Wednesday, August 17, 2022
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Williamette University to Merge With Pioneer Art School PNCA


Williamette University, the oldest liberal arts university in Oregon, has reached an agreement to take over the region’s oldest art college, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA).

PNCA will retain its name and campus but will now be part of Williamette University. All of the academic centers and collections under the PNCA umbrella, including The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, will also merge with Willamette.

Union of Rich History

Both schools have built a rich heritage in the state of Oregon, as Williamette has a history for civic engagement while PNCA has a penchant for innovative design. 

“This coming-together builds on the distinguished histories of both institutions, which were the first in Oregon to offer art instruction,” said Willamette University President Stephen Thorsett. “Together, this combination will amplify the Northwest as a cultural and economic hub for the arts and innovative leadership.”

The collaboration will eventually extend to more permanent arrangements in academic programs and administrative support. The agreement will also help the two schools endure these trying financial times since it will cut costs of both institutions.

Benefits for Students

Students will benefit from the expanded curriculum. PNCA students can now explore the course offerings at Willamette, which include business and science courses.

On the other hand, Willamette students will have broader fine arts options provided by PNCA. Additionally, there could be an exposure to different cultures for both student bodies. Williamette is in Salem, which is the seat of government in Oregon while PNCA is in Portland, the state’s cultural hub.

“The joining of these institutions will unlock enormous potential and new opportunities for students while helping shape the art world,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust and a Willamette alumnus.

He noted that Willamette’s programs in liberal arts, law, and management can help with “arts management to user-experience design and digital marketing.” Conversely, PNCA’s “deep well of creative insight” will give Willamette students a “stronger, meaningful grounding in the arts to elevate their lifelong growth.”

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