Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College


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Shari Anderson

Part-time faculty

David Armontrout

Full-time faculty

Terri Barnes

Terri BarnesFull-time faculty


I am a native Oregonian and have lived in Portland all my life, though I have traveled extensively in Europe and spend summers in Iceland doing research and writing. Right after graduate school, I started my teaching career at PCC in the fall of 2004. History is my passion, and I am glad to have a career where I can share it with people every day.  In addition to teaching, I am a Social Science Department Chair at the Rock Creek Campus.  My educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and a Master’s degree in History, both from Portland State University.

Research and interests

My primary area of historical interest and research is medieval England and Iceland during the Viking Age.  I also study Scandinavia during the same period.  As a social and cultural historian, I am very interested in microhistory, which delves deeper into elements of everyday life rather than focusing on grand sweeping events. My goal has always been to try and walk alongside the people of the past to understand who they were, how they lived, what they valued, and what motivated them.  I am also interested in how modern people engage with the past and for what purpose, particularly the Vikings who command a deep fascination for so many.

I have presented several papers at academic conferences and have published articles in Quidditas: The Journal of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association, Essex Journal, Community College Humanities Review, Medieval Magazine, and Medieval Warfare.

Rosa Bettencourt

Part-time faculty

Christopher Brooks

Christopher BrooksFull-time faculty


I’m a native Portlander, although I grew up in various spots up and down the Willamette Valley. I went to the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the U of O for my BA in history, graduating in 2000. After that, I spent four years working in the corporate IT field back in Portland, then returned to the U of O in 2004 to earn a MA in history. I liked graduate study so much, I decided to take the plunge and pursue a doctorate. I moved to Santa Cruz, California in 2006 to attend UCSC (best known outside of academia for its mascot, the banana slug), where I focused on intellectual history, French history, world history, and political theory. I spent time in France researching my dissertation, then returned and completed my doctorate in 2010.

After wrapping things up in Santa Cruz, my wife and our new daughter and I moved back to Portland, where we’d wanted to be the whole time. Between 2010 and 2012, I was both a part-time faculty member at PCC and a corporate systems administrator and business analyst. I was fortunate enough to be hired as a full-time faculty member at Sylvania in 2012.

In the few moments of free time I have, I play music, listen to music, and do my part to reduce the world’s excess supply of coffee. That noted, most of my time, when I’m not at PCC, is taken up by getting chased around by my daughter.

Research and interests

My dissertation is entitled Exile: An Intellectual Portrait of Andrá Gorz. It is an intellectual biography of the Austrian-born French philosopher Andrá Gorz, an important member of the existential philosophical cohort associated with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in post-WWII France. My dissertation reflects my interest in intellectual history(the history of ideas), as well as the intersection between philosophy and political theory; Gorz himself was a philosopher, a journalist, and a political theorist.

At PCC, I teach the Western Civilization series as well as a course on the history of the Holocaust. In the Western Civ classes, I try to present a balance of the major ways in which history is studied, including the political, the economic, the cultural, the social, and not least, the intellectual. I have also developed a keen interest in military history, and I have plans to develop a course on military history in the future. Since the Western Civ courses do not require any previous knowledge about history, my major focus in them is explaining some of the narratives – the essential “stories,” based on factual evidence – of history itself. Examples include the creation of civilization, the development and evolution of world religions, the “rise and fall” of Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and so on, up to the present.

I regard teaching the Holocaust course as the most important duty I perform at PCC. There, I try to balance an appreciation for the gravity of the topic – the murder of millions of innocent people – with the necessity of analyzing what happened, why it happened, and perhaps most importantly, how it could have happened.

My major professional interest, after teaching, is assessment. Like all colleges, PCC is responsible for conducting ongoing assessments of how effective its classes are, and I am interested in analyzing how meaningful assessment can be conducted in a field, like history, that relies on qualitative judgments and critical thought more so than right-or-wrong answers or number-crunching.

Ken Coleman

Ken ColemanPart-time faculty


I am originally from California but moved to Beaverton, Oregon at age seven. I have lived most of my adult life in Portland. I became fascinated by the study of history somewhat later in life and left a career in marketing to pursue it full time. I earned a BA in English at the University of Oregon and an MA in History at Portland State University.

Research and interests

y main field is the history of the American West and, more specifically, the Pacific Northwest. While I am predominately a social historian with a focus on settler colonialism and the history of racism in the United States, I am also interested in cultural and environmental history.

In 2017, OSU Press published my first book, Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon. It describes the life and times of Saules, a black mariner who was shipwrecked off the coast of Oregon and settled there in 1841. In Oregon, Saules encountered a multiethnic population already transformed by colonialism – in particular, the fur industry and Protestant missionaries. In 1843, once the Oregon Trail emigrants began arriving in large numbers, Saules had to adapt to a new reality in which Anglo-American settlers persistently sought to marginalize and exclude black residents from the region.

Jeffer Daykin

Jeffer DaykinPart-time faculty


Originally from New York, I’ve come to make my home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I was a high school social studies teacher in the Portland area and have been a history instructor at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus for seven years. I am passionate about both the discipline of history and the craft of teaching and continually look for ways to better meet the needs of varied learning styles in the classroom while ensuring that students develop the skills necessary for academic success.

My educational background includes both a B.A. and M.A. in History from Portland State University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lewis and Clark College. The primary field of study for my graduate work in history was Modern East Asia and my secondary field was World History.

Research and interests

My primary research interests are Meiji-era (1868-1912) Japan and the international expositions held in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I have presented at a number of conferences internationally and have recently completed research on Japan’s participation at Portland’s 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition and the relationship of that event to the Fifth National Industrial Exposition held in Osaka, Japan in 1903. In 2011 I was the featured speaker at the Multnomah County Library’s opening of Portlander Colonel Henry E. Dosch’s archives. Dosch was the Director of Exhibits for the 1905 Lewis & Clark World’s Fair. I am currently working on a collaborative project sponsored by the Shibusawa Eiichi Foundation of Japan that examines technology transfer between Europe, the United States, Japan, and China in the Long Nineteenth Century (1850–1914).

My interest in World History has led to a diverse range of additional research areas. I have published scholarship and book reviews related to the transatlantic slave trade and in 2006 I was able to combine my passion for educational theory with my interest in East Asian history for a conference paper presented to the World History Association on the application of John Dewey’s educational philosophy in Republican-era China.

I am a member of the Association of Asian Studies Association, the Community College Humanities Association, and the World History Association. I also proudly serve on Portland Community College’s Asian Studies Committee.

Robert Flynn

Robert FlynnFull-time faculty

Sylvia Gray

Sylvia GrayFull-time faculty


While living in Italy in my twenties, I was faced numerous times with my historical ignorance. In Italy, even very non-scholarly people had an idea who Julius Caesar or Machiavelli or Napoleon was, and although I had heard of some of these people, I had no idea where they fit in the grand scheme of things! So when I returned to the states, at age 31 I took my first college class at Portland Community College: Western Civilization. A number of years later, I graduated with my Master of Arts in History from Portland State University (PSU). At PSU I focused on the western classical period (Romans and Greeks), and my minor focus was early modern European history. If you are interested in a short version of my life and how I came to teach at PCC, listen to the graduation speech I gave in June 2012, during PCC’s 50th-year celebration.

I love teaching! Western Civilization courses have been my “bread and butter” throughout the last 20+ years, but I also taught Classical History and beginning Latin at Marylhurst University for a number of years. When a need developed at PCC, I began to teach Asian history, including the history of the Middle East, India, China, Japan, and Korea. These courses have called on my earlier experiences of living in Japan for one year, courses in Asian history at PSU, continuing education through the East-West Center’s Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP), and focused study/travel through the CIEE.

In addition to my teaching duties, I am involved in PCC’s shared government as chair of the Educational Advisory Council, which functions both as a kind of “faculty senate” and also as overseer of degrees and certificates, curricula, academic policies and standards, and student development issues. We are a recommending body to the college president.

Recently, my book Ask the Ancients: Astonishing Advice for Daily Dilemmas has been accepted for publication in November 2013, by a publisher who focuses on the western classics (Bolchazy-Carducci). I originally wrote this because I wanted to share with people that there are many fascinating and accessible writings in existence from 1500 or more years ago. These often address problems we still face today, yet most Americans have no idea they exist! In this book, I pose a “Dear Abby” sort of current interest question, and then I answer it from a classical writer, such as Hesiod, Plato, Pausanias, Sappho, Seneca, Vitruvius, Quintilian, etc. Examples are:

  • What should I wear to a party?
  • What kind of water pipes should I use in my house?
  • How can I overcome stage fright?
  • Is suicide ever justifiable?
  • Is the world going downhill?

I have recently enrolled in a doctoral program in education at Oregon State University, focusing on community college issues. I plan to write my dissertation on some aspect of reliance on adjuncts (part-timers) at community colleges.

As for my hobbies – I love to play classical piano, and my husband and I often host house concerts. Wherever you see “Classical Beauties” listed – that’s the trio I perform with.

James S. Harrison

James HarrisonPart-time faculty


James S. Harrison has over 40 years of experience as an educator: he has been an elementary teacher, high school teacher, a grade school principal, a college counselor, and is currently a history professor. He has worked on the Cascade Campus since 1993.

He was born in rural South Carolina, and moved to cosmopolitan New York City at age seven and came of age during the turbulent sixties. He was very active during the civil rights movement and, as a 9th grader took the initiative to picket the local Woolworth store in support of the southern sit-in movement. He was a co-founder of the Hughes High School Social Studies Weekly, which sold for 5 cents; at the end of each month, the proceeds were sent to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. In high school, he and his brother joined CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality) and participated in a variety of actions, among them: the march on city hall to protest unfair city policies, a successful sit-in at Foley Square which prevented construction of a federal courthouse until minority subcontractors were hired and a voter registration drive in Harlem.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in geography at Hunter College. Following graduation, he became a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher at a secondary school in upcountry Sierra Leone, West Africa, and traveled extensively through that part of the Continent. While in West Africa he developed an innovative method of teaching that emphasized critical thinking as opposed to the prominent post-colonial methodology of rote learning. Critical and creative thinking are still hallmarks of his instructive methodology. Upon his return, he earned a master’s degree from The City College of New York in the dual fields of African and 19th Century U.S. History. While working as an academic and financial aids counselor at Lehman College he gained a perspective of individualism when it came to dealing with students. Having lived on the east coast all of his life, he took a year off for a road trip across the country and ended up in Oregon where he worked in the Minority Career Education Program at Grant High School, which is where he met his future bride. While serving as principal at St. Andrew’s Catholic School, he enrolled in the Gonzaga University program and earned a master’s degree in curriculum and administration. After eighteen years in the Portland Public School system, he was hired to teach Afro-American History on the Cascade Campus. For four summers he taught a course in “Urban and Multicultural Education” in the Portland State University Graduate Teachers Education Program.

As a citizen of the world, he fully internationalizes each of his courses. His world view has been informed by his extensive travels to such places as ten nations in West Africa, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Croix and Japan and he shares his global insights with his students.

In addition to teaching, he served as a department chair for seventeen years and developed and pioneered several new courses in history and the humanities. He has also served on the campus strategic planning committee, chair of both the history and humanities Subject Area Committees and on the campus Diversity Committee. His teaching is focused on students and this is summed up in the statement: “I teach adults about life and decision making through the disciplines of history and the humanities.”

Research and interests

His main academic interests are 19th century US history, the civil rights movement, race and racism, cultural studies, and social justice issues. Historiography is an important part of his teaching and figures prominently in each of his classes. Furthermore, he uses the PCC website to deliver documents and additional information to students and this is in keeping with the college’s concern about students being conversant with the digital universe. He has also read extensively in the areas of pedagogy and the role of the community college. He is a member of the Organization of American Historians; and has delivered presentations at a number of venues in Oregon including colleges, high schools, churches, hospitals, and private businesses.

Currently professor emeritus, he is researching the wartime housing project of Vanport and expects to have it ready for publication by 2017. Retiring in 2016, he teaches one course per quarter.

Peter Hohn

Part-time faculty

Erik Johnsen

Erik JohnsenPart-time faculty

Andrea Lowgren

Andrea LowgrenFull-time faculty


I was born and raised in Napa, California, and moved to Oregon in 1995 to do a BA in History and Music with a minor in Spanish at Linfield College followed by a MA in musicology at the University of Oregon. Afterward, I went to Santa Cruz, California for my doctoral education. I received my Ph.D. in History in 2007 and that fall I moved to Portland to teach full-time at Portland Community College.

Research and interests

My research interests are in the histories of women, sexuality, race, and urban geography. My dissertation, “City Limits: Reputation and the Sexual Cartography of Women’s Mobility in Mid-twentieth-century San Francisco” shows how for women, the politics of space was the politics of sex. My research maps the urban expressions of women’s sexuality in nightclubs, red-light districts, and on neighborhood streets through the categories of work, entertainment, state policing, and sexual violence. By focusing on the city of San Francisco between the 1930s and the 1960s, it navigates the topography of sexuality over a specific terrain, making it possible to draw out quotidian details of sexual life. In doing so it focuses on the concept of sexual reputation – the mid-twentieth-century version of sexual respectability. Women in San Francisco carefully managed their sexual reputations in specific class- and race-influenced ways to successfully market themselves in the sexual economy, find sexual enjoyment, protect their respectability, keep themselves safe from sexual violence, and avoid state authorities. Concern about reputation led to self-imposed limitations of urban mobility that combined with state regulation and sexual violence to create surprisingly resilient geographic boundaries for women. Understanding how the containment of women’s mobility was built into a society’s ideas about sexuality helps to explain how and why restrictions on women’s movements seemed invisible and complete, providing a new lens for understanding the gendered inequality of urban spatial freedom.

My professional interests are currently focused on teaching. I orient my classes towards achieving social justice. I think that understanding the structural relationships of power in history not only explains present-day inequities but also provides avenues for truer reconciliation. Also, identifying and critiquing hierarchies of privilege can hopefully direct students toward greater global consciousness and meaningful citizenship. I also think that place-based learning can bring history alive. And if I cannot take my students with me, I want to expand my study in a geographically-focused manner because I think it offers an invaluable immediacy to the teaching of history. When I tell the story of an event or a people, I also describe the world they lived in – the sights and sounds of their world and the effects of this environment on people’s ideologies and actions. For this reason, I love to travel. Some of the places that I’ve visited and studied are Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey, Bosnia, Croatia, a lot of the US and most of Europe.

James McConnell

James McConnellPart-time faculty

Naso Michaels

Part-time faculty

Israel Pastrana

Israel PastranaFull-time faculty


I come to PCC from San Diego, California where for almost thirty years I lived and studied the southern border and the experiences of the people who cross it. I began the formal part of this education at Southwestern College, a community college less than ten miles from the international border. From there I transferred to the University of Oregon where I completed a B.A. in History. With the assistance of a federally funded TRiO program, I applied and was admitted to the graduate program in History at the University of California, San Diego. I took the M.A. in History from UCSD in 2011 and am presently a Ph.D. candidate in United States History.

Research interests

My dissertation, “Bracerismo: Guestworker Programs and Undocumented Migration from Mexico to the United States, 1907-1967,” examines the relationship between state-sanctioned labor importation programs and the undocumented movement of people across the U.S.-Mexico border. A comparative study of formal and informal efforts to recruit Mexican nationals for temporary work in the United States, “Bracerismo” shows how a particular set of immigration policies and enforcement practices accelerated the rate of undocumented border crossings and expanded the reach of immigrant illegality. I argue that as long as we fail to recognize the degree to which so-called “illegal” immigration is produced and reproduced through immigration law and its enforcement, authorized border crossings will continue to be criminalized and met with increasingly punitive removal and deportation measures.

My research has been generously supported by the Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Studies Fellowship Program, the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UCLA, and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, among others.

Before coming to PCC, I taught History and Writing courses at UC San Diego, San Diego Mesa College, and High Tech High Media Arts.

Charlie Presti

Part-time faculty

John Shaw

John ShawFull-time faculty


I grew up where George Washington led the Continental army across the Delaware River and surprised the Hessian garrison at Trenton, NJ on Christmas day 1776. One of my earliest childhood memories (age 3) was my parents bundling me up on Christmas morning to watch a historical reenactment (they do it every year – weather permitting). This sparked my interest and passion for history ever since.

I earned an M.A. in American Indian Studies and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Arizona. As a graduate student, I discovered how much I love teaching. I believe the role of an effective teacher is to empower students. My emphasis is on facilitating the learning process and serving as a catalyst to get everyone engaged in the educational experience. As we look at history through a variety of perspectives students develop the ability to think critically. Critical thinking motivates students to make independent discoveries, develop their ideas, values, and action plans, and become lifelong learners. Before coming to PCC in 2005, I was an Assistant Professor in the American Multicultural Studies department at Minnesota State University – Moorhead.

Research and interests

My American Indian Studies concentration focused on federal Indian Law and Policy. This led to my dissertation focused on one Native community’s cultural history and its political relationship with the U.S. government: “In Order That Justice May Be Done”: The Legal Struggle of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa, 1795-1905. Every other year I travel to the National Archives in Washington, DC to do post-doctoral research. Discerning the origins of this unique Métis/Ojibwa tribe required establishing the historical context for the creation of the Native American, French and British Red River borderland (modern Minnesota, Manitoba and North Dakota) known as Rupert’s Land under the aegis of the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1670–1820. Their ordeal illustrates that federal Indian policy, combined with local and state politics, favored European American economic interests at the expense of tribal sovereignty and land rights while providing a unique cross-cultural perspective on the history of European American and American Indian relations.

My current research interests involve a community study of Morristown, NJ during the American Revolution. It examines the village’s contentious relationship with the Continental army through two arduous winter encampments. I am a member of the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. I have given papers at academic conferences, contributed three entries to Making it in America: A Sourcebook on Eminent Ethnic Americans (2000) and ten entries to The Encyclopedia of United States-American Indian Policy, Relations, and Law (2008), and regularly publish book reviews in UCLA’s American Indian Culture and Research Journal.

Chris Shelley

Chris ShelleyFull-time faculty

Ken Wilson

Part-time faculty