Clark President Bob Knight outlined an expansive and community-oriented future at his State of the College Address last month.
This year’s version of the annual speech was titled “Following True North” to illustrate the college’s commitment to using its mission statement as a guiding star in its ongoing development in academic achievement, infrastructure, and business partnerships.
A large portion of the speech focused on the long-awaited finalized plan for the Boschma Farms campus in Ridgefield, which Clark unveiled in December after years of planning.
“We have heard from students, faculty, staff, members of the community, and worked with McKay Sposito to develop a 50-year plan for the site,” Knight said. “That plan includes new buildings, green spaces for the community, places to grow test crops, develop other life science programs and more.”
Knight said the Boschma Farms campus will be imperative in serving almost 1,200 students in the Ridgefield area, one of the fastest growing cities in Washington.
The plan is one thing, but budgeting for the upcoming campus is another. While the Clark College Foundation acquired the land the campus will be built on, it will not be able to fund the rest of the development according to Clark College Foundation Director of Communications Rhonda Morin said.
Knight said in his speech that if the Washington State Legislature approves funding for the whole project, the campus will open in 2019, but if not the college will have to rely on private contributions and Boschma Farms may not open until 2021.
Knight also mentioned more current progress, and noted that Audi and Honda have joined Toyota and Dick Hannah Dealerships as partners in Clark’s automotive programs, and that classes started this quarter for the college’s first Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Management students.
Knight said the BASAM program, which is Clark’s second bachelor degree program, “is going to particularly help out professional technical students move into management positions with area businesses or to create new businesses that will thrive in our community.”
Clark is contributing to the community in other ways as well according to said Knight, who cited a study by Examination Management Services Inc. that reported the college’s contributions to the local economy at $507.3 million and credited it with helping to create and retain 9,595 jobs.
Anna Brown, the Director of Consulting for Higher Education at Examination Management Services Inc., said “The study was done to show the important economic driver colleges are in their communities.”
Clark has also received recognition beyond the community level, as Knight announced that the college was named one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation by the ASPEN Institute for.
“We had a phrase in our vision statement that we would strive for national recognition,” Knight said. “I wanted that taken out of our vision because I didn’t want it to be a focal point of what we do, but a by-product of what we do. We get recognition because of our focus on student success, not because we spend a lot of time writing up applications for awards.”
Knight concluded his speech by presenting presidential coins to those who “provide exemplary service to Clark students, the college, and the community.”In a departure from previous years, two of the three coins went to members of the Clark community rather than a Clark faculty or staff member.