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Message from the President

Dear Willamette community,

At Willamette, we’re always thinking about what it means to be a leading and innovative university in the 21st century. We strive to create student-centered programs and to facilitate distinctive cross-school collaborations, all while controlling costs and identifying more areas where Willamette can be a regional and national leader.

To that end, I’m pleased to announce that Willamette University and the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland will forge a new relationship that will redefine the future of arts education in the Pacific Northwest and strengthen the arts as an economic, cultural, and creative driver for the region.

PNCA, the Northwest’s oldest professional school for art and design, will become an integrated part of Willamette while retaining its name, identity, faculty, and 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. PNCA will become Willamette’s fourth college, joining the distinguished College of Arts and Sciences, College of Law and Atkinson Graduate School of Management, along with the affiliated Claremont School of Theology and Tokyo International University of America.

PNCA’s dynamic faculty and community complement Willamette’s educational approach and history of arts instruction, and this collaboration will expand academic opportunities for students at both institutions. Willamette students will benefit from the broader fine and visual arts offerings provided by PNCA, as well as the culture and creativity of its community in Portland. PNCA students will have access to the breadth of curricular offerings at Willamette, including humanities, science and business courses, and benefit from its proximity to policymaking and government in Salem.

This relationship and our shared values will deepen the connections among art, design, and the liberal arts and sciences, building a foundation for new thought and expressions in important subjects like racial and social justice, climate change, and health. Closely tying these areas together – and combining our respective strengths – will help us better equip our students to lead substantive change in the world.

In the coming months, and as our faculties begin to engage more closely with each other, we hope to design innovative new degree programs and pathways in fields such as arts management, museum studies, and more. I’ve asked Dean Ruth Feingold to serve as special assistant to the president and provost to help coordinate and introduce the PNCA faculty to the various Willamette faculties. Sarah Kirk has been asked to step in as interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Both appointments will run through the end of the calendar year.

I’ll share more information with you as it becomes available, and in the meantime please visit the website for more information.

Thank you for your support. I look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead.