Portland Community College SE Center grows from ‘Center’ to ‘Campus’

Find out how and why new buildings were added to this institution of higher learning, right in outer East Portland …

Gathered on the third floor of the new Portland Community College Southeast Center Student Commons building, a crowd of well-wishers gathers for the official opening remarks.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland Community College Southeast “Center”, on SE Division Street at SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, was promoted to being a “Campus” on April 11, when officials celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony the opening of the new Southeast Center Library and the new Student Commons Building.

Years ago, the “PCC Southeast Center” was a single building – which now houses the Fubonn Shopping Center at 2850 SE 82nd Avenue.

Southeast/Extended Learning Campus President Jessica Howard welcomes all to the campus’s grand opening.

Now, at their present location, the two new buildings expand learning opportunities that were formerly available only in Mt. Scott Hall and Mt. Tabor Hall, explained Southeast/Extended Learning Campus President Jessica Howard. “These buildings provide opportunities that are not just symbolic and representational, they are tangible ad dynamic!”

The Student Commons Building is a new three-story, 66,000-square-foot structure that houses an expanded bookstore, five science classrooms/labs, six general purpose classrooms, four career technical education/computer classrooms, a new answer center for better student service delivery, and a new STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), center, Howard said.

The new PCC Southeast Center Library houses more than books – it’s an educational resource center.

The Library is a three-story, 40,000-square-foot facility that contains the Student Computing Center, Student Learning Center (including tutoring services), Volunteer Literacy Center, plus traditional library services, four classrooms, and study areas.

The new buildings are proof that the college has “paid off promises” of improvement, says PCC President Dr. Jeremy Brown.

“Thank you for coming to celebrate the ‘transformational work’ here at the Southeast Center,” said Portland Community College President Dr. Jeremy Brown.

“And thank you, the taxpayers, for passing the $374 million Bond, the largest bond at that time in 2008, that earmarked $48 million to upgrade the Southeast Center. It is a great celebration today, to say thank you for doing that, and for your confidence and trust in us.

“We promised to use these funds to expand workforce training programs, update equipment and technology, construct energy-efficient buildings, provide enhanced student services, and increase classroom capacity,” Brown reminded. “Today we bear witness to the fact that we are delivering on all these promises.”

The PCC Southeast Center Student Commons houses science labs and a student resource center.

Brown also pointed out that the project includes overhauling the former German-American Society building, built in 1911, which will house administration offices, the community education program, classrooms, and a community hall. “Some say that the building is haunted, but I don’t know about that,” Brown grinned.

To the west of that building along SE Division Street, the college will use the former Kaiser Medical Offices at SE 76th Avenue for further expansion.

Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer remarks, “The first thing I thought today when I walked into the Southeast Center is that this is now a college campus.”

Additional speakers, including Oregon Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D) and Walsh Construction Project Manager Jeff Patton, congratulated one another for the completion of the project.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz celebrates the “transformation” of the Southeast Center campus.

“What a joyful day to celebration the transformation of this campus,” exclaimed Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “For years, our students have been way ahead of our investments. Now, our investments are catching up to the needs of our students, as we invest in these facilities.”

PCC Board Chair Denise Frisbee, Southeast/Extended Learning Campus President Jessica Howard, Chief of Staff to the Executive Director of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission Cheryl Myers, and PCC President Jeremy Brown, together handle the big scissors, while Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz helps hold the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony.

The happy throng headed outside and gathered for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony. After the ribbon was severed, many took advantage of the hospitality offered, in the form of punch and cake inside the Student Commons lobby.

PCC employees Janis Nichols and Karen Kane cut and serve the celebration cake.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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