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Pacific campus in line for changes

There are big changes in the works at Pacific University’s campuses in Hillsboro and Forest Grove.

School leaders want to add several degree options, design and construct a third building in Hillsboro, increase the endowment to $100 million and make some major improvements on the Forest Grove campus — all by 2020.

Hand-in-hand with these improvements is an overarching goal to attract 600 additional students, bringing both undergraduate and graduate enrollment from about 1,700 students each up to 2,000.

And the growth won’t necessarily stop there. In an address to the university, Pacific University President Lesley Hallick explained that the enrollment goal was “at least” 2,000 for both levels of study. According to Pacific’s director of media relations, Joe Lang, officials will continue to evaluate the capacity for more students after meeting this goal.

“We’re positioned for growth right now,” Lang said.

With current undergraduate tuition at $35,260 a year, enrollment numbers have a significant impact on the institution’s operating budget, he added.

The renovations and new degrees “are important in helping us attract and retain undergraduate students in an increasingly competitive market,” Hallick pointed out in her address.

The planned renovations are intended to respond to changes in Pacific’s traditional student pool — 18-year-olds right out of high school.

“There’s a growing number of choices people of all ages have in terms of what they want to do,” Lang said. “The traditional student route — right from high school to college — is declining, for a variety of reasons. We’re really looking at the cultural and demographic trends so we can engage the interests of prospective students.”

The preliminary plan places a new LEED-certified (LEED buildings promote building design and material choices that save money, conserve energy, reduce water consumption and improve indoor air quality) building on Hillsboro’s Health Professions Campus and a new residence hall on Reynolds Field on University Avenue in Forest Grove.

Pacific’s optometry department would leave the Forest Grove campus — the Pacific Eye Clinic would stay — and move to the proposed new building in Hillsboro, freeing up space on Forest Grove’s campus and unifying the Health Professions campus.

The new building will be constructed next to the Intermodal Transit Facility near the intersection of Washington Street and Eighth Avenue in downtown Hillsboro. The site, currently a parking lot, is across the street from Creighton Hall.

In fall 2014, Pacific will offer its first online-only bachelor’s degree — a health science program administered in Hillsboro aimed at working professionals. Students in that program are included in the increased enrollment goal, but won’t require classroom space.

Lang said university leaders will likely put out “requests for proposals” in coming weeks.

Before they determine any specifics, he added, university leaders will have to meet with architectural firms to estimate costs, and it’s all contingent on refinancing — which will take several weeks — and additional fundraising and donations.

As a result of the current low interest rates, Pacific University’s Board of Trustees gave administrators the go-ahead to refinance bond debt with the city of Forest Grove and the city of Hillsboro. By using the city to issue the bonds, Pacific can get tax-exempt rates.




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  • 27 Jul 2014

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  • 28 Jul 2014

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