Welcome from the President
In the fall of 1977, a sign went up in the Williams Building, in downtown The Dalles, on Fourth and Washington Streets. The Wasco Area Education Service District opened its doors to students from all walks of life and all levels of previous education. We offered community education classes, adult literacy and mathematics instruction. Within a few years, the name was changed to Treaty Oak Education Center, and in 1989, local citizens voted to make Treaty Oak a community college, and to change the name to Columbia Gorge. The college moved to its current location, on East Scenic Drive, in 1994, and opened a permanent building in Hood River in 2008. We are always growing, always changing, to reflect the growth and change of the area and the needs of our constituency.
In 2017, CGCC will celebrate 40 years of serving the Mid-Columbia Region. Many things have changed: our name, our resources, and the demographics of our students. In all that time, though, one thing has remained constant—our unwavering and sincere commitment to providing educational opportunities that strengthen our community. We do that through our mission, our vision, and our values. We do it by focusing on service, innovation, caring, community partnerships, and most importantly, student-focused instruction.
We do not exist merely to be an employer, though we are one of the larger employers in the area. We do not exist to make money, because we are a not-for-profit institution. We exist because we believe that the best way to serve our community is by giving the people of the Mid-Columbia the opportunity to gain knowledge that improves their lives. Here are some of the ways we serve.
Innovation: We constantly innovate to keep up with the needs of our students and our community. We provide technology training for students who are going into the workforce, and academic skills development for those who are transferring to 4-year institutions. Recently, we completed a new Academic Master Plan that will guide our focus for the next few years. Careful, intentional planning like this allows us to stay on top of current needs and make the best use of our limited budget. If it seems like we’re constantly changing, that’s because we are. We know changing to keep up with the times is one of the most important things we can do for our students. What good is it to learn outdated skills? Our students deserve to have access to the latest and best instruction we can provide.
Caring: Besides providing classes for career and technical skill development or university-bound transfer students, we also provide and support programs that enrich people’s lives. Our community education programs are available at low-cost, and serve a wide group of people. Our Pre-College programs offer instruction to students whose skills are not yet at college-level, so that they can get ahead at work or continue with their college career. Gorge Literacy offers free literacy tutoring and support services to adults who need help. The GED prep program and test proctoring services prepare GED seekers for their test and guide them through the process. Child Care Partners is a resource and referral service that provides required training and helps connect parents and providers. We provide and support these programs because we care about the community’s needs, and because we realize that those needs are as widely diverse as our population. Most of the people you’ll find on our campuses aren’t traditional students. We care about the needs of the whole community, not just a single slice.
Community Partnerships: Over the years, we have partnered with many businesses, government agencies, other schools, and community organizations to bring opportunities to our students. We actively ask community employers what skills they want from applicants, and make sure our students have access to the tools they need to develop those skills. Many students choose a local option because they want to stay in the region, so we do our best to make sure they can find a place within our community once they leave our programs.
Student-focused Instruction: This is the most important thing we do. Without students, we have no reason to exist, so we strive to keep the goals and needs of our students in mind when we decide which programs to offer. We use the data from state-required tracking measures to evaluate our current progress in student success and student satisfaction, and apply what we learn to shaping our methods to serve students in the best ways possible.
We trot our mission out pretty often. “Columbia Gorge Community College builds dreams and transforms lives by providing lifelong educational programs that strengthen the community.” We say it because we mean it. We live it. We believe it.
We also believe in you. Thank you, for believing in us. For the last 40 years, the Mid-Columbia region and the communities we serve here have supported us, and we have been grateful for that support.
Here’s to the next 40 years.