Portland Community College President Jeremy Brown, Ph.D., has big shoes to fill. As the successor to beloved former PCC President Preston Pulliams, Brown has been in the chair since last July, transitioning from Dowling College in Long Island, N.Y. and Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. The Skanner News spoke with Brown this week about his commitment to continue the diversity efforts pioneered by his predecessor.
The Skanner News: Dr. Brown you are going to be keynoting the City Club of Portland address this week. What is your vision for diversity, and for making sure students of color are represented and get as many opportunities as they can in the system? People are especially protective of the Jefferson Middle College Program.
Jeremy Brown: Let me just backtrack a little bit in terms of following in the footsteps of Preston Pulliams, who did just a fantastic job.
And of course, in terms of leadership transition, one of the smart things to do is obviously figure out what's working well and not change those things. One of the things that’s really been at the forefront of the mission of the college is our commitment to diversity.
That's clearly not going to change, and it's something that I feel very strongly about in terms of our mission with respect to meeting the needs of a very diverse community and of course looking for opportunities to grow on that.
That's very important to us and as we talk about the future, it's just trying to find opportunities to reach out to students in the district who perhaps for one reason or another don't have college on their radar, and providing them the vehicle to come to college
The Jefferson High School Middle College Program is one of the things that we talk regularly about as something that is really successful, and something that we would like to duplicate at other schools. We've talked extensively this past week, especially during the legislative session, about the Future Connect program and how we’re able to provide opportunities for students to come to PCC and to be successful.
We've been very successful in the city of Portland, the City of Hillsboro and the City of Beaverton in providing resources for the students to enable them to come to college with extensive support services, and we've been so successful that now there is some legislation, which we hope will come to fruition, that will enable us to provide support throughout the state for programs very similar to this.
TSN: What you think is the most important thing for the African and African-American communities to know about your vision for this community college system?
Brown: I think the most important thing to know is we have a really strong commitment to access, and affordability. And it's something that is really ingrained in everything that we do.
And of course, we have as part of our mission statement a commitment to the personal development of the diverse students and the communities that we serve. We really want for people to think of PCC as a possibility, rather than something that is not on the radar. And as we talk about meeting the state’s 40-40-20 goals, we play a role not just in terms of the middle 40, which is students getting a two year associate’s degree, but also providing the opportunities for students to transfer to four-year institutions and playing a role in the other 40 percent.
And then of course working very closely with K-12 students, to ensure we can help with the “20” part of that, which is 100 percent of students having a high school degree or equivalent by 2025.
You know I think there's a great opportunity for us to strengthen the ties with the African-American community, and we hope to nurture those relationships in the future, and continue to encourage them to let us know ways that we can improve.
Especially as we are embarking on our strategic planning process in which we're looking five years down the road and we are engaging the community to help us, in essence, define better how we can meet their needs. We’re the community college, which means we're a college for the community, and we need to listen to our communities and what they're telling us.
Find more about Brown’s City Club of Portland address at www.pdxcityclub.org. More about Portland Community College at www.pcc.edu.