Since its debut with Pacific University 30 years ago, the Tom McCall Forum has been a way for the Pacific and outer communities to come together and have expanded discussions on some of the most current controversial topics. For the past two years, the program has shifted from a forum to the Tom McCall Center and director Jim Moore said the discussion topics are just as enticing, the only difference is “the forum is dead. The center is not.”
With no set location, the center is able to host its events at a number of different places on campus rather than strictly in the Portland area as it did in its earlier days. The change in location has made it easier to frequently address topics centered around the campus and the local community, according to Moore. However, the purpose of the center is to “get two sides of national arguments,” Moore said. Because of this versatility in the topics confronted by the Tom McCall Center, Moore feels that it is something to be taken advantage of not only by the outer community, but students as well.
In terms of this year, the community has had a greater turnout for events being hosted by the Tom McCall Center. According to Moore, there were nearly 500 attendants present for the lineup of fall events and only 20 percent of that total audience was Pacific students. An increase in student attendance would be an overall success, but Moore added that hearing multiple sides to these controversies would be especially beneficial for students who plan to pursue a career that focuses on social issues. This introduces a new connection between the Pacific community and all others interested in policy innovation, Moore said.
In addition to student involvement in terms of attendance, students have a hand in helping coordinate upcoming events with the Tom McCall Center, but Moore does not see it becoming a student-run organization in the foreseeable future.
Currently Moore is helping the center prepare for a discussion on March 20 titled, “Living and Working in the New Economy: The Promise and the Peril.” The conversation will look at the current state of the economy and more specifically, how it is affecting the Forest Grove community in different ways. The McCall Center and Friends of the Forest Grove Library are hosting the event together Moore said to once again show both the positives and negatives this time, of the economy and “what people have done to take advantage or work against it together.”