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As new academic year starts, PCC embraces changing landscape
Photos and Story by James Hill
Welcome to the 55th academic year at Portland Community College!
Unlike the age suggests, the college is very much young at heart thanks to new initiatives. These include welcoming the first class of Oregon Promise high school grads, getting energized by the introduction of a new leader and celebrating new national grant awards that will improve access and expand the college’s outreach.
Here’s the top college news as PCC starts the year:
Mark Mitsui Era Begins
The biggest development this summer has been the Board of Directors’ selection Mark Mitsui as PCC’s seventh president. He worked as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges within the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education for the U.S. Department of Education, advancing President Obama’s community college agenda.
The 2016-17 academic year will be his first at PCC, and he plans to meet with students, staff and faculty throughout the year to discuss what makes the college tick.
“PCC is nationally known for advancing student success and for a sustained commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity,” Mitsui said. “I plan to hit the ground listening and look forward to gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for the important work that is taking place across all of the campuses and centers. I also look forward to getting up to speed on, and beginning to work on, initiatives such as the upcoming bond campaign and implementation of the strategic plan.”
Keeping the Oregon Promise
This fall term, PCC is rolling out the red carpet to almost 1,600 first-year students who are taking advantage of Oregon Promise grants and have signed up for credit classes. Oregon Promise is the recent legislation passed that encourages students who are graduating high school or are recent GED graduates to immediately continue their education by providing them funding to attend community college in Oregon.
The first class of students got a crash course in college life. PCC’s outreach coordinators organized 15 Oregon Promise Welcome Days that attracted nearly 900 students across the college’s district. The days showcased what to expect when the school year begins, and how to navigate PCC’s wealth of resources and services.
The Oregon Promise Grant was created by the Legislature in 2015 with first awards available this fall term. The Oregon Legislature appropriated $10 million for the first year of the program.
Big Grant Win Streak
Recently, the college was flooded with almost $10 million in local and national grants to spur expansion of its educational training programs. PCC earned a $2.2 and $2 million dollar grants from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the High School Equivalency (HEP) and College Assistance Migrant (CAMP) programs, respectively. For HEP, the money will help migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families obtain a general education diploma while CAMP will target the same population to assist them in completion of their first academic year of college and to continue on in post-secondary education.
But wait, there’s more. Other grant awards include:
- $1.3 million from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission to help the PCC Foundation’s Future Connect Scholarship Program broaden the reach and impact of its services in the Portland area. The money for Future Connect, which breaks down barriers to college for low-income, first-generation students, is part of the “Aspirations to College” bill.
- $1.2 million from the Dept. of Education to fund the TRIO Talent Search Program at the Rock Creek Campus to serve 500 middle and high school students in Beaverton and Hillsboro school districts with academic, career and financial counseling, tutoring, and mentoring.
- $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education for a new juvenile justice re-entry education program called the Opening Doors Project. The partnership will provide career-technical education and wrap-around services to approximately 100 incarcerated juvenile females during the next three years at Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility in Albany.
- $997,253 from the National Science Foundation Scholarships in STEM grant program to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in PCC’s Electronic Engineering Technology, Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Machine Manufacturing Technology programs.
- $577,500 from the Oregon Talent Council for the Realizing Advanced Manufacturing Potential in Portland (RAMP PDX) Project. PCC will train, place, advance and retain participants in a variety of advanced manufacturing jobs, increasing the skilled worker pipeline for the many advanced manufacturing companies in the region and paving the way for workers to attain certificates and degrees.