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Popular PCC opens 42nd year, challenged by funding
Photos and Story by James Hill
For photo of student Andrea Wright Click Here PORTLAND, Ore — Portland Community College, the largest postsecondary institution in the state with more than 101,000 full- and part-time students, turns 42 this year. Students begin the 2003-04 school year at PCC on Monday, Sept. 22 and face fewer choices, a cap on additional class sections and higher tuition. Due to a lack of adequate funding support from the state, the college is stretching to meet student demand. "Community colleges are committed to student access, but we are living in a world where the demand for our services does not match the funding,"said Jerry Berger, interim PCC president. Berger replaced Jesus "Jess"Carreon, who left the college in July to take over as chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District. PCC has had to turn away students in record numbers this year who wanted classes but were unable to find a spot. In order to find $20 million over the next biennium to balance the budget, the college reduced class sections, cut programs and staff, and raised tuition."PCC and the other community colleges train people for jobs and make our communities go,"said Berger. "The funding package approved by the Legislature this summer is inadequate for the important role we play in getting Oregonians back to work and starting a bachelor’s degree."PCC is slated to receive approximately $98.4 million over the next two years from the state, a decrease of approximately 11 percent from the 2001-2003 level. If the income tax surcharge measure is referred to voters and it fails, Portland Community College will lose approximately another $2.4 million over the biennium.The reduced state support does not reflect the popularity of the community college, however. PCC has grown every year for the past five years, until the college set up the enrollment cap to slow the growth. For example, full-time-equivalent enrollment jumped by 18 percent from spring of 2001 to spring 2002, then dropped back this spring to a minus 3.21 percent. One student feeling the pinch is Milwaukie resident Andrea Wright. Wright, age 39, hopes to enter the PCC dental hygiene program. She’s having a tough time completing prerequisites.This summer, Wright and 36 other students circled the first session of a required microbiology class, hoping a student would drop. "It is so competitive and frustrating,"she said. She and others tried to get a seat at three PCC campuses, but were unsuccessful. "The class had filled within 27 minutes on registration day,"said Wright. "The instructor said, ‘Tuition only pays for half, the state pays for the rest and there is no money from the state.’ This puts me one year away from entering the program. It has been so frustrating. I don’t blame the college, but who do we turn to to get our education and start making a living??"Even though the college is not getting adequate funding,"said Berger, "we are exploring every avenue to provide opportunities for our students."Berger said PCC will work to beef up grants and industry partnerships, focus on ways to increase scholarships, plus review course offerings to find greater efficiencies. For example, the college recently learned it is the recipient of a five-year, $1.27 million federal Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve student retention and support. The grant will help PCC set up online advising and student transfer centers, along with other improvements. Here’s an overview of other news at PCC:BudgetThe PCC Board of Directors adopted the college’s general fund budget of $130,386,889. By campus, the distribution of expenditures includes $35,946,266 for the Sylvania Campus, $17,463,973 for Rock Creek Campus, the Cascade Campus will receive $14,214,632 for operations, and the Extended Learning Campus (adult and continuing education and business and government education) will receive $6,194,065. (However, legislative activity at the end of the session dis-appropriated $7.2 million from the community college support fund for possible PERS savings, which will impact PCC’s adopted budget.)Palmer, Anderson are PCC chair, vice chair Bob Palmer will take the helm of the PCC Board for the 2003-04 academic year. Dana Anderson will become vice chair. Palmer represents Zone 3, which includes portions of southeast and northeast Portland, while Anderson represents Zone 4, consisting of inner north/northeast/southeast Portland. Palmer is an adult housing administrator for Multnomah County and Anderson is a partner with Conservation Services (a hearing health care consulting firm). The board, elected to four-year terms, is responsible for the budget, overall policy direction and governance of the college. They are not paid for their service. Presidential SearchPCC has hired a national search firm Gold Hill and Associates to manage the presidential search process. The board plans to interview candidates in the spring and hire a new president by late March. The board of directors will appoint a 10-member advisory committee on Oct. 2, made up of faculty, staff, community and Foundation board members. Bond Construction Gains GroundPCC district construction bond projects made solid headway this summer. The new construction, and upgrading and maintenance of existing facilities, is the result of a $144 million bond approval by district voters in November of 2000.At Cascade Campus on North Killingsworth, students will return to new science labs with the addition to Jackson Hall, completed at the end of the summer. Crews are busy finishing up ceiling and floor tiles and electrical work. Jackson Hall will also get a makeover in some areas; the renovation and addition, approximately 47,000 square feet, will cost $6.2 million. In addition, excavation of the new physical education building, across the street from Jefferson High School, began in late summer. The 28,400-square-foot building will cost $4.9 million. Architect is Yost Grube Hall.Crews broke ground this summer on the new Technology Classroom Building at the Sylvania Campus (suburban southwest Portland), which is expected to open in July of 2004. The 47,000-square-foot, two-story building will cost $7.6 million and is designed by Opsis Architecture. In other areas on campus, the improvement projects in the HT Building will be ready fall term, including upgrades to office areas, dental labs, and health and family studies areas. Construction progress at the Rock Creek Campus, in Washington County at 185th Avenue off the Sunset Highway, is also moving forward. Site prep, including the excavation and foundation work on the new library/student services building began this summer. The 67,000-square-foot building features two stories, with the library on the top level. Also underway are new science labs for Building 7 and other space improvements. The addition is 22,000 square feet. Cost for both projects is $15.6 million. The science/technology addition and the new building will be ready for students by fall term of 2004. Design is by Thomas Hacker Architects. The new Southeast Center, 91,000 square feet, is set to open for classes in January of 2004. The $19 million facility consists of two buildings, connected by a covered walkway. The new center is located at Southeast 82nd Avenue and Division Street in Portland. Yost Grube Hall designed the center.Class Schedule No Longer MailedIn order to pare costs and to help manage a reduced budget, the college has stopped mailing the quarterly Schedule of Classes to district residents while at the same time providing resources to beef up online registration and directing people to the college’s award-winning online schedule. PCC enrollment data shows that approximately 64 percent of credit students used the Web last year to register for classes. The college has made the online schedule available two weeks earlier than the printed version, an
d it is accessible from anywhere in the world. It is also updated each night with class changes and is searchable by key words, subject area, location, days of the week, time of day and instructor. Printed schedules are still available on campuses, at libraries, and also at Portland-area Hollywood Video outlets.New programA consortium of colleges including Portland Community College will offer a new online program for audiovisual specialists, in alliance with the International Communications Industries Association. AV Tech Online consists of eight online courses and targets current workers, including audiovisual professionals who are seeking college credit and those who use AV technologies as a part of their daily duties. It will be offered as a college certificate or as part of a college degree program. "The industry told us they needed this and it’s proven to be true,"said John Sneed, director of PCC’s Distance Education program. "The really telling thing is how enthusiastic our local industry members are. They’ve formed an apprenticeship board and have gotten state approval for an apprenticeship program using the courses to meet the related courses requirement."Other colleges in the national alliance include Miami-Dade, Dallas County, and Metropolitan (Missouri).Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving students at three comprehensive campuses, four workforce training centers and more than 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area.