Clackamas Community College reflects on past year's achievements
Clackamas Community College President Dr. Tim Cook's annual State of the College address looked back on a year with no shortage of accomplishments for the school amid a number of challenges including a global pandemic, a volatile economy and workforce shifts.
Standing before dozens of faculty, students and community members in attendance virtually and in-person on Friday, April 22, Cook said the school's mission and values are the core of its strategic plan for fall 2021 through spring 2026, centered around a vision of "empowering individuals" and "strengthening communities" through education that is "equitable, innovative and responsive."
He said the plan provides the school a roadmap for accomplishing goals in priority areas including "excellence in teaching and learning" as well as "holistic student support," with commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. He added the college has organizational health standards that he said involve "looking inward and making sure the vitality of our staff or institution is healthy."
"To provide the greatest value in a rapidly changing environment, it's crucial we establish these clear priorities and strategies," Cook said, adding that this includes being purposeful in establishing and nurturing strong connections with community partners supporting student growth through internship and apprenticeship programs offering students real-world experience in their fields of study.
Cook noted that several programs within the school's Technology, Applied Science and Public Services division have "completely redesigned" their curricula to support student access, retention and completion in fields such as Machine Tool Technology, Automotive Services, Geographic Information Systems, Medical Billing and Coding.
For example, he said, the Machine Tool Technology program is responding to an identified need for more trained workers in computer-operated machining by offering a short-term certificate for students entering jobs in manufacturing after just one term of roughly three months as they work towards their degree and further certification.
To date, Cook said the school additionally supports upwards of 1,200 student apprenticeships through 12 registered programs in trades of building and construction, utilities, manufacturing and education "by providing committee administration, curriculum development, student services, classroom lab space and faculty."
According to Cook, in 2020-21, CCC partnered with 46 high schools across 24 different school districts offering dual-credit programs to over 3,600 students who account for 19% of the college's full-time student population. Students in these programs earned a total of nearly 30,000 credits that saved families a combined nearly $2.8 million.
The school additionally offers summer camps for youth of all ages, which Cook said provides "opportunities to engage with community, introduce CCC to kids and get them thinking about college." Cook said that his first experience with the college was at astronomy and archeaology camps he attended when he was about 10 years old.
Cook said that from July 2020 through the present, CCC was awarded nearly $3 million through 17 grants including the $500,000 Wildfire Recovery Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, providing training and full-time seasonal employment to 20 participants through Clackamas Workforce Partnership and Clackamas Fire District #1.
"Participants earned up to $22 an hour while participating in a training academy and earning wildland fire and wildland fire chainsaw certifications," Cook said, adding that they received support in repairing damage caused by the 2020 wildfires. "It goes without saying how much we need wildland firefighters in our county and throughout Oregon."
Cook highlighted the February groundbreaking of Clackamas Volunteers In Medicine's new health care clinic, which will be relocating to Clackamas Community College after a decade of providing comprehensive health care services to thousands of county residents free of charge.
He also noted the work of the CCC Foundation, which in 2021 "distributed nearly $1 million in support of students through scholarships, emergency grants, child care, transportation, textbooks, veteran support and other awards," and in April hired a new executive director in Debra Mason, formerly of the Clackamas Service Center.
Cook said that in January 2021 was the grand opening of CCC's new student services and community center called the Wacheno Welcome Center, the last of the major projects from the school's 2014 bond. Named after Chief Dan Wacheno of the Clackamas tribe, Cook described the building as "the one place students go to get a variety of services, such as advising, financial aid, counseling and other resources."
"We've also implemented student-employer navigators to support students in accessing resources and supports…to pay for college and access support such as childcare, transportation and housing," Cook said, adding that navigators support business outreach.
Student activity programs such as athletics and performing arts are back following pandemic-related interruptions, which Cook said "has been a delight to see" and that students engaging in campus activities is "the heart of the community and the college." Major successes include CCC's wrestling team winning the NJCAA National Championship for the fourth consecutive year on March 5.
Cook said he is proud of the school's work in addressing issues of diversity and inequity to make the campus a more inclusive environment, including offering a series of trainings taken by over 200 employees designed to "build an understanding of the systemic nature of racial inequity, and to build a shared language to discuss systemic inequities and engage in authentic conversations about race."
He said the school's Data Integrity Group uses an equity lens to support the college in "becoming more welcoming and inclusive to students and employees, by reviewing and updating definitions and guidelines" around uses of legal and chosen name, legal sex, gender, sexual orientation and personal pronouns.
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