Sandra Fowler-Hill looks forward to fostering partnerships with local industry

The new year brings a new leader to Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus.

Sandra Fowler-Hill, executive vice president of instruction and student services at Everett Community College in northern Washington, was chosen as the new president for the Rock Creek Campus at 17705 N.W. Springville Road, said PCC President Jeremy Brown.

She will start in her new role in April.

Fowler-Hill, 61, replaces David Rule, who left the position in December 2012 to become president of Bellevue College in Washington. Birgitte Ryslinge, the Rock Creek campus’ dean of instruction, served as the interim campus SUBMITTED PHOTO: PCC - Sandra Fowler-Hill will take the helm of one of Portland Community College's fastest growing campuses, which serves nearly 26,000 students annually.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Fowler-Hill will be joining the Portland Community College team as president of the Rock Creek Campus,” Brown said. “She brings a uniquely strong and diverse background in academic leadership, student services, and creating and sustaining partnerships with business, industry and local communities and schools. I am eagerly looking forward to working with Dr. Fowler-Hill in enhancing PCC’s services (in) Washington and Columbia counties.”

Fowler-Hill joined the Everett Community College team in 2007 and served in the role of chief academic officer since 2012. Before Everett, Fowler-Hill served as dean for student learning and the executive dean at Cascadia Community College in Bothell, Wash.

She earned a doctorate in community college leadership from Oregon State University, a master’s degree in human development counseling from Sangamon State University in Springfield, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree from George Williams College in Downers Grove, Ill.

In her new role, Fowler-Hill will take over one of PCC’s fastest growing campuses, which college officials say serves almost 26,000 students each year. To accommodate a 40 percent enrollment growth in the past five years, the PCC bond program is funding constructing of building additions, seismic upgrades, building and classroom renovations, and electrical and telecommunications upgrades.

Fowler-Hill took a few moments on Monday to talk with the Beaverton Valley Times about her background and new role at PCC-Rock Creek.

Valley Times: You’ve lived and learned in the Pacific Northwest, the northeast and the midwest. Tell us a little about your background.

Sandra Fowler-Hill: “I grew up in west Texas and ended up going to college in Downers Grove, Ill. It was a small liberal arts college. I completed my first graduate degree in Illinois. My husband’s position (as executive director of Seabeck Conference Center in Washington) at a non-profit retreat center brought us to the Northwest. I fell in love with the Northwest. I’ve never seen a place as beautiful as the Northwest. I’m happy I can continue to stay here.”

Valley Times: What attracted you to PCC-Rock Creek?

Fowler-Hill: “I’ve been familiar with PCC for many years. I’ve watched it grow and become recognized nationally as a stellar college. I knew David Rule, who’s now the president at Bellevue. When the job was posted, it seemed like a great fit. It seemed I’d accumulated the skills and experience necessary to be successful in that role. I explored the community and realized it would be a great community to work in.”

Valley Times: What do you see that’s unique about PCC-Rock Creek and its surrounding community?

Fowler-Hill: “I’m impressed with the partnerships with the industry in the area, which are leading to a well-trained workforce on the Westside. Intel with its microelectronics program. Caterpillar (equipment) with its Think Big program. These appear to be very successful in helping to train a well-qualified workforce. There seems to be some positive relationships already built. I’ll look forward to building upon it. There is a growing population with a wide range of demographics. I’m interested in the increase of Hispanic students moving to the area and how Rock Creek is addressing those needs. There are transfer programs in place preparing students, and a number of students have transferred to Portland State. The work (PCC) is doing is something to be proud of. It’s serving the Westside in some very effective ways.”

Valley Times: Enrollment at PCC-Rock Creek has grown significantly in recent years. How will the recovering economy affect enrollment going forward?

Fowler-Hill: “My experience here is that when the economy is slow and people can’t get employment, they tend to go to school. I think that is a trend with national colleges. When more people go back to work, they may not continue their schooling, but they may return later to get a promotion or continue their study.

“It appears there’s population growth happening there, with new employers and industries creating more job opportunities. The role community colleges fill is to help train a qualified workforce, not just for entry level (roles) but to provide training as industries continue to grow.”

Valley Times: What do you look forward to in your new role?

Fowler-Hill: “My husband (Larry) and I plan to relocate in Washington County. We look forward to making our home there. I’m really excited to get to know the faculty and staff of the college. What my plan is, as soon as I arrive in April, is after internally meeting everyone in the college is getting out throughout the counties and be able to meet those community leaders. I’m interested in who they are and what their needs are.

“I am very excited about assuming this position. My husband and I are really looking forward to being involved in the community.”

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