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FAQs - Closure Information

Why was a decision made to close the college?

Following years of attempts to restructure the college to achieve financial stability, the Board of Trustees ultimately decided that closing the college was the only responsible path forward. The OCAC Board made this decision now in order to prioritize the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Shutting our doors while we can still offer the best possible outcomes for all affected is the right and the only responsible thing to do.   

Is this the result of financial mismanagement?

The path to closure was paved with years of restructuring, none of which could sufficiently eradicate the rising costs of running a small private arts college in the 21st century. Since the most recent financial recession, it has been difficult to sustain our high level of academic programming in the arts and, unfortunately, we are not alone in this struggle. 

When was the decision made? What led up to this decision?

The Board voted on the resolution to close shortly before making the announcement to students, faculty, staff, and the community at large.  Prior to making this difficult decision, the Board explored numerous options in hopes of continuing OCAC’s 112-year legacy, which included well-publicized attempts to partner with other institutions, among them Portland State University (PSU) and Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). While the path to closure was paved with years of restructuring, none of these options could sufficiently eradicate the rising costs of running a private arts college in the 21st century. 

If things are so dire, why did you wait so long to close?

This college is dear to so many of us and we did not take the decision to close lightly. In order to best serve our students, faculty and staff, we wanted to ensure that we left no stone unturned in our efforts to keep our academic programs open for current students and students in years to come. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a solution that would serve our students while keeping our doors open. 

Why is the Board of Trustees or college not sharing detailed information about what led to this decision? Why does it feel like this is being done without consulting the community?

The OCAC administration is sharing all of the information it is at liberty to disclose. As a private institution, OCAC is not regulated by the same requirements of a public institution of higher education. In many cases, conversations between members of the Board, campus leadership, and third parties are governed by non-disclosure agreements. OCAC has been in discussions with a variety of community members and philanthropists over the years regarding ways to change our fortune and future.

What happens to students who are unable to find a similar arts program in the area to transfer to?

There are programs available regionally and nationally. Our Enrollment and Student Services team is holding individual meetings with each of our students to ease them into new institutions that fit their educational needs. We have been working around the clock to secure transfer partners with colleges across the region and the country to provide our students with the best possible options to continue their academic endeavors. With that in mind, each student’s situation is unique and will be handled in an individual manner by our trained staff.

For current students and alumni, what does it mean to have a degree from a college that has closed?

Your degree from OCAC is a valid degree with full regional accreditation. Following OCAC’s closure at the end of the Spring 2019 semester, we will transfer academic records to a custodial institution which will preserve them and make accessible after closure. We will provide more details as soon as they are available.

What’s next for OCAC?

The college will continue to operate the high level of academic programming on which we pride ourselves through the end of the Spring 2019 semester. OCAC then plans to cease all operations at the end of May 2019. We will continue to share updates on the upcoming closure as new information is available.

What is the plan for the campus facilities? What will happen to the physical space that is OCAC?

As we approach OCAC’s closure following the spring term, we are pleased to announce the sale of the OCAC campus to our longtime neighbor, Catlin Gabel School. While this news may be bittersweet for much of our community, we also know many will be relieved that the campus has been sold to a school with deep connections to OCAC.

Both OCAC and Catlin Gabel are private, nonprofit educational institutions. Serving students from preschool through 12th grade, Catlin Gabel is also philosophically aligned with OCAC, offering ceramics and woodworking instruction for its students starting in elementary school, along with a robust general arts education. Even as many school districts have reduced arts classes and electives due to budget constraints over the years, Catlin Gabel has continued to offer childhood art education. Many of the school’s students go on to pursue arts degrees.

Selling the property will help us cover all of our expenses through the end of the academic year and fulfill any financial obligations after this spring. This arrangement will also enable Catlin Gabel to enhance its long-term strategic, enrollment, and campus goals, including its desire to provide students with more opportunities related to academics, social life, athletics, and the arts.

While the sale is final as of today, April 29, 2019, OCAC will temporarily lease back property from Catlin Gabel to ensure our students are able to complete the May term and allow for an orderly closure after our final commencement ceremony on May 19. OCAC plans to cease all operations at the end of May 2019. We will continue to share updates on the upcoming closure as new information is available. In the meantime, we hope you will join us in welcoming Catlin Gabel to the campus.

Read the full Property Sale Announcement HERE

What about all of the organized groups trying to save OCAC that I see posting online?

The only parties authorized to speak on behalf of OCAC are members of the Board of Trustees and senior administrators. There are no external groups, individuals, or organizations sanctioned to speak on the institution's behalf. These parties may lack the most up-to-date, relevant information regarding our current situation, actions, and plans. While we appreciate the outpouring of support and the good intentions of members of the OCAC community, these parties do not represent OCAC. We encourage you to seek the most accurate, current information about the closure decision on our website.