In 1947, the Truman Commission (President Truman's commission on higher education) advocated for the establishment of a system of "community colleges" to create more equitable access to higher education. This system would be part of a set of innovations with a shared purpose:
"Equal opportunity for all persons, to the maximum of their individual abilities and without regard to economic status, race, creed, color, sex, national origin, or ancestry is a major goal of American democracy. Only an informed, thoughtful, tolerant people can develop and maintain a free society."
Portland Community College grew out of the soil tilled by the Truman Commission. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is grounded in the democratic ideal of community colleges as "Democracy's College."
That is why in the face of the torch-lit hatred the world witnessed on Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Va., we want to state unequivocally that PCC will always remain faithful to our mission and values. We denounce racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism and other forms of hatred or bigotry. We welcome and embrace a "collaborative culture of diversity, equity and inclusion," even when there are forces attempting to separate us from our values and each other.
We call — once again — for the community to stand together in the face of intolerance and fear.
Our mission and values compel us to continuously acknowledge that societal inequities are often perpetuated through disparities in academic opportunities and educational outcomes. These understandings serve as a foundation of our institutional commitment to pursuing and realizing equitable student success, and provide just one of many examples of how what we do every day can help change the arc of our students' lives.
PCC will continue to create and offer opportunities to learn about and dismantle racism, to practice compassion and care—across the college and across the curriculum.
The tragedies in Charlottesville showed us that we still have a way to go. We are confident that our shared values and commitment will ultimately sustain us as we continue our journey there together.
Mark Mitsui is president of Portland Community College. Kali Thorne Ladd is chairwoman of the PCC Board of Directors.