Pioneer Pacific College is shuttering three campuses and eliminating 131 jobs in a move college officials say was necessary due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In an official filing with the state, the college pointed to "statewide operational restrictions put in place by [Oregon] Governor [Kate] Brown." The filing said the rules led to a "dramatic loss of business" with no sense of "when business will return to normal."
Pioneer Pacific is a for-profit private college with three programs in the Willamette Valley: in Springfield, Beaverton and the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland. All three locations are shuttering, in what the filing called a "permanent closure ... on July 31, 2020."
Beaverton and Springfield offers similar courses, leaning heavily on health-related fields such as medical assisting, nursing and health care administration. Both campuses also have an associate's degree for paralegals and a bachelor's degree in business management. Those two sites are laying off a combined 90 employees.
The closure of the college's Portland location includes staff at the Oregon Culinary Institute, as well as a number of administrative positions. The college is laying off 41 people in Portland, including 12 instructors.
Across the three campuses, roughly half of the layoffs are instructors.
Pioneer Pacific had 403 students in classes in the last 60 days, according to Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission, including 183 culinary students in Portland, 144 at the Springfield campus and 76 in Beaverton. Oregon officials said their most recent data for a full school year counted 847 students across the three campuses in 2018-19.
According to its most recent filing with the U.S. Department of Education, Pioneer Pacific charged tuition of $14,597 for the 2019-20 school year.
Pioneer Pacific is the latest in a series of colleges to close in recent years including two of Oregon's oldest nonprofit colleges: Marylhurst University in 2018 and Concordia University, earlier this year.
Four years ago, another for-profit college, ITT Tech closed suddenly, stranding thousands of students midway through their college careers across the country. In Oregon, HECC worked with other college administrators to help some ITT Tech students complete their degrees. A HECC spokesperson said officials are discussing possible completion options with the college, its accrediting body and federal education officials, and are directing students to a dedicated website for updates.