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PCC Enrollment Surges Again Spring Term 2000
Photos and Story by James Hill
Enrollment is up again at Portland Community College, the largest college in Oregon. This marks the 14th consecutive term of enrollment increases at PCC. Midway through spring term, at the end of the fourth week of classes, the colleges full time equivalent (FTE) count is up 3 percent and student headcount is up 4.4 percent. FTE, which is made up of full-time and part-time enrollments to get a full-time count, stands at 5,435 this spring. Headcount has spiked additional 1,533 students and is at 36,140.
"We had predicted an annual growth closer to 2 percent," said PCC President Dan Moriarty. "We will be hard put without additional funds to accommodate these students."
Moriarty is concerned about the dilemma that faces many community colleges across Oregon. The colleges are dealing with an approximate 4 percent enrollment growth without additional funding from the Legislature.
In Salem last week, the Oregon Legislatures Emergency Board voted to defer until June action on a $16.4 million request by community colleges to help meet the increased demand for courses brought on by higher-than-expected enrollment growth. There are 17 community colleges in Oregon; PCC represents approximately 25 percent of the FTE.
Statewide, enrollment growth last year was equivalent to 3,500 new full-time students. The actual number of individuals is much higher than 3,500 because so many community college students attend class on a part-time basis. Figures for the 1999-2000 academic year will meet or exceed this growth.
"The 3,500 figure only represents the students that have been enrolled," said Vickie Chamberlain, executive director of the Oregon Community College Association (OCCA). "We know that at least that many people were put on waiting lists or simply turned away from community college this year because of a lack of resources."
At PCC, there are waiting lists for science classes that require lab time due to a lack of science facilities at all three campuses. There are also waiting lists in writing, in GED studies, in English as a Second Language classes, and many others.
"We are trying to keep the door open wide to our students, but it is becoming more and more difficult," said Moriarty. "Enrollment caps, tuition increases, a spending down of our budget reserves are the likely scenarios at PCC. But further increases in tuition and enrollment caps are counter to our mission of affordability and accessibility."
Portland Community College has a $144 million bond request on the May primary to provide funds for technology improvements, additional science laboratories, and much-needed repairs and upgrades. Moriarty said if the bond is not approved, then money will have to be drawn from instruction, further exacerbating the financial crunch at PCC.