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Community will weigh in on new PCC president

The next president of Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus may not be selected by the end of the year as originally planned. by: COURTESY PHOTO - Portland Community College President Jeremy Brown praises Rock Creek programs for first in family students.

But PCC President Jeremy Brown promises the public will have a chance to meet and respond to the finalists before the selection is made.

“Applicants are being evaluated and a list of finalists will be presented to me. I’ll make the decision after the public has had a chance to weigh in,” said Brown.

Brown made the promise last week during a meeting with editors and reporters from the Hillsboro Tribune and Portland Tribune. He was chosen approximately six months ago to replace former PCC President Preston Pulliams, who retired. Pulliams appointed Birgitte Ryslinge as interim Rock Creek president before he left. She has been the dean of instruction for the campus.

In addition to following the Rock Creek president selection process, Brown said he was aware of concerns that new residential development in the adjacent North Bethany area will increase traffic congestion on roads leading to and from the campus.

Brown said he has told campus officials to continue working with Washington County to ensure access to the campus.

And Brown praised the Future Connect program on the campus that recruits and works with students who are the first members of the families to go to college. Approximately 100 students from

Hillsboro and Beaverton are currently involved in the program, Brown said, and few have dropped out.

Although Brown was only hired in April, he has already visited all of PCC’s nine campuses and centers, which serve approximately 83,000 students in Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas, Yamhill and Columbia counties. In addition to the Rock Creek campus, Washington County residents are served by the Hillsboro Center and Willow Creek Center in Hillsboro. Both are located adjacent to the westside MAX light rail line.

Four months into his job, Brown joked: “College presidents sleep like [babies]. They wake up screaming every hour of the night.”

The native of England became PCC’s sixth president on Oct. 30 after 13 years of working at East Coast colleges. He acknowledges taking the job when higher education is coming under more scrutiny than ever before.

“What is the value of going to college?” he said. “What is it we’re actually about?”

Brown’s response is that PCC is different than other institutions because of the breadth of offerings — everything from a one-year certificate to a two-year degree, dual credit programs, GED programs, work force development and more.

“We want to think of ourselves as training someone to think beyond the textbook, beyond the labs,” he said.

Brown added that part of his goal is to educate people about the breadth of opportunities offered at PCC’s campuses, including Rock Creek. It and the others have been growing, in part because of a construction bond approved by the voters in 2008.

Enrollment is up 40 percent in the entire system in the last five years, said Brown. At the same time, state support is decreasing, meaning Brown is spending much of his time seeking partnerships with the private sector to meet PCC’s growing needs.

The biggest challenge, Brown said, is to try to predict what the PCC system will look like in 10 years’ time.

“We’re in really exponentially changing times,” he said. “What will my mark [on the system] be? I get asked that a lot. It’s not my mark, my vision.

“It’s our collective efforts that will move us forward.”




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