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Despite its Popularity, Oregon's Largest College Still a Bargain After All These Years
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – Asking a mere $39 a credit, Portland Community College will venture into its 39th year of existence this fall with an annual total student population of almost 97,000 across its district and still offering an accessible and affordable education.In 1961, the vocational and adult education division of the Portland Public Schools became known as Portland Community College and in the following spring a dozen students earned degrees. Thirty-nine years later, the state’s largest institution of higher learning continues to give district residents an affordable, creditable and accessible educational resource. PCC will begin its 39th year when classes for fall term start on Monday, Sept. 25.The college has come a long way, from the overcrowded buildings at Failing Elementary School and the Park Block’s Shattuck Hall in the early 1960s to PCC’s current operation of three comprehensive campuses, four workforce training centers and 200 community sites around its 1,500-square-mile district. Because of enormous growth in enrollment the last four years, close to 100,000 students are expected to come through the college’s doors in 2000-01.PCC is now on the cutting edge of student service. For example, last spring PCC entered an agreement with Oregon State University to provide students with a dual admission and enrollment program that eases the way for their success. The agreement streamlines application and enrollment procedures to best meet the academic goals of the students, allowing the college’s students to be admitted to both PCC and OSU with a single application. The agreement covers such programs as business, engineering, computer science, and pre-health professions like pre-medicine, pre-pharmacy, pre-veterinary medicine and pre-physical therapy. PCC has since entered into a similar agreement with Oregon Institute of Technology and there are plans to partner with Portland State, to be formalized by a signing ceremony in November.The top story for PCC for the upcoming year will be the proposed $144 million bond measure to appear on district-wide ballots for the November general election. Despite receiving 57.3 percent "yes"votes, the bond was defeated in the May primary election because of the double-majority rule where money measures must achieve 50 percent MorePCC – page 2voter turnout. The PCC bond got 49.6 percent turnout for its measure. There is no double-majority rule for the November election. The 20-year bond measure costs an average of 11 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value – $16.50 per year for a home valued at $150,000. If passed by voters, the college will be able to renovate aging facilities at its three campuses, upgrade technology in many occupational training programs to stay current, and build more classrooms. New projects will include new science classrooms at the Cascade and Rock Creek campuses and a new library at the Rock Creek Campus.Th measure comes in light of 15 consecutive terms of enrollment growth. Last year, PCC’s enrollment jumped 8.23 percent to reach 96,853 students annually.There are three programs that will debut this fall and continue PCC’s dedication of staying on the cutting edge of technology. Students may now earn one-year certificates in the *multimedia, e-commerce and Web site development. The programs came to the forefront because of the opportunities in the explosive business environment of the Internet and each of these programs give students the training that dot-com employers want. In addition to these programs, PCC offers about 80 degrees in a variety of disciplines, from nursing to diesel, graphic arts to biotechnology, and most transfer to four-year colleges and universities. The most popular transfer degree is the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree (AAOT), a general studies degree which guarantees PCC graduates junior status in the Oregon University System. But the courses don’t stop there as the college gives the community a chance to take everything from cooking to personal and professional development classes in a variety of fields of study. Students will pay $39 per credit hour for the 2000-01 year, an increase of $1 from the year before. Students are welcome to walk in and register, or use PCC’s automated touchtone telephone registration system, TRAIL at 503-977-5000; on the web at https://banweb.pcc.edu; by fax at 503-977-4988 or through the mail. For more information, consult the PCC Schedule of Classes which is mailed to district residents in August, or access the PCC Web site at: www.pcc.edu.For a more in-depth look at PCC’s programs and training opportunities, watch for the college’s informational videos, "PCC Profiles,"on AT&T and Paragon local cable networks this fall. The promotional videos provide details on the many educational routes that are available through the college. For schedules of the videos, contact either Susan Hereford at 503-977-4421 or James Hill at 503-977-4376.Portland Community College has come a long way since separating from the Portland School District 39 years ago. In that short time, PCC has emerged as a resource for those who seek an affordable and high-quality education. Stop by any of the college’s three main campuses at Sylvania (located at 12000 S.W. 49th Ave.), Rock Creek (17705 N.W. Springville Road) or Cascade (705 N. Killingsworth) to begin that education.