MCC News

Preston Pulliams Named 2014 MCC Distinguished Alumnus

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Muskegon native Preston Pulliams, the former president of Oregon’s largest community college and vice chancellor overseeing the State University of New York’s 30 community colleges, has been named the 2014 Muskegon Community College Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

He will be honored May 1 at the Distinguished Alumni Award Dinner on campus and will also address graduates at the 2014 MCC Commencement on May 3 in Walker Arena.

Established in 1998, the award is the highest honor that MCC bestows upon an outstanding alumnus whose professional achievements, community service, and advocacy of higher education exemplify the foremost ideals of their alma mater. The honoree is selected by the MCC Alumni Relations Committee and college leadership.

After graduating from Muskegon High School, Pulliams jump started his academic career with a scholarship from MCC. 

“I was the first in my immediate family to attend college and I was really challenged when I arrived at MCC in 1964 because I had no idea if I could be successful,” said Pulliams, who graduated from MCC in 1966. “But many of the MCC instructors were so supportive and each one encouraged me and some even mentored me.”

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, a master’s degree from Western Michigan University  and a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Before his recent retirement, Pulliams was president at Portland (OR) Community College. He has championed affordable higher education and promoted community service throughout a  40-year career that included serving his hometown as MCC’s Dean of Students .

“Research informs us that those who are educated beyond high school have higher lifetime salaries and a better quality of life,” said Pulliams. “I certainly know firsthand that much of my professional opportunities were the result of my acquisition of a college education. Educational experience beyond high school is absolutely essential for today`s students if they are going to be competitive in today`s job market and workplace.”

Pulliams, who was also president at both Oakland County Community College in Michigan and Orange County Community College in New York,  has served on a slew of boards over the years, including Big Brothers Big Sisters in Muskegon, MI; President for the Board of Directors for United Way in Middletown, NY; State Board of Higher Education for the state of Oregon; Board of Directors of the United Way in Portland, OR; and the Board of Directors for the Oregon Historical Society.

He has received the Portland Business Alliance Award for advocacy for higher education; the American Association of Community Colleges Award for Outstanding Community College President; the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Regional CEO of the Year Award; the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (AACC affiliate council) Regional CEO of the Year Award; and the Oregon League of Minority Voters Civil Rights Award. 

Pulliams has been honored as the Outstanding Fundraiser for Community College President from the National Council for Institutional Development. 

For more information or to make a Distinguished Alumni Award nomination, visit