba will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
The community party signifies the transformation of the Southeast Center into a comprehensive, full-service campus where students can earn an associate’s degree and have access to the full palette of student services at one location. This transition is part of the college’s 2008 voter-approved $374 million bond program with $49 million going to the construction and improvements that have more than doubled the size of the campus to 18 acres.
“For all of us this will be a momentous occasion,” said Southeast Campus President Jessica Howard. “We’re celebrating our new resource-rich learning environment designed for students to succeed and the fact that the doors of opportunity are quite literally thrown open for the historically underserved communities of Southeast Portland. This is a visible realization of the commitment of the college’s faculty and staff after so many years of service in the area.”
People who stop by can view the recently finished Student Commons and Library buildings. The Student Commons is a three-story, 66,000-square-foot structure finished last spring that houses an expanded bookstore, five science classrooms/labs, six general purpose classrooms, four career technical education/computer classrooms and a new STEM center. The Library is a three-story, 40,000-square-foot facility that contains the Student Computing Center, Student Learning Center (including tutoring services), Volunteer Literacy Center, traditional library services, four classrooms and study areas. Both buildings will house street-level retail space as part of the college’s effort to integrate services for students and the neighborhood.
“The energy surrounding the transformation of the college’s Southeast Center to its fourth campus is palpable,” said PCC President Jeremy Brown. “I remember coming to the Southeast Center for the first time when I was a finalist for the presidency, and thinking how much I wanted to be part of this college, one that was on the verge opening such a fantastic fourth campus. And that day is now here.
“At long last we’re able to bring a full menu of offerings, in terms of technology, courses, facilities and services, to our students and staff at Southeast,” he added. “Instead of a two-building center, there’s now a feeling that this is a real college campus.”
In addition to the new, there is the old. The German American Society’s historic 1911 building, renamed the Southeast Administration Building, has been preserved and repurposed. The renovated structure provides space for campus and community events as well as offices for Southeast’s administrative and Community Education staff. And on the fourth floor, PCC will open a branch of its award-winning Small Business Development Center by years end to provide services to Southeast Portland small business owners and entrepreneurs.
“Having Southeast become a comprehensive campus adds many new engagement opportunities for students,” said Joshua Peters McBride, student leadership coordinator for the campus. “With new services such as our Multicultural, Women’s Resource and Career Exploration centers, Queer Resource and a Veterans Resource spaces as well as our newly renovated Student Leadership Office, Southeast is perfectly positioned to provide new, exciting, and intentional learning opportunities for our students.”
An example of the benefits of the new campus’ status is how it serves students. Rather than having to shuttle to other locations to take a key core class a student can remain in the Southeast Portland neighborhood and take all the courses they need to complete their associate’s degree. Also, student support services now are offered in one location at the Southeast Campus Answer Center – a one-stop kiosk where any student can access and navigate college resources (Enrollment Services, Registration, Financial Aid and Student Accounts) with help from staff volunteers.
“The campus, like the neighborhoods around it, is poised for great things,” Howard said. “It is a wonderful feeling and privilege to arrive at this moment.”