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Southeast Center/Extended Learning Campus goes through identity process
Photos and Story by Christine Egan
When Jessica Howard came on board last August as the new president for PCC Southeast Center/Extended Learning Campus (SEC/ELC), one of the things she did in her first 30 days was to meet individually with as many SEC/ELC stakeholders as possible.
The goal of this “onboarding diagnostics” process was to listen and learn about her new campus. After talking to more than 100 people, she deduced that unlike Cascade, Rock Creek or Sylvania campuses, the SEC/ELC did not have a strong sense of identity and cohesiveness or a clear understanding of its history or organizational structure. The Extended Learning Campus is a sum of many parts and smaller facilities offering job training, specialized programs and variety of transfer courses. These centers in addition to many other locations throughout the community constitute the Extended Learning Campus.
“I feel that this is a timely opportunity for the SEC/ELC, as we are of a sufficient size and complexity, and moving to comprehensiveness at the SE location – it is time to come together and consider what it means to be a distinct campus entity within the larger PCC family,” Howard said. “What unifies and distinguishes us? What characterizes the communities we serve and what is our particular vision for the future?”
After identifying the need, Howard initiated an inclusive process designed to give students faculty, staff and community members throughout the SEC/ELC an opportunity to talk about their sense of what SEC/ELC is about.
“I want people to think about our campus identity in terms of geographic and symbolic location, in terms of programming and scope, and in terms that are both personal and professional,” Howard said.
To spearhead the campus identity effort, Howard convened a steering committee last September made up of representatives from the various programs and centers that comprise the Extended Learning Campus. Membership included representatives from the district, student body, CLIMB Center, Workforce Development, Community Education, PCC Prep, Southeast Student Affairs, Southeast ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) faculty, among others.
The committee’s charge is to refine, guide and manage an identity-building process for the SEC/ELC by soliciting input from all stakeholder groups to develop an “identity statement” that reflects SEC/ELC’s distinctive campus culture. Ideally, this statement would include descriptions of characteristics, lists of values and beliefs, representative concepts or images, or other statements that capture SEC/ELC’s essence and unique, enduring qualities.
Together, the newly formed committee reviewed its goals and mapped out an action plan. The first step in that plan was to assess how employees within the Extended Learning Campus viewed themselves in relation to the Southeast Center and the ELC. The committee developed an online survey and gathered feedback from 56 people last fall. The results of the survey found that:
- About 41 percent of ELC respondents don’t see much of a connection or none at all with Southeast Center, while 11 percent “feel very connected to Southeast Center.” More than 71% of ELC respondents would like to see a stronger connection with Southeast Center.
- Nearly 30 percent of people (ELC) responded that they don’t see much of a connection with the ELC. More than 20 percent of ELC respondents “feel very connected to the ELC” and about 63 percent would like to see more connection with the ELC.
One sample comment from a respondent captures the sentiment of those who don’t feel connected to the SEC/ELC: “Even though our department is part of the ELC, there is no defined connection aside from the annual in-service. The departments included in the ELC are so different from one another and there is no or very little common ground.”
Based on the survey results, the committee has scheduled a Campus Visioning Session last Friday, Feb. 22, at the Slavic Church, just north of Southeast Center on SE 82nd Avenue. Howard is anticipating more than 200 faculty, staff, students and community members will take part in the event. The college has contracted with the Metropolitan Group to organize the event and facilitate the day’s activities and outcomes. The primary goal is to have participants from every corner of the SEC/ELC work collaboratively to create a shared identity and set of values. The agenda will focus on: Sharing the history and experience of SE/ELC; developing a deeper sense of community and renewed feeling of purpose for those connected with the SE/ELC; and sparking an ongoing conversation throughout and across the SE/ELC communities.
“I feel that this process is important as an act of reflecting on the unique and enduring qualities of the SEC/ELC that will inform the campus’s sense of community, and its growth and progress into the future,” said Luis Rodriguez-Garcia, Associate Dean of Student Development at Southeast Center.
To capture this campus to community building process the committee is having the session videotaped. Following the event, the committee will use the video and the outcomes from the day’s activities to develop a campus identity statement. This statement, along with a video presentation summarizing the seven-month process will be shared with PCC President Preston Pulliams and the PCC Board in April.
“The SEC/ELC is quite a community,” added Howard. “I think we are far more than a collection of offices and functions. I think we work together, refer students to each other, and share common qualities and values. That’s what makes us an essential part of PCC.”