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Community Colleges of Spokane celebrates 20 years in Whitman County

PULLMAN – The only community college serving the greater Pullman area is having good success in its 20th year. Enrollment is healthy and class offerings are filling a need.

The Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS) formed a collaboration with a consortium of leaders from Whitman County in the fall of 1999 and began offering some classes through its Institute of Extended Learning.

Community colleges are known for adapting to the needs of their communities and today’s version of that 1999 college program is now thriving on the campus of Washington State University where it is focused on college-age students who want to start their path to a four-year degree at a community college.

“Not all students who graduate from high school and want to go to a university feel they are ready to be successful in that environment,” said Patrick Forster, assistant dean and the lead administrator at what is now the Pullman campus of Spokane Falls Community College. “We are seeing a growing number of students pursuing two-year associate degrees at SFCC Pullman clearly determined to transfer to a four-year institution. Students and families are choosing us and community colleges in other places because we offer personalized learning experiences and schedules that have room for service and work.”

Forster will be updating the community about SFCC Pullman when he talks to the Pullman Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 14, 2020. His presentation is part of the institution’s 20th anniversary celebration of serving Whitman County.

About a year after opening in Colfax, the Institute of Extended Learning - moved the small college program to the Gladish Community and Cultural Center in downtown Pullman and added a one-year Office Assistant program, Work Place Basics (adult basic education), Math and distance learning telecourses.

The Institute merged with Spokane Community College in 2012 – and still operates as a unit of SCC in Spokane. Spokane Falls Community College took over administration of the Pullman campus and began offering more basic college courses for students planning to transfer to a university.

Three years ago, SFCC moved from downtown onto the WSU Pullman campus where SFCC students have access to WSU dining, library and recreational services, but also enjoy the benefits of - a small campus with close-knit community relations and an average class ratio for faculty-students of 1:25. The college continues to offer adult basic education as well as GED and high school completion programs. Frequently, graduates of those programs can move into college-level courses at the campus in pursuit of a college degree that, for many, had seemed elusive, if it had been a consideration at all.

Student enrollment in college programs at SFCC Pullman increased from 132 in 2016-17 to 434 in 2018-19.


Media contact: Lorraine Nelson, Community Colleges of Spokane communications manager, 434-5150,

Posted On

1/9/2020 4:22:35 PM

Posted By

Jonathan Glover


CCS Pullman SFCC

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