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Rock Creek’s Rule of the road
Story by James Hill and Photos by Jerry Hart
There’s only one Rule at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus and that’s David Rule.
The gregarious bearded gentleman from upstate New York is the west side campus’ newest president and if you think he’s stuffy and by the book, then think again.
A self-admittedly funky administrator (he’s trained as a symphonic trumpeter), Rule rides his motorcycle to work everyday, bringing not only an impressive background of work at community colleges and higher education, but a diverse one that seems to blend in well with Rock Creek’s atmosphere. Rule grew up the north Adirondacks near Lake Placid where he always wore boots, and enjoyed riding horses and mini-bikes. Now, he has outgrown minis and can be seen rolling onto campus atop a 2005 Honda Goldwing motorcycle.
“I’ve always ridden or have tried to ride,” Rule said. “I ride to work, to the Sylvania Campus and have ridden to Astoria for meetings. Moving from the faculty ranks to administration to vice president and now to president, I have not stopped riding.
“(My wife and I) regularly take time for day-long or over night rides, to places like Astoria, Cannon Beach, Vernonia, Sauvie Island, and the McMinnville area,” he added. “We’re looking forward to this summer when we can explore places like Crater Lake, Pendleton, etc. I find it very therapeutic and relaxing because maybe I find it so different from what I do.”
Rule’s ride to PCC wasn’t uncharted territory. Last summer, Rule was president of Muskegon Community College – the alma mater of PCC President Preston Pulliams, who he worked for as Vice President for three years at Orange County Community College in New York. So when he joined the Rock Creek Campus as its president in the summer of 2008, he felt it was the right fit.
“He’s been a mentor ever since I met him in 2000,” Rule said of PCC’s president. “I was really interested in the campus; loved the farm and loved the rural area. Everything just fell into place. The timing was perfect.”
PCC also was attractive to the 48 year old because besides the location, the partnerships the college and Rock Creek has to industry – like Intel, SolarWorld, Genentech, Columbia Industries – made the job attractive. Plus, helping the campus in relation to the PCC bond measure last fall was a challenge he relished.
“I never worked on a bond of that size and that magnitude and, when it passed, the opportunity to work directly with the Rock Creek Campus and probably the most significant reinvigorating of the campus since its construction, is great,” Rule said. “The amount of money to be spent via the bond on this campus this time around is transformational; and for the college as a whole.”
Rule, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology from State University of New York in Albany and master and bachelor’s degrees in educational psychology and music education, respectively, from the College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y., is excited not only over the bond but his campus’ business links.
He said Rock Creek is growing its industry ties and is preparing to expand into healthcare by building a nursing location on campus (thanks to the bond) and expand links with biotech firms like Genentech. “Because of the healthcare areas, I just think Rock Creek is the happening place to be at PCC,” Rule said.
As Rule leads the college’s most sustainable campus (it’s won awards for its recycling) on the road to the future, he sees nothing but positives.
“The vision I have for Rock Creek is that it’s destined to become – given the demographics and growth of Washington County, the double-digit growth of the campus, the industry base and the importance of our 260-acre footprint – the epicenter of higher education for the county,” Rule said. “That’s very exciting to me.”