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State approves $51M building for three colleges and city offices in downtown Portland
Author: Kenny Ma, PSU Media and Public Relations
Posted: August 16, 2017

The State Legislature recently approved $51 million in bonds to fund an education and health center that will house city offices and Portland’s three largest public colleges on Portland State University’s downtown campus. 

The $100-million building will be home to the PSU Graduate School of Education, the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, the Portland Community College dental programs and a City of Portland bureau that’s yet to be determined. Lawmakers’ approval of state bonds completes the building’s funding package with the rest of the amount coming from all four partners and philanthropy. 

Located at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street, the building will be the first time all three campuses and the city share one space. At 200,000 square feet and nine stories tall, the building will have classrooms, a dental clinic, and low-cost mental health services for the public, along with ground-floor retail and restaurants. It’s expected to open in 2020 and be one of the largest academic buildings on PSU’s main campus. Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2018.

“This is the first time our city’s three public institutions of higher education have been together in one building, and it will improve our system of higher education,” Mayor Ted Wheeler has said.

David Bangsberg, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health dean said: “The support of the Legislature, Gov. Kate Brown and the community serves as inspiration for the ongoing health and education of all Oregonians. With a permanent home on the horizon, Portland’s first public health school will be in better position to educate tomorrow’s health leaders, and help improve wellness and end health disparity across the region.”

Marvin Lynn, Dean of the Graduate School of Education said: “This state-of-the-art facility will offer many exciting opportunities for cross-departmental and inter-institutional collaborations that will further bolster the GSE faculty’s strong teaching and research activities. I am grateful to former GSE dean, Randy Hitz, who worked tirelessly on establishing a new home for the school. I am also deeply grateful to state and university leaders for acknowledging our work with this tremendous investment."

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health was created in July 2016 with a vision of educating the next generation of public health leaders to confront and combat the underlying causes of health disparity throughout Oregon. Since then, the school—which has been temporarily housed in multiple locations including PSU, OHSU and the Collaborative Life Sciences Building on Portland’s South Waterfront—has enrolled more than 1,200 undergraduates and 250 graduate students pursuing degrees in 16 public health programs.   

The school and forthcoming building represent an expansion of existing Portland State and OHSU collaborations, including the Collaborative Life Sciences Building on the waterfront and the Viking Pavilion, an athletic and events venue on Portland State’s campus that will open in 2018.

PSU’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) is the largest and most comprehensive school of education in the state. It prepares and trains more educators in Oregon than any other institution in the state. The school also trains mental health counselors and houses a community counseling clinic that provides low-cost mental health services to more than 1,100 people a year. The GSE has been in a temporary space since the School of Business expansion project began two years ago.

PCC’s Dental Program will move from the Sylvania Campus—the oldest of its four comprehensive campuses—to the second floor of the Fourth and Montgomery building by 2020. Disciplines to relocate are Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene, and Dental Laboratory Technology, all high-demand oral health care specialties capable of serving more than 130 students annually. The PCC dental clinic, which treats about 2,000 patients a year, also will be moving from Sylvania to downtown. 

The move downtown will enable PCC to be located in close proximity to PSU and OHSU, two of its largest higher education partners. Closer access will encourage even more collaboration among the three institutions, strengthening opportunities for students to smoothly transfer from PCC to PSU to pursue advanced degrees. It also enables PCC to build on its training with the OHSU School of Dentistry, where clinical rotations with PCC students already takes place.

PCC’s ability to partner in this project is due to the college’s 2008 voter-approved bond measure. This project is an example of how local investment in higher education creates opportunities that benefit students and the community at large because resources and talents are leveraged for the greater good.

Contact Kenny Ma at kenma@pdx.edu