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History of OCAC

The College is founded as the Arts and Crafts Society by Julia Hoffman, photographer, painter, sculptor, metalworker, 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 Timberline Lodge as part of the Work Projects 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 a 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 art 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 SW Barnes and SW 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 youth summer art camp begins for children and teens, ages 6 to 17. The program is funded through grants from PGE, Schnitzer CARE Foundation and private donors. The camp was originally called Art on the Hill and was soon changed to Art Adventures and still thrives today.

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

2004: OCAC collaborates with alumna Susana “Apolonia” Santos and artist Pat Courtney Gold, both citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, as well as The Museum at Warm Springs and Kah-Nee-Ta, to create the Journeys in Creativity Program: Explorations in Native American Art. The program goals are to provide art workshops and opportunities to Native American teens so they can pursue becoming artists, owning or being employed by an art business, or attending college in the future. 

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. The only one of its kind in the United States, the MFA in AC+D 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 the 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 in Creativity 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 to teach in this milestone year.

2015: The inaugural class of the Master of Fine Arts in Craft graduates at a ceremony featuring Thom Collins, President and Executive Director of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, as graduation speaker. 

2016: The OCAC FabLab is instituted with funding from The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust as a laboratory for digital fabrication to support and extend the creation of materials knowledge at OCAC. Five new areas of study are articulated as paths of curricular inquiry for BFA students: Cross Media, Digital Strategies, Image and Narrative, Functional Object, and Sculptural Practice, bringing the number of undergraduate degrees to twelve.

2017: OCAC announces the third MFA degree, the  Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Industrial Design, to begin Winter 2018. 

2018: OCAC launches the Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design with Cia Mooney as Chair of the program in January, followed by the fourth MFA program,  the Master of Fine Arts in Craft and Material Studies - Low Residency, in June.