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Fall Enrollment Surge Staggers Admissions Staff at PCC
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College is gearing up for possibly the largest fall enrollment in its history. The campus opens Monday, Sept. 25, for its 39th year. Last fall, 40,000 students registered for classes, breaking a record. Admissions officials at PCC campuses say there is even more activity this fall than last year at the same time."I don’t know if people are coming in earlier because of fears of not getting a class, but definitely, yes, the activity is considerably up in our office," said Dennis Bailey-Fougnier, PCC admissions coordinator at the college’s largest campus, Sylvania. Twelve days before classes begin across the PCC district, enrollment is up almost 13 percent from the same time last year. There are currently 26,303 registered students, approximately 3,000 more than last year at the same time. "We are helping students as quickly and as efficiently as we can," said Bailey-Fougnier. "There are still classes available in many programs, but it is getting quite tight in many others." Bailey-Fougnier has given approximately 30 orientations to help students get off to a good start at PCC. "The sessions are packed. Every one is filled to capacity." There are seven orientation sessions left at Sylvania Campus before fall term begins Sept. 25.Enrollment increases are also up for the year at PCC, the largest post-secondary school in the state. For the 99-00 school year, enrollment surged to almost 97,000 students, an 8.2 percent jump. It was the largest increase in college history.This fall, a survey of several courses and programs show that many are full or close-to- full, from first-year classes in building construction at Rock Creek Campus to introductory graphic design courses at Sylvania. At Sylvania, writing 80 and 90 are full; a few slots remain in writing 121. At Cascade Campus, the multimedia introductory courses are packed, along with facilities maintenance, ophthalmic technology, and introductory Spanish. There are still openings in math, medical laboratory technology and medical and legal assisting, as well as some availability in biology. Biology 101 at the Rock Creek Campus is nearly full with less than 20 seats left. Chemistry, another fundamentals course for students, is full at Rock Creek. Other courses, including veterinary technology and drafting courses in landscape technology are full, but spots are still available in plant propagation, landscape irrigation and tree care."Our popularity is increasing," said Dan Moriarty, PCC president, "but, unfortunately, we are now turning students away for lack of room. Our mission of accessibility is challenged." Moriarty said the college is asking district patrons in November for help with more classrooms, upgraded technology and building maintenance. "The need is more urgent than ever."The bond measure, 26-7, would cost district homeowners 11 cents per thousand, approximately $16.50 on a $150,000 home. Voters approved the bond measure by more than 57 percent in the May primary, but it did not pass because slightly less than 50 percent of the voters turned out for the election. "We are dealing with an extremely packed ballot this fall," said Moriarty, who has concerns that people may not be able find the measure on their ballot card. "The board and I, as stewards of a valuable community resource, have an obligation to present PCC’s need to the voters. If this bond does not pass, we will not be able to serve all of the students who need an education."