Please note: This was published over a year ago. Phone numbers, email addresses and other information may have changed.
A message from Sylvia Kelley, Interim President, Portland Community College
Photos and Story by Gina Whitehill-Baziuk
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
I want to let our college community know about this week’s Oregonian story that may generate conversation. Here is a link: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/09/pcc_officials_ignored_warnings.html
The article includes allegations related to the roof replacement at PCC Newberg Center, a facility built in 2011 with funds approved in the 2008 bond election.
Let me start with what’s most important. We sincerely wish that we didn’t need to replace the Newberg Center roof. We particularly regret the impact it will have on faculty, staff and students — and on the Newberg community. We are working diligently on the repair so that the building can reopen in December, as promised. So far, we’re on track.
It might be helpful to know that PCC was not at liberty to directly counter many of the allegations reported in the article. We are actively investigating the cause of the roof issues to potentially recover some of the repair costs and losses. Because the investigation is not complete, it could be harmful to a possible claim to speculate at this time as to cause or fault.
We do, however, stand behind efforts to incorporate green materials and technologies into our facilities. The use of energy-saving approaches remains an important part of our college’s commitment to sustainability and to our climate action plan.
As the Newberg Center was being designed, reasonable questions about the use of energy-efficient insulated construction panels were raised by employees and considered by the team overseeing the effort, a team that included PCC’s expert design and construction consultants. The group’s ultimate conclusion was to move forward with these materials, which had been successfully installed in buildings across the country, and to monitor the roof closely. These were thoughtful decisions reached through a typical consultative process. The fact that the roof ultimately failed, a terrible outcome, does not necessarily mean that those decisions weren’t valid; it means that something went wrong along the way. We are taking the necessary steps to figure that out and to potentially recoup losses.
This is especially important because we are talking about public funds. PCC takes very seriously our responsibility to oversee voter-approved bond dollars. It’s important to note that our financial controls and processes in this area are sound. Our Board of Directors is well informed about capital projects and exercises appropriate oversight. We also provide extensive public information about our Bond program and its outcomes at pcc.edu/about/bond.
We are grateful for public investment in PCC and we believe that the outstanding new facilities and improvements made possible by the 2008 bond are furthering not just our education mission but also our community’s vitality. This is ultimately a record of long-term success of which we should be justifiably proud.
Sylvia Kelley, Interim President,
Portland Community College