Tacoma Program

Tacoma Program History

tacoma campus image


The Evergreen State College in Olympia opened its doors to students in 1971 with a mandate from the state legislature to serve undergraduate students in Washington State in new and innovative ways. That meant breaking the mold of traditional higher education and forging new models for coordinated interdisciplinary study, offering an environment where narrative evaluations replace letter grades, and creating an opportunity for students to have much more say in the direction of their education.


In 1972, at the request of members of Tacoma's African-American community, Dr. Maxine Mimms, an Evergreen faculty member, took this mandate seriously and focused on developing an educational program that would serve place-bound working adult students in Tacoma. She was committed to serving the educational needs of urban, African-American adult learners and reaching out to a broader range of inner-city adults as well.


In 1982, Evergreen-Tacoma was formally established on the corner of Martin Luther King Way and 12th Street under the leadership of Dr. Mimms. She served as program director until 1991, guiding its evolution into a thriving learning community.


Dr. Joye Hardiman carried that work forward from 1991 to 2007. In that period, Evergreen’s Tacoma Program further refined its mission, summed up in its motto: Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve. The goal was to improve access to higher education for working adults, with an emphasis on learning not just for one’s own benefit, but for the benefit of others. The program moved to its current location at 1210 6th Avenue in 2000. This modern, well-equipped learning facility is a bright spot in the community.


From 2007-2012, Dr. Artee Young served as the Executive Director of the Tacoma Program. During this time she continued the work of promoting academic excellence across the interdisciplinary liberal arts program and building community-based partnerships and initiatives in the Hilltop community.

The program offers an interdisciplinary upper division college education with strong ties to real-world issues and applied learning. The student body still represents the inner-city character of the Hilltop neighborhood, but also boasts a broad range of diversity in ethnicity, economic circumstances and age. The common bond continues to be an emphasis on personal advancement and community service.

"Evergreen-Tacoma opened its doors to me to reach my goal. It provided me with educational support, encouraged me to keep going and most importantly, provided a special family environment. I thought it would be difficult to find a college where the faculty and staff would care so personally about my education, and me, but I found it at Evergreen-Tacoma." -Maria Silva, Student