At nearly 80, Clark College still growing, Knight says

President also details budget challenges in annual address

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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Clark College President Bob Knight opened his annual State of the College address Thursday by contrasting the more robust economy during the college's 75th anniversary in 2008 to today, as it prepares to celebrate its 80th anniversary Oct. 1.

In 2008, the state funded about 60 percent of Clark's budget. Today, the state funds only about 40 percent. That difference has led to budget cuts, tuition increases for students and a 3 percent pay cut for all college employees.

Knight addressed the college's expansion plans to build a satellite campus in north or central Clark County, but did not announce where the campus would be built. On its main campus, the college plans to build a STEM education facility scheduled to open in fall 2015.

He said Clark College isn't the small college people remember.

"We're big — and we're growing," he said.

Serving 26,000 students annually, Clark College is the state's largest single-campus community college in terms of for-credit classes. It has the largest Running Start program, with 1,800 high school students. It has a larger engineering department than any other community or technical college in the Pacific Northwest.

At last year's State of the College Address, Knight introduced the Penguin Promise program to provide scholarships for some members of the Boys and Girls Club to complete their education at Clark and to compete for a transfer scholarship to a four-year university. So far, the Clark College Foundation has received commitments for $522,000 for the program.

"Especially in our times of rapid growth and change, Clark College turning 80 is an impressive achievement," Knight said.

He added that many octogenarians describe themselves as "vibrant, healthy and with a special vitality." He said those characteristics are true not only for the college, but also had described Bob Moser, the school's former director of public relations who died at age 82 last month.

Moser, who worked at Clark for 30 years, enjoyed attending the school's basketball games. Knight last saw Moser a couple of days before his death at an exhibition game. Moser was leaving early because there wasn't any popcorn. Knight invited those in the audience to attend a 5 p.m. Feb. 16 game and promised free popcorn to all who attend, in honor of Moser.

"Bob never lost his sense of excitement," Knight said. "He left a great legacy of service at our college and in our community."

Susan Parrish: 360-735-4515; http://twitter.com/col_schools;susan.parrish@columbian.com.