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Mission & History

Oregon College of Art and Craft is dedicated to Craft as the creative material practice at the core of art and design. OCAC's mentor-based learning community fosters self-reliant, entrepreneurial, globally conscious, critical and innovative makers.

Core Themes and Institutional Objectives

Oregon College of Art and Craft traces its origins to 1907 when Julia Hoffman founded the Arts and Crafts Society to educate the public on the value of arts and crafts in daily life.

Through art classes, visiting artists, lectures, and exhibitions, the best educators and artwork of American craft were brought to Portland. Today Oregon College of Art and Craft is a private, accredited, independent college offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, three Master of Fine Arts degrees, two certificate programs, continuing education for adults, and youth classes and workshops.

1907: The College is founded as the Arts and Crafts Society by Julia Hoffman, photographer, painter, sculptor, metal worker and weaver, out of her desire to foster the Arts and Crafts movement through classes and exhibitions. The first classes were held in members’ homes.

1934: The Kramer Building, located in downtown Portland, becomes the College’s first permanent site.  Founder Julia Hoffman dies at the age of 78.

1936: Margery Hoffman Smith, Assistant State Director of the Federal Arts Program and daughter of Julia Hoffman, coordinates the interior design of the Timberline Lodge, a part of the Works Project Administration (WPA).  Hoffman Smith oversees the lodge’s architectural details and furnishings.

1952: The Arts and Crafts Society merges with the Allied Art and Metal Guild and moves to a large home located in Northwest Portland.

1962: A former hospital building in Northwest Portland is purchased and converted into studios and classrooms to accommodate the Society's growth. The Hoffman Gallery is dedicated, fulfilling Julia Hoffman’s dream of a permanent exhibition space for craft.

1978: The Arts and Crafts Society name is changed to Oregon School of Arts and Crafts (OSAC). A capital campaign for a new campus begins with 7.2 acre filbert orchard donated by Howard Vollum, founder of Tektronix Corporation, and his wife Jean, an artist. Margery Hoffman Smith provides the initial donation for a building fund. The Murdock Charitable Trust awards a $300,000 grant to the institution, which helps secure a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to construct the $1.5 million campus.

1979: OSAC moves to the present site on SW Barnes Road in Portland, located 3.2 miles from downtown Portland. The nine campus buildings were designed by Oregon architect John Storrs, and the beautiful grounds were designed by landscape architect Barbara Fealy.  Regional artists also incorporated custom details into the campus facilities, including stained glass windows, handmade ceramic tiles and one-of-a kind metal and wrought iron works.  OSAC launches its Artist-in-Residence program, bringing emerging and mid-career artists from across the country to the campus for concentrated studio time.

1984: The Artist-in-Residence program receives funding support from The Collins Foundation.

1987: OSAC receives an endowment of $3.7 million from the estate of Howard Vollum. A foundation is established to oversee the endowment and is comprised of its own Board of Trustees and bylaws.

1988: The Certificate in Craft, a three-year, studio-based program of college-level classes, is inaugurated and runs in conjunction with the school’s Continuing Education Studio School classes and workshops for adults.

1989: The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) grants accreditation and OSAC becomes an independent, accredited crafts school.

1991: Commencement exercises are held for OSAC’s first graduating class of Certificate in Craft awardees.

1994: OSAC becomes a degree-granting college with the inauguration of a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Crafts (BFA) degree.

1995: The College acquires property at the intersection of Barnes and Leahy, which includes an historic schoolhouse, the original farmhouse, and the donor’s family home, an Arts and Crafts bungalow. The institution also receives a grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust to fund campus renovation projects and design a campus master plan.

1996: To reflect the institution’s identity as a degree-granting college, Oregon School of Arts and Crafts becomes Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC).

1997: The College celebrates 90 years of education in art and craft and is given an award of distinction from the American Craft Council.

1998: The first children’s summer art camp begins, called The Jordan Schnitzer Family Art Adventures program, for children and teens ages 6 to 17. The program is funded through grants from the Schnitzer CARE Foundation and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.

2003: The College receives grants from the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for campus-wide technology upgrades.

2005: OCAC collaborates with alumna Apolonia Susana Santos and artist Pat Courtney Gold, both members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, as well as with the Museum at Warm Springs and Kah-Nee-Ta, to create the A. Susana Santos‘ Journeys in Creativity (Journeys).  The program’s goal is to further the study and perpetuation of contemporary and traditional Native American art and craft for Native teenagers and their families.

2006: OCAC receives candidacy for accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

2007: A $14.6 million Capital and Endowment Campaign is launched to expand and renovate the western third of the campus. The College celebrates its 100th year.

2009: A joint Master of Fine Arts in Applied Craft + Design (MFA AC+D) degree program is launched with the Pacific Northwest College of Art. This joint MFA, the only one of its kind in the United States, allows students to simultaneously explore craft and design using the combined resources of both institutions.

2010: OCAC achieves its Phase I Capital and Endowment Campaign goals and dedicates the new Jean Vollum Drawing, Painting and Photography Building and the Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson Thesis Studios.  President Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson ends her eight-year tenure as College President and Denise Mullen is hired as the new President of OCAC.

2011: The College is granted regional accreditation by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

2012: OCAC announces a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Craft program to begin Fall 2013.

2013: OCAC launches its MFA in Craft, the only one of its kind in the United States, with Wood Department Head Karl Burkheimer named as Chair of the program. Journeys marks its 10th anniversary and welcomes nationally recognized Native artist instructors, including Journeys’ co-founder Pat Courtney Gold, Lillian Pit, Tony Johnson and Toma Villa.

2015: OCAC graduates the first class in its MFA in Craft: Practice and Innovation.

2019: After serving the community for 112 years, OCAC closed its doors.