The 2013-2014 event will be a first for students graduating under the college’s new, independent accreditation while being honored at the ‘Beacon on the Hill.’
Graduation at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) is taking on a whole new look, feel and meaning this year. For starters, the 2013-2014 will be the first commencement to feature graduates who will ceremoniously receive associate’s degrees under the college’s new, independent accreditation. Also for the first time in history, the June 13 graduation will take place in the newly constructed Fort Dalles Readiness and CGCC Workforce Center, located at the entrance of the college’s campus. According to Dr. Frank Toda, CGCC’s president, these two factors make this year’s graduation historically significant for the college, which was established 37 years ago.
“Because we were not independently accredited, to many students it was like we were not a real college,” says Toda. “It was as if we were simply a distribution center for educational services under the banner of Portland Community College. To others, we were still a hospital facility on the hill or the old junior college. By partnering with the Oregon Military Department in building this state-of-the-art, ‘green’ facility and seeing it finished within a year of our becoming independently accredited, we jumped a long way toward creating our new image as a progressive, full-service community college.”
With graduation taking place inside the brand-new Readiness Center, there will undoubtedly be an incredible sense of achievement felt not just by the students graduating in this facility but also the many CGCC staff, faculty and other key leaders who helped make the Readiness Center a reality. Among its many purposes, the almost 63,000-square-foot facility — which has been fondly named “The Beacon on the Hill” — serves as the new National Guard armory, houses the nationally recognized Renewable Energy Technology program, and provides ample space for large special events, such as this milestone graduation.
“For CGCC, our community and the entire region, this year’s graduation will be one of those incredible opportunities for reinforcing positive morale and demonstrating how dreams really do come true,” Toda says. “It will remind us that although achieving dreams takes hard work, a ‘We did it’ mindset is powerful for bringing about critical transformation and ensuring success. In reflecting on the independent accreditation and this particular graduation at the Readiness Center, both events are unquestionably interrelated, and their alignment on the horizon of time will never be repeated again.”
The graduation ceremony takes place June 13 at 3 p.m. and is open to the public. At the ceremony, graduates will be given diploma covers along with a personally signed note from Toda. The CGCC president also plans to hand-sign (as opposed to using a scanned signature) the approximately 300 degrees and certificates, bearing the new, official CGCC seal. Official diplomas will be mailed to students a few weeks after graduation.