Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

This content was published: June 28, 2021. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Planning and Capital Construction technology projects manager reflects on a decade of upgrades

Katherine Miller

Technology upgrades are a vital area of focus as PCC continues to meet the challenges of the future. The individual leading much of this work for the past 11 years has been Debra Jarcho, manager of technology and public safety projects for the college’s Office of Planning & Capital Construction (P&CC).

As she prepares for retirement this summer, Jarcho recently looked back at her tenure at PCC and reflected on the many improvements P&CC has initiated under the 2008 and 2017 bond programs.

“A lot has changed during my time at the college said Jarcho. “While the pace of technology often changes quickly, the college benefits most from planning for these changes. “We’ve updated 95 percent of our analog podiums to digital in classrooms and are now providing height adjustable tables for the teaching podiums,” she said. “In addition, the expectation for wireless access on campus has grown significantly, so we are upgrading our wireless access points and adding more availability.”

Jarcho served as project liaison/project manager for the new Vanport Building, for which PCC partnered with Portland State, Oregon Health Sciences University and the City of Portland. She said she found this project especially satisfying.

Debra Jarcho

Debra Jarcho on the job.

“Vanport was a rewarding experience to be involved with because it was highly collaborative and allowed me to learn new methods of building capital projects,” she said. ”This includes Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), which brings the owner, design team and contractor together to work collaboratively throughout the entire process of the project. The Vanport work also deepened our connection to local higher education and public partners.”

Projects related to college safety have also been a key part of Jarcho’s work. For instance, when Jarcho arrived at the college, all the security cameras were analog; for the last 10 years, PCC has replaced these with digital versions on the college network. In addition, PCC is continuing with upgrades to its mass notification emergency systems.

As bond-funded technology upgrades continue, Jarcho said PCC strives to understand the evolving academic expectations for technology.

“Every capital cycle we fund upgrades to our technology infrastructure and equipment to enhance our network and classroom technology,” she said. “It’s often not a 1:1 swap. We plan for and evaluate technology changes, and then develop a design, procurement, and implementation plan.”

Improvements to PCC’s technological and safety systems will continue after Jarcho leaves the college. But the impact she has had will be felt by students, faculty and staff long afterward, said Linda Degman, director of P&CC.

“Debra has been an incredible asset to the PCC and Planning & Capital Construction,” said Degman. “She has been instrumental in ensuring that IT and safety/security upgrades were incorporated into all our bond projects and that all of the work was completed in collaboration with stakeholder input. Her depth and wealth of knowledge will be greatly missed. I am thankful for her years of service and for being part of our team.”