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Team from PCC tapped to present in Orlando on PEAK Initiative

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An initiative rooted in cost savings and increasing efficiencies that was developed at Portland Community College is generating “buzz” as a role model for community colleges across the nation – so much so, that a PCC team has been given the nod to highlight the program’s dynamics at next month’s American Association of Community Colleges annual conference.

“In today’s world of shrinking government funding, it is crucial that community colleges seek new, innovative ways to reduce costs and increase alternative revenue,” said Greg Rapp, Sylvania Campus business administration faculty and co-chair of the President’s Entrepreneurial Advisory Council – also known as PEAK. “PEAK has been able to demonstrate a successful, unique process for accomplishing this goal, and we’re delighted to share our findings with attendees at the AACC conference in case it’s something they’re interested in replicating at their colleges.”

Rapp will be joined by Preston Pulliams, PCC’s district president, and Neal Naigus, assistant to the president and an active member of the PEAK advisory council, to lead a panel discussion about the project at the national conference in Orlando, Fla., April 21-24.

The PEAK initiative was established in 2011 by Pulliams, with the goal of encouraging the PCC community to submit ideas for sustainable, innovative, and effective cost savings, cost avoidance, and revenue generating measures for the college. The advisory council of PEAK is made up of 30 volunteer participants from across the college’s district and representing a variety of departments and divisions. In its first year PEAK generated more than 30 project recommendations from staff, with eight being selected to pursue. Once in place, the ideas are projected to save the college nearly $350,000 each year.

Selected projects to implement include:

  • E-mail Holiday Card – Holiday greeting cards from President Pulliams will be sent via e-mail, rather than by U.S. postal mail.
  • E-payables Implementation – An integration of an electronic payment (e-payables) option into PCC’s largely paper-based system. The card-based payment system will reduce bank fees, processing costs, postage and check printing while providing a more efficient bill pay method.
  • Cell Phone Policy Update – A simplification of operations to reduce personnel time spent in manually allocating charges and additional carrier charges while providing a stipend to those who use personal devices for business use.
  • Unpaid Time Off Policy – Allow classified and academic professional staff to take unpaid time off, with management approval, particularly during slower times of the academic year such as end of summer and holidays.
  • CLIMB (Continuous Learning for Individuals, Management and Business) Center/Facilities Improvement and Re-purposing – The remodel provides solutions toward facility flexibility and will enable more health professions classes to be taught that will yield incremental profit. PEAK seed money helps with the remodel.
  • CLIMB Center/Development of online courses to reach rural areas – PEAK provides start-up seed money for course development that will generate long-term revenue.
  • Video and Multimedia Content Creation and Production Team — Create a new cross-departmental video and multimedia production team to better serve video production needs of the college, expand offerings of production and distribution options, and develop additional grant funding and revenue-generating projects.
  • Paper Use Reduction and Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund – Fund 10 percent of the PCC district recycling coordinator position to serve as a champion for planning, developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating a comprehensive paper use reduction initiative. A second component involves demonstrating the concept of a “sustainability revolving loan fund” within the college, using the paper use reduction initiative as a pilot/case study.

The PEAK advisory council is currently accepting proposals from staff for the next round of awards. Proposals are due May 18.

“PEAK has created a lot of excitement,” Rapp said. “People are really engaged in the process, thinking about new ways to do ongoing activities and finding new and better revenue streams to pursue.

“I like the excitement it’s created, and the opportunities it’s presented out there to do things in a new and more innovative manner,” he said.

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