Clark College strives to meet student needs

2012 brought largest graduating class in its history

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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Clark College continues to evolve by expanding its offerings to meet the community’s needs. Founded in 1933, it is the state’s second-largest community college and supports learning for 26,290 residents. During the 2011-2012 academic year, Clark was the largest single-campus provider of for-credit classes in the state’s community and technical college system.

Its 76th commencement in June 2012 was the largest graduating class in its history. More than 1,700 students earned degrees and certificates during the 2011-2012 academic year. By fall 2012, part- or full-time enrollment totaled 15,449 students, including 1,820 high school students who earned tuition-free Running Start college credit.

Clark has fully embraced Internet-based e-learning. By fall 2012, more than 2,453 students were enrolled in online-only courses.

In January 2013, Clark moved its Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language and specialized job training back to its main campus after it closed its Town Plaza campus. Clark’s Corporate and Continuing Education moved downtown to the West Coast Bank Building. The 70,000-square-foot Clark College at Columbia Tech Center, also part of Corporate and Continuing Education, served 1,882 students, or 716 FTE, in fall 2012.

Clark’s associate nursing department, one of the state’s largest, graduates between 115 and 140 nurses annually and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012. A $1.5 million gift from the Firstenburg Foundation will expand the school’s dental hygiene program. Its clinic fills 3,200 dental appointments annually. Columbia Credit Union’s $65,000 gift will enhance Clark’s pharmacy technician program, with the construction of a simulation pharmacy at the WSU Vancouver campus by fall 2013.

Clark’s new mechatronics program graduated its first class in 2012. The only program of its kind in the state, it combines multiple fields of engineering to prepare students for careers as varied as robotic factory lines and aerospace research.

Clark offers basic skills at public schools in the Battle Ground, Evergreen and Vancouver districts and at WorkSource in Stevenson and White Salmon in the Columbia River Gorge.

The Clark Center at WSU Vancouver serves hundreds of students. With WSU Vancouver’s upper-division courses, the two schools have teamed to make a stay-at-home, four-year college track possible.

Clark has formal agreements with Portland State, Marylhurst and Concordia universities that translate to easy registration and service for transfer students.

Clark students can earn Eastern Washington University bachelor’s or master’s degrees in social work and technology, and a dental hygiene bachelor’s degree, with instruction from visiting EWU faculty.

The Royce E. Pollard Japanese Friendship Garden was dedicated as part of the college’s 2012 Sakura Festival. The school’s Dale Beacock Music Hall also was unveiled in 2012 in memory of Clark’s longtime band director.

Clark College plans to break ground on a 70,000-square-foot Science, Technology, Engineering and Math building by spring 2014. Faculty and staff will collaborate with industry and other educational institutions to foster exploration, interactive learning and innovative teaching techniques.