PORT was just notified that the proposed merger between Oregon College of Art and Craft and Pacific Northwest College of Art is for now off after PNCA and OCAC board meetings. To us at PORT this merger never made sense
other than for the fetish of this # of 1000 students but its clear that the much smaller OCAC needs a fairy godmother of sorts and the main problem is that higher education as a system seems to be collapsing under costs and student debt. OCAC has grown but I just cant see it having 1000+ students, ever. I suspect that would kill what is special about the college. Ultimately, PNCA and OCAC simply shared the same inherent needs/weaknesses and I likened the idea as trying to find a date for the holidays only to wonder about the long term feasibility? Instead, I think OCAC should think outside the box (how about OHSU, or a massive save craft campaign? Nick Offerman will be in the area in April folks
, he's the face of craft... engage him). What's more PNCA should do what it has been doing by focusing on deepening their disciplines. The point is there are competitive advantages that need attention that a merger would be a distraction to. An art school that loses focus doesnt survive, it is just that simple and OCAC is special as a craft focused school. That said no one wants to see OCAC close like Marylhurst University recently did so OCAC needs a capital campaign and this is a major donation time. Ultimately OCAC is without an experienced president and therefore has a vision vacuum at the moment. (The whole merger was originally presented as a fait accompli
, which seemed hasty).
Here is PNCA's statement:
"Over the last three months, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) and Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) have explored the potential of consolidating their two institutions. Today, PNCA's Board of Governors has made the determination that a merger at this time is not a feasible option and voted to decline the opportunity with OCAC.
Both institutions entered these conversations with strong intention and dedicated rigor, engaging in an inclusive process that included faculty, staff and members of the board from both institutions. The PNCA community holds our colleagues at OCAC in high regard, recognizing their contribution to the American Crafts movement, art education and the rich legacy of the arts and creativity in the Pacific Northwest. OCAC has stated its intention to remain dedicated to providing the highest level of arts education in the City of Portland and throughout the Pacific Northwest. We wish them only success in moving forward."
Here is OCAC's statement:
"During the last 3 months, OCAC and PNCA have completed a due diligence and negotiations process to understand the potential benefits and challenges of merging our two institutions.
Today, both OCAC's Board of Trustees and PNCA's Board of Governors made the decision that a merger at this time is not a feasible option for our respective organizations. OCAC and PNCA remain dedicated to providing the highest level of arts education in the City of Portland and throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The OCAC leadership is exploring other exciting opportunities to ensure the sustainability of our college and campus. We continue to be fully committed to finding the best possible pathway to a brighter future."
Perhaps an innovative public private partnership? Perhaps a non art school? Either way nobody wants to lose OCAC and a committed campaign with vision needs to be mounted.