Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Think Bold: Drive Student Success

With its unrelenting focus on success for all students, PCC prepares students to meet tomorrow’s challenges, maintain a sharp curiosity about the world, and excel in the local and global job markets.

Overview

Students come to PCC for a variety of reasons, but all share the desire to succeed. The state’s ambitious "40-40-20" completion goals have raised the bar for measuring student success – while at the same time students arrive at college increasingly underprepared academically or personally, or without a clear plan or objective for their education. PCC must support the efforts of faculty and staff to scale up successful tools and strategies college-wide to accommodate the wide diversity of students’ backgrounds, needs and learning styles and to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed.

Two students hugging at graduation

Strategic Intentions

  • 2-1 PCC provides challenging and comprehensive curricula and intensive, rigorous start-to-completion guidance for all students, including underprepared students – whether seeking a degree, certificate or job training – in an environment supportive of goal completion.
  • 2-2 PCC partners with K–12 schools to catalyze a college-going culture for all students in the communities it serves. Replication of successful local programs, such as Middle College, as well as national models that provide transparent overlap and seamless transition to higher education serve to motivate, nurture, empower and build confidence in students.
  • 2-3 PCC adopts best practices and collaborates with like institutions to implement initiatives such as developmental education redesign and customized placement which, when coupled with personalized support services, enhance student outcomes.
  • 2-4 PCC supports student success through student engagement, leadership and co-curricular opportunities, frequent opportunities for interaction with faculty and staff, top-notch student services, discipline-wide systems of learning assessment and accountability, and other opportunities and support mechanisms for personal and intellectual growth.
  • 2-5 PCC develops well-rounded citizens by instilling students with core competencies in interpersonal and critical thinking skills and by providing access to multicultural and international learning opportunities. PCC prepares students to transition successfully into the workplace or on to further education with a commitment to continuous learning.
  • 2-6 PCC supports students in developing digital fluency to effectively learn, interpret, analyze, construct and communicate information in a digitally connected world.
  • 2-7 PCC’s online learning strategy includes full degree and certificate programs, access to current technology, and a flexible and comprehensive suite of online support services for all students.
  • 2-8 PCC applies successes from responsive, culturally-specific programs focused on student retention (such as ROOTS and Future Connect) to increase retention in all programs.

A Living Example

Rebecca Skloot and Don Defler
Rebecca and instructor Defler at a cafe

Rebecca Skloot was a high school dropout who began taking classes at PCC as an alternative path to a degree. Although she felt like an outsider in the beginning, a PCC faculty member sparked her lifelong love of learning and put her on the path to success.

An introductory class on genetics introduced Skloot to the topic that would become a significant future interest. Biology instructor Don Defler wrote the name Henrietta Lacks on the blackboard and explained that very little was known about the woman whose cells have been utilized in nearly all major medical experiments since the 1950s. Skloot was fascinated by the story. To encourage this interest, Defler assigned an extra-credit research assignment on Lacks and asked Skloot to submit a summary of her findings.

Skloot went on to earn master’s degrees in science and writing, but it was the subject she discovered at PCC that inspired her best-selling book "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" – an award-winning exploration of race, genetics and bioethics.

Twenty years later, Skloot proudly sent Defler an advance copy of her book along with a note that said: Here’s my extra credit summary, Mr. Defler... it’s a few decades late, but I have a good excuse: the information was really hard to find!

What We're Doing

Here's a few recent examples of how we're putting our strategic intentions to work!

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