Willamette University and the Pacific Northwest College of Art finalized their merger Wednesday.
The two institutions, Oregon’s oldest university and the region’s oldest arts college, announced their plan to merge last year, in a move to strengthen both schools. Willamette has endured declining enrollment over the past few years, while PNCA has dealt with layoffs and a failed merger with the now-closed Oregon College of Art and Craft.
“I am thrilled that we can celebrate the formal completion of this merger and welcome the Pacific Northwest College of Art into Willamette University,” Willamette President Stephen Thorsett said in a statement. “I am so grateful to our two communities, whose hard work and dedication made this a reality, and I am especially excited for our students, who will see immediate benefits as we further advance our plans for collaborative opportunities and cross-disciplinary programs that will be the trademark of this union as it deepens the connection between art, design and the liberal arts and sciences.”
The Willamette-PNCA merger will be supported by a $2 million donation from the late Arlene Schnitzer, according to a news release. That money will create the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer PNCA Dean’s Initiative Fund which will “provide the new PNCA dean with resources to test new initiatives, facilitate collaboration between PNCA and Willamette faculties, and more.”
“The joining of PNCA and Willamette stands to elevate the next generations of artists – and their central importance in society – by reimagining what an arts education can be,” Jordan Schnitzer, philanthropist and son of Arlene Schnitzer, said in a statement. “This gift will support innovation, reinforcing and building Willamette and PNCA as top models of art education.”
Willamette will launch its search for a dean of PNCA this week.
PNCA will remain an independent college within Willamette, and it will maintain its name, faculty and campus in downtown Portland, according to a news release.
Willamette is no stranger to partnerships with other schools. The university is also affiliated with the Claremont School of Theology and Tokyo International University of America.