Portland’s three largest public colleges are teaming up with the City of Portland to build a new $100 million education and health center in the heart of Portland State University’s downtown campus.
The historic project will turn a parking lot at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street into a new home for the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health (Portland’s first school of public health), PSU’s Graduate School of Education, Portland Community College’s dental programs and a city bureau.
The building — expected to open in September 2020 — marks the first time all three campuses and the city will share one space. At 200,000 square feet and up to nine stories tall, it will be one the biggest academic buildings on PSU’s main campus and will bring low-cost mental health services, a community dental clinic, city offices and ground-floor retail and restaurants to a newly revitalized area of south downtown.
“The City of Portland is proud to be a partner in the first-ever capital collaboration between Portland State University, Oregon Health & Science University and Portland Community College,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “This is the first time our city’s three public institutions of higher education have been together in one building, and it will improve our system of higher education.”
PSU President Wim Wiewel said: “We are very excited to leverage the power of PSU, OHSU and PCC to train Portland’s future health and education leaders. This unique collaboration with the City takes us to a new level of community cooperation, one that sets a standard for Portland, the region and the state.”
The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health was created in July 2016 with a vision of educating the next generation of public health leaders to confront and combat the underlying causes of health disparity throughout Oregon. Since then, the school — which has been temporarily housed in multiple locations including PSU, OHSU and the Collaborative Life Sciences Building on Portland’s South Waterfront — has enrolled more than 1,200 undergraduates and 250 graduate students pursuing degrees in 16 public health programs.
The school, and forthcoming building, represent an expansion of existing Portland State and OHSU collaborations, including the CLSB and the Viking Pavilion, an athletic and events venue on Portland State’s campus that will open in 2018.
PSU’s Graduate School of Education prepares and trains more educators in Oregon than any other institution in the state. The school also trains mental health counselors and houses a community counseling clinic that provides low-cost mental health services to more than 1,100 people a year. The school has been in a temporary space since the School of Business Administration renovation and expansion project began two years ago.
PCC’s Dental Program will move from the Sylvania Campus – the oldest of its four comprehensive campuses – to the second floor of the Fourth and Montgomery building by 2020. Disciplines to relocate are Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene, and Dental Laboratory Technology, all high-demand oral health care specialties capable of serving more than 130 students annually. The PCC dental clinic, which treats about 2,000 patients a year, also will be moving from Sylvania to downtown.
The move will enable PCC to be located in close proximity to PSU and OHSU, two of its largest higher education partners. Closer access will encourage even more collaboration among the three institutions, strengthening opportunities for students to smoothly transfer from PCC to PSU to pursue advanced degrees. It also enables PCC to build on its training with the OHSU School of Dentistry, where clinical rotations with PCC students already take place.
Photo: PSU President Wim Wiewel talks with PCC President Mark Mitsui and OHSU President Joe Robertson at a press conference on March 20 announcing the building partnership. Photo by Peter Simon