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Moriarty: Passion for Service Guides PCC

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by Dan Moriarty, president, Portland Community College, and featured commencement speaker at PCC graduation on June 17. Forty years ago, Portland Community College was born out of the conviction that thousands of Portland-area residents were not being served by Oregon’s traditional institutions of higher education. Further, there was the belief that a whole type of education, technical and professional, was being ignored altogether. Armed only with this conviction, the founders of the college built an institution which now serves almost 100,000 students each year, has more than 61 different professional and technical training programs, and has partnerships with businesses and government entities, schools and colleges. The college has, in fact, become an indispensable resource of the greater metropolitan community.Embedded in the conviction that created PCC rests an inspiration that continues to serve it well – a passion to serve the citizens of community through education. The operative words here are "serve"and "education."The focus is not on the institution or on the people who run it, but on the people served. We measure success on the number of people we serve, how well we serve them and the difference we make in the life of the community and in the lives of people. PCC has always understood that its distinctive product is education and training. It is not a social service agency, a welfare agency or any kind of traditional human service. We are not in the entertainment business, economic development or real estate. We are quintessentially an educational and training enterprise. A person must believe passionately in the transforming power of education and the potential of individual people to accept wholeheartedly the relative simplicity of this mission. For the last 15 years, I have had the opportunity and responsibility to serve as the president of Portland Community College. I have seen our enrollment grow to an all-time high, our facilities expanded and improved, our programs renewed and reinvented, information technology embraced and now matured, and our partnerships develop and grow stronger. Perhaps the greatest thrill I experience at this time is not in what we have done over the years, but in what we are positioned to do in the coming years. Once again, we are in a position to expand and improve our facilities, forge new partnerships with industry, government agencies and national foundations, and to meet the growing demand for education and training. Our staff and faculty are totally energized and eager to meet the challenges of tomorrow.Most importantly, PCC enjoys an outstanding reputation in our community. Whether by anecdote, or by third-party surveys, the evidence is incontrovertible. People view PCC as a high-performance organization – effective in what it does and efficient in how it operates.For PCC, community support has always been the lifeblood of its existence. Community support passes bond measures, but it also causes citizens and agencies to view the college as a viable and even preferred choice for education, for partnerships, and for investment. For the future, PCC has only to look to its roots to assure its success. The college must continue to embrace passionately its mission of service through education and training. Those of us who work at Portland Community College are lucky to be here, lucky to be asked to serve, and finally, lucky to be a part of this great educational effort. I am happy to be leaving PCC at a time when the college is so vibrant and when there is so much yet to be done. To the community, to the employees of the college and to the board of directors, I extend my heart-felt thanks and appreciation for allowing me to lead and allowing me to do my job.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »