The liberal arts are more relevant today than ever before. To meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, our communities need dynamic thinkers who can approach complex systems with curiosity, creativity and nuance. The Northwest College of the Liberal Arts (NWCLA) will offer a two-year associates degree for less than half the yearly cost of a traditional liberal arts college. The college will focus on what liberal arts colleges do best: teach students to wrestle with ideas, communicate clearly, think critically and negotiate cognitive dissonance. NWCLA will focus on academic excellence, invest in full-time faculty and recruit a diverse student body from the talent we know is right here in Oregon.

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If, in 2016, you were to design a liberal arts college to serve a deeply diverse group of students, what would it look like?


Students take courses with the same cohort throughout their two years, giving them the time to develop relationships with peers and professors and create a vibrant, tight-knit intellectual community.


Students spend two years with a core group of faculty who are engaged in collaborative pedagogy.


Based on the success of learning communities, the two-year curriculum is integrated to encourage coherent cross-subject learning. Faculty collaboratively develop syllabi and scaffold assignments to build skills across disciplines and quarters.


Learning increases when students interact with classmates from different backgrounds. Society benefits when a more diverse group of students pursues liberal arts education. NWCLA will prioritize admitting and retaining a diverse student body through its recruitment practices.


In their second year, students will explore different kinds of four-year institutions and will take a course to assist them with choosing schools, applying, and finding funding.


NWCLA will act as an incubator for the liberal arts college itself, testing ideas about how to deliver high quality, in-person, education at a lower price point.

The soul of the liberal arts is the classroom, not the campus.
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Business and student services that are not directly related to student learning are contracted to a local university, reducing the need for infrastructure and staff associated with these functions.


Recruitment will be local (Portland metro area), and focus on building relationships with high school staff and teachers to identify students who would benefit most from a NWCLA education.


NWCLA’s base tuition will be $20,000 and cohorts will be comprised of students who will be given partial and full scholarships, as well as some paying the base price. All scholarships will be based on financial need.


NWCLA’s financial model means that fundraising efforts can focus on the classroom and services that promote student success.


NWCLA will reduce costs by leveraging institutional partnerships for non-academic services, eliminating most non-academic lifestyle amenities, and maximizing faculty capacity through a fixed two-year curriculum.


NWCLA’s curriculum will tap into Portland’s rich cultural offerings, including museums, galleries, theaters, public events, and community spaces.



Dr. Michael Axley (Treasurer) is a board certified anesthesiologist and holds a faculty position at Oregon Health and Science University as a Regional & Acute Pain Medicine Specialist. He has been involved in diversity initiatives at OHSU and in the Portland community. Dr. Axley holds an M.D. from Cornell Medical College, an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University School of Journalism, a B.S. in General Science from Portland State University, and a B.A. in Literature from Reed College.

Photography by Portland Oregon Photographer Craig MItchelldyer www.craigmitchelldyer.com 503.513.0550

Mathew Lauritsen (Secretary) is an attorney practicing primarily in the areas of commercial litigation, contract law, creditors’ rights, and bankruptcy litigation. As a litigator, Mathew has pursued and defended claims involving commercial contracts, loan enforcement, enforcement of security interests in real and personal property, judicial dissolution of business entities, appointment of commercial receivers, fraudulent and preferential transfers of property, and denial of bankruptcy discharge. Mathew earned an undergraduate degree at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and his law degree from the University of Washington. Before joining Kell, Alterman & Runstein, L.L.P., Mathew was an associate for the Northwest law firm Ball Janik, L.L.P.


Robyn Steely (Board Chair) is a Training and Organizational Consultant and former Executive Director of Write Around Portland, a nonprofit providing creating writing workshops to communities across Portland. In her consultant work, she provides creative, relationship-based training, facilitation, and organization development for nonprofits, NGOs, social change, advocacy, and mission-based organizations. Current and previous clients include: The Wilderness Society of Australia, Wellstone Action, the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, Oregon Labor Candidate School, Five Keys Charter School and Programs, Human Services Council, Oregon Child Development Coalition, Oregon Walks, Momentum Alliance, and College Possible. Robyn holds a BA in African-American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis.


Dr. John Griffith Urang is an assistant professor of Media and Film Studies at Marylhurst University. He was a visiting assistant professor at Reed College from 2007–2011 and an assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 2011-2012.  He has also taught at the University of Chicago, Roosevelt University, Portland State University, and in Oregon Humanities’ Humanity in Perspective Program. He holds a doctorate in Germanic Studies from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Bard College.



Dr. Jennifer Schuberth (Executive Director) splits her time between the Northwest College of Liberal Arts and the ICA Group, where she has been a senior business strategist for the last three years. The ICA Group is a non-profit consultancy that provides financial modeling and business and policy consulting to nonprofits and businesses focused on creating sustainable jobs, especially for low income individuals. As an assistant professor at Portland State University, she started a popular program in the academic study of religion that grew to more than forty minors in two years. She also taught in the Freshman and Sophomore general education program at PSU, as well as trained and taught in the University of Chicago’s College Writing Program. She has taught at the University of Chicago, Portland State University, Oakton Community College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and in Oregon Humanities’ Humanity in Perspective Program, a college program for low-income individuals. She holds a doctorate in Philosophy of Religion, as well as an M.A. in Humanities, from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis with majors in literature and finance. Email: jschuberth@nwcla.org

beth white

Beth White (Development Director) has over fifteen years of experience in development in nonprofits focused on social justice and education. She spent the past eleven years as development director at Write Around Portland (WAP), a nonprofit that provides free creative writing workshops in hospitals, shelters, senior centers, prisons, schools and treatment facilities. WAP also publishes these writers’ work, and holds readings by workshop participants. While at WAP, Beth managed a successful and diversified development and fundraising program including small, major and sustainer individual giving, private foundation and government grants, annual events and the creation of a fee-for-service earned income program. She more than tripled the individual donor base in her time at WAP. Beth is also an organizer and cohort member with SURJ PDX (Showing Up for Racial Justice), has been on the donor relations committee for McKenzie River Gathering, and holds a BA in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Carleton College. Email: bwhite@nwcla.org

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Resource Council

carterSuzi Carter, Communications Consultant

causeyNoni Causey, CEO at Black Educational Achievement Movement (BEAM)

davisNancy Davis, Strategy Consultant

a_davisAdam Davis, Executive Director, Oregon Humanities

henkingSusan Henking, President, Shimer College

hillPaige Hill, Program Coordinator, College Possible

k_jonesKevin Jones, Director, Actor, and Co-founder, The August Wilson Red Door Project

katsourosSteve Katsouros, Dean and Executive Director, Arrupe College, Loyola University Chicago

malekKim Malek, Founder and Owner, Salt and Straw

veazeyDave Veazey, Director, University Assessment, Accreditation, and Research, Pacific Lutheran University