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State of the College: Good news, challenges at Clark

President Bob Knight gives annual address

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published: January 21, 2016, 6:55pm

Clark College President Bob Knight shared plentiful good news during his annual State of the College address Thursday in Gaiser Hall.

The $39 million STEM Building on the west side of Fort Vancouver Way will open in late spring. The college will celebrate the completion of the 70,000-square-foot science, technology, engineering and math building in the fall.

The addition of two C-Tran bus rapid transit stations on Fort Vancouver Way near the STEM Building should help alleviate the lack of ample parking on campus.

A redesigned culinary arts program will return in the fall. The program was suspended a few years ago to revamp it. Two new faculty members are developing curriculum and building community partnerships. Eventually, high school students enrolled in the culinary arts program at the Clark County Skills Center will be able to receive up to two quarters of college credit when they enroll at Clark College.

It’s not only the culinary program that’s being revamped. The culinary arts space will undergo a $10 million remodel, too. The space will include a state-of-the-art kitchen and a restaurant open to the community. In the interim, the college might rent space in the old Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay to house the program, Knight said.

Clark College by the numbers

Student enrollment fall 2015: 11,444.

Number of degree programs: 154.

Number of graduates in 2015: 1,518.

Fields of study: 47.

Average student age: 26.

First-generation college students: 75 percent.

Tuition: Washington residents taking 15 credits a quarter for three quarters pay $3,930 a year for lower-division (001-299) courses, and $7,266 a year for upper-division (300-499) courses.

The college’s automotive department is adding a Honda program to its existing Toyota Technician Training and Education Network program.

Clark College also will present a plan to the state Board of Community and Technical Colleges to add a new degree, a bachelor of applied science in management. Knight said the college hopes to begin offering the degree program late this year.

Satellite campus

A number of representatives from Ridgefield, including the city and the port, expressed their excitement about the college’s anticipated north county satellite campus. Clark College at Boschma Farms is expected to be built on 59 acres in Ridgefield near Interstate 5.

In 2014, the nonprofit Clark College Foundation paid $5.67 million to the Boschma family for the parcel. In addition, the Boschma family made a $3.1 million land donation.

Knight looked toward the Ridgefield contingent and said, “We’re coming!”

The design money for the project will be available during the 2017-19 biennium, and construction should begin in late 2019 or early 2020, Knight said.

Not all is rosy

But not all is rosy at Clark College. Student enrollment for fall 2015 was 5.6 percent lower than the previous fall. Since the economy began picking up following the recession, student enrollment has declined. Lower enrollment is a common result of an improving economy.

“We need to take $2 million out of the budget due to enrollment declines,” he said.

An ongoing challenge is the large number of first-generation college students. With about 75 percent of Clark’s students being first-generation college students, some students need more support. To ease that transition into college, new students will be required to enroll in College 101, a new course geared toward college success. It will provide an introduction to Clark College, student resources, college technology and financial literacy.

“We’re also working on more face-to-face interaction with students,” Knight said.


Knight also acknowledged four faculty and staff members for exemplary service by awarding them presidential coins of excellence. Those employees are: Karen Driscoll, director of financial aid; Maria Masson, assistant director of human resources and Title IX coordinator; Ken Pacheco, director of security and safety; and biology instructor Kathleen Perillo.