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PCC’s enrollment growth highlights 47th year

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first day of classes fall 2007 at Rock Creek Campus

As the 2008-09 school year gets underway this week, the largest institution of higher education in Oregon – more than 86,000 students – is on pace for its fifth consecutive term of enrollment growth.

During the summer, PCC experienced double-digit growth across most campuses. Overall the college grew by 9.7 percent in total headcount and 14.3 percent in full-time equivalent (FTE) students after the end of the fourth week; the standard week for reporting enrollment figures. Headcount increased from 19,608 a year ago to 21,516 and FTE surged from 2,404.14 in 2007 to 2,748.19 this summer.

“As the economy continues to slow, it’s apparent people are turning to PCC in greater numbers to start their education or to retrain into a new career,” said PCC President Preston Pulliams. “The growth at the college has been phenomenal. In many areas across the district, we are near capacity now for general classroom use and office space. This presents challenges in meeting the needs of our students’ and educational partnerships.”

The First Day

Monday, Sept. 22 was the first day of the New Year and students crowded the college campuses to attend courses, register for classes, sign up for parking permits and complete admissions requirements.Not only are PCC officials trying to serve more students, but there are many new initiatives and plenty of news about the college happening practically every day. Here is a summary of what is going on as PCC moves into its 47th year of serving the Portland community:

Bond Measure

On Nov. 4, voters will decide the fate of PCC’s proposed $374 million bond measure (26-95). The bond would help the college serve more students, add classrooms and labs, modernize job training equipment and make existing buildings more energy efficient.

“The college faces critical challenges that are preventing us from meeting the demands of the workforce,” said Pulliams. “Each term, thousands of students get put on waiting lists because we have too few classrooms and labs to serve them. We are training many of the welders, nurses, teachers and other workers for the region, but the demand for this workforce outstrips our capacity.”

For additional information about the bond, visit

Industry Training

PCC has partnered with some big businesses to provide short-term training and to create degree option programs to meet long-term training needs. For SolarWorld AG, the college’s Customized & Workplace Training division developed a train-the-trainer class to help SolarWorld technicians learn to be effective managers. Also, the Microelectronics program developed a solar option to create a pipeline of qualified solar maintenance technicians. Read the story here.

PCC also teamed with Genentech, along with fellow bioscience firms HemCon, Welch Allyn and Precision Wire Components, to select students for the college’s new bioscience technology short-term training program. The Bioscience Technician Certificate of Completion is a 13-credit hour program in which upon successful completion, students will be eligible to interview with the companies for entry-level operator positions.


Preston Pulliams was awarded the regional CEO of the Year award for 2008 through the Association of Community College Trustees.

Dorina Cornea-Hasegan, PCC Microeletronics program chairperson and faculty, was named Intel’s Educator of the Year. This national award recognizes a community college educator for their contributions to the semiconductor manufacturing technology industry. Read about her story here.

Mark Andres, Rock Creek Campus art instructor, earned the Oregon Art Education Association’s Art Educator of the Year award. More on his honor can be found by clicking here.

The Rock Creek Campus won “Recycler of the Year” honors through the Association of Oregon Recyclers. Check out more details here.

Big Grants

The college was the recipient of a three-year, $698,095 National Science Foundation grant to infuse content, practices, tools and techniques into PCC programs that impact building construction. To read more, go here.

In business education, PCC received the International Business Education Initiative grant through the U.S. Department of Education for $172,646. With matching funds from the college and its partners, almost $400,000 will be used to broaden global-business curriculum within classes and train faculty. More on this initiative can be found here.

Board of Directors

The PCC Board of Directors consists of seven members elected by zones to four-year terms. The board members govern the college which includes selecting the president, approving the hiring of other staff and faculty, approving the college budget and establishing policies that govern the operation of the college. Denise Frisbee is the chairperson of the 2008-09 Board of Directors and Harold Williams is vice-chairperson. This year’s board includes: Frisbee (Zone 1), Williams (Zone 2), Bob Palmer (Zone 3), Jim Harper (Zone 4), David Squire (Zone 5), Jaime Lim (Zone 6) and Marilyn McGlasson (Zone 7).

PCC Foundation’s Challenge and Success

The foundation is part of a challenge grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. If the state’s 17 community colleges can meet the challenge, the Miller Foundation has offered to donate $1.5 million in total to help Oregon’s most financially strapped students. The challenges range from $50,000 for the 10 smallest community colleges, up to $320,000 for PCC. Rick Zurow, PCC Foundation executive director, said the PCC Foundation received 850 applications for scholarships in 2007-08 and had funds for only 335 of them.

“This is visionary, daring,” Zurow said. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest investment by a private foundation in the history of Oregon’s community colleges.”

In other news, the PCC Foundation exceeded its fundraising goal for the fiscal year, raising $1,314,118 in contributions. This past year, more than 36 percent of PCC employees donated to the foundation, raising $177, 588 – a significant increase from last year.

Event Calendar

Sylvania Winter Powwow (January) – The powwow features dancers, college fair, Northwest Indian Veterans Association Color Guard, Native American merchandise vendors, and Native American food like fry bread and tacos.

Cascade Festival of African Films (February) – This event based at the Cascade Campus and North Portland is entirely organized by volunteers and has shown more than 250 films from Africa since its inception in 1991 – free of charge.

Asian New Year (February) – This annual event at the Southeast Center features music, arts and crafts, entertainment, games, food, door prizes and lion dancers.

Semana de la Raza, or “Week of the People” (April) – This weeklong event at the Rock Creek Campus features movies, lectures, migrant clothing drive, artwork and an awards dinner honoring Latino culture.

Art Beat (May) – The largest festival of the year spreads out to all PCC campuses the second week of May. The public gets access to local, regional and nationally known artists and view extensive collections of visual art, dance, music, theater and literary events.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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