March 2, 2016
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Low enrollments have led the college to discontinue programs offered in the Gorge
VANCOUVER, Wash.—Clark College has announced it will close its campus in Bingen, Wash. on June 16 due to low enrollment. Students currently enrolled in classes will have the opportunity to work with college advisors to discuss options regarding their programs.
Clark began exploring the option of for-credit classes in the Gorge in 2013. Representatives from the college attended public information sessions hosted by the school districts of Stevenson-Carson and White Salmon Valley to assess community interest in having access to affordable, college-level classes in the Gorge. The response was positive with more than 200 prospective students, business leaders, educators and economic development advocates in attendance expressing interest. Later that year, Clark began offering classes at the Wind River Education Center in Carson, Wash.
Less than a year later, Clark expanded its academic and technical offerings by adding classes in Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD), a skill that many regional employers cited as being in high demand, and moved into its current location in Bingen, Wash. The expansion was made possible in part by a $315,000 grant from the State of Washington to increase enrollment in aerospace education and help two-year and technical colleges prepare future employees in the aerospace field. Clark will continue to offer the CADD program on the college’s main campus and equipment from the Bingen facility will be relocated.
“While this is a decision we did not want to make, we believe it is in the best interest of the community,” said Clark College President Robert K. Knight. “We know the demands of employer and community needs change with changing economic times. We strive to do our best to adjust to those needs.”
The college plans to monitor the educational needs of the Gorge communities and keep the dialogue going, especially where there may be needs for educational programming to train for workforce needs. As well, Clark will continue to seek out opportunities to serve students in Columbia River Gorge high schools through the dual enrollment and technical preparation programs. In addition, as part Washington State’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the college will be working with local and regional partners to identify other opportunities to provide employment and training opportunities.