Willamette University, Pacific Northwest College of Art to explore partnership

Willamette University and Pacific Northwest College of Art Sign Agreement for PNCA to Become Part of University

PNCA will Join Willamette as an Independent College within the University

Willamette University and the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) announced today that they have entered into an agreement for the Northwest’s oldest professional school of art and design to become an integral part of the region’s premier liberal arts university.

This relationship will allow the two institutions to pursue deeper and more permanent collaborative engagements through academic programs and shared administrative support, as well as to create cost-controlling efficiencies.

“PNCA becoming part of Willamette University positions the Northwest’s oldest school of art and design as an integral – and integrated – piece of the region’s premier liberal arts university,” said Willamette University President Stephen Thorsett. “This coming-together builds on the distinguished histories of both institutions, which were the first in Oregon to offer art instruction. Together, this combination will amplify the Northwest as a cultural and economic hub for the arts and innovative leadership.”

Under the agreement, which is expected to receive regulatory and accreditor approvals in 2021, PNCA will be an independent college and part of Willamette University. PNCA will maintain its name, faculty and its campus in Portland. The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, as well as PNCA’s other academic centers and collections, will also become a part of Willamette University under the agreement.

“The decision by PNCA to enter into discussions with Willamette University was intentional and strategic for the college’s future,” said PNCA Board Chair Scott D. Musch. “For more than 100 years, PNCA has contributed to the cultural vibrancy of the region. We are confident as PNCA joins Willamette that the college's legacy and longstanding commitment to our students will be further enhanced.”

PNCA will become the fourth college within the university, joining the Willamette University College of Law, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. It also joins the affiliated Claremont School of Theology and Tokyo International University of America.

“The joining of these institutions will unlock enormous potential and new opportunities for students while helping shape the art world,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust and a Willamette alumnus. “For PNCA students, Willamette's distinguished, comprehensive programs in the liberal arts, law and management offer a practical foundation for vibrant creative fields from arts management to user-experience design and digital marketing. At the same time, PNCA’s deep well of creative insight will give Willamette students a stronger, meaningful grounding in the arts to elevate their lifelong growth. Together, these communities will build up the practical application and influence of the arts across society – right when we need the arts the most.”

The relationship will deepen the connections among art, design and the liberal arts and sciences, building a foundation for new thought and expressions in subjects such as racial and social justice, climate change and health. PNCA students will have access to the breadth of curricular offerings at Willamette, including business and science courses, and benefit from its proximity to policymaking and government in Salem. Willamette students will benefit from the broader fine and visual arts and design offerings provided by PNCA, as well as the culture and creativity of its community in Portland.

Based in Salem, Oregon, Willamette University is the premier private liberal arts university in the Pacific Northwest—the only university in the country that appears on both the U.S. News Best National Liberal Arts Colleges list and the Forbes and Businessweek best business schools list. With its unique proximity to the state capital, Willamette is a national leader in civic engagement, delivering an “Only at Willamette” education.

Pacific Northwest College of Art empowers artists and designers to reimagine what art and design can do in the world. Founded in 1909 as the Museum Art School in Portland, Oregon, PNCA offers 11 art and design Bachelor of Fine Art programs, eight graduate programs including Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs within the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies, a Post-Baccalaureate program, and Community Education courses for artists and designers of all ages.


Back to Top