Friday Letter, 9-14-18

Bunny Tales

Setting. Five people sitting around a conference table. Last Friday was an all-day retreat for the executive team. We were supposed to be off-campus, but unforeseen circumstances led us to steel away into a dark corner of CC3. The day was productive. We talked about four main topics:

  1. Risk Management: We have a registry of all events that could pose a risk to the college, from earthquakes to data failure to lack of enrollment to poor management. Terence manages the registry and we have to report back to him how we intend to mitigate risks in our areas. This is required by the State.
  2. International Programs: The current trends and future possibilities of our international student recruiting is on our minds. Students are tending to head towards Canada rather than the US so keeping up our market share is an important topic for us and Meagan’s area.
  3. Accreditation: The time has come to evaluate our work over the last 6+ years. Kerry is right on top of organizing our process. This will be a time for an all-points assessment of our progress on the Core Themes and Strategic Plan. You’ll hear more about that soon.
  4. Equity & Inclusion: Marty and I have been putting the finishing touches on a job description and process for hiring a new Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion. You’ll hear more about this at Convocation on Monday.

Cut to 10 people sitting around a glass coffee table. In addition to the Executive Team Retreat, the Board of Trustees also had a retreat this week. The Executive Team joined the Board at Trustee Roy Captain’s house in Redmond. They attended for the morning session to update the Board on enrollment, finances, capital projects, and equity and inclusion work. After lunch, I rushed the e-team out of the house because I was excited to have my “alone time” with the board in the afternoon.

Cut to five people sitting around a dining room table. The trustees and I do some planning about topics for up-coming meetings, they review their self-evaluation, and we plan for our interactions with the state.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, a text conversation is taking place among the executive team. It goes something like this:

#1: I can’t believe he kicked us out before the bunny cakes!

#2: Travesty!

#3: Bitmoji of individual on knees yelling NO!!!

#4: Emoji of distraught person.

#5. I mean “bundt” cake. Darn autocorrect.

In wanting to move to the next agenda items so quickly, I forgot a very important moment. Vicki and Kari had gone out of their way to provide the bundt (aka bunny) cakes as a treat for the entire team after lunch at the retreat. The leader goofed by forgetting there were enough for the e-team as well. Vicki bailed me out by buying more bundt cakes later in the week so that I could share them with the executive team.

So what’s the moral of the story? We accomplish big things at Cascadia and we work hard. But little things are important too. A nice word to our students, going out of the way to help a colleague, spending a few minutes building relationships, and (sometimes) a little tiny cake to let people know they matter. Thanks to everyone for their summer work. I’m excited to see you at Convocation on Monday morning and at the President’s Pub at 4:30.

Have a great weekend.



Friday Letter, 9-7-18

Happy Friday! We return to Friday work days and true Friday Letters. We’re almost to the weekend and I hope everyone had a good week. Thanks to my guest writers the last three weeks: Terence, Kerry and Marty. Meagan got out of the assignment by being on sabbatical and welcome back to her. The executive team is here in full now as we begin the countdown to fall quarter.

Over the next few weeks we will have a number of logistical items to report in the Friday Letter. As one of our main communication devices, I hope you’ll encourage colleagues to read the letter and stay up-to-date.

Convocation is right around the corner. We will meet on Monday, Sept 17, from 9:30-11:30. Light refreshments begin at 9:00. Convocation will once again cover the State of the College from the perspective of our finances, our enrollment, and (for the first time) our intended improvements based on the College Employee Satisfaction Survey (CESS). The second half of Convocation will review our intended directions around equity & inclusion, including a description of the new position we’ll be hiring in the fall.

In the afternoon, starting at 4:30, we will have the President’s Pub (brought to you by the Foundation) out on the patio. Beverages and snacks will be available until 6:00. We hope you’ll join us for this kick-off to Fall Quarter.

Three parking changes are afoot and you should look for communications coming out in the next few weeks about these changes.

1) Note that we open our “employee only” parking on the bottom floor of the north garage starting next week. I don’t think there will be much need for it until the quarter starts, but please be aware that it is there, and reserved parking will no longer exist. For those of you who get here early, feel free to park on the main floor. We have notified all of the Reserved Permit holders.

2) As well, we are facing the second year of rising permit costs as outlined in 16-17. In order to pay for our new parking lots that will be built over the next two years, permit costs are rising. Those increases have been negotiated with UWB and our unions were brought into the discussion when the decision was made in 16-17. More to come on the new rates.

3) Finally, there is a new license plate recognition system being installed. No longer will you need a paper permit for daily parking as the new tracking system will focus on reading license plates to determine if someone has paid. With this new technology also comes the ability for daily in-and-out privileges when a day pass is purchased. Beginning this January, the license plate technology will extend to employees and students who purchase quarterly or annual passes. As that date approaches, we will be sending out more information.

And lastly today, I hope you’re ready for the launch of go.Cascadia. While not 100% finished in all of its content conversion, the infrastructure is there and it’s time for us to roll it out. The home page news, college calendar, and Glenn’s Tableau charts will go live this Monday, September 10.  The first feature in the spotlight section on the home page is dedicated to go.Cascadia. That’s the place to head for more information about our new intranet. I would ask that you become familiar with it on a daily basis.  Need to get to go.cascadia?  Follow this link.  Thanks to all who have helped to get us this far.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 8-9-18

The Friday Letters seem to be coming earlier and earlier, don’t they? Pretty soon they may be Monday Letters. However, today’s Wednesday delivery is because I will be leaving on vacation tomorrow and will return September 4. During my time away, Terence will be acting President with occasional guest appearances by Kerry and Marty. Please consult one of the three of them for executive input during this time; I will not be available by email. Also remember that Meagan is out on Sabbatical and will return September 4 as well.

As soon as the whole executive team has returned we will have our annual summer eteam retreat to go over convocation, accreditation, and other pressing issues. That retreat (on Sept 7) is followed by the Trustee’s annual summer retreat (on Sept 10). During the Trustees retreat we will go over yearly campus data and bring them up to speed on issues like budget and accreditation.

From the perspective of the President’s office, things seem to be in good shape:

  • ctcLink is moving along with the urgency and importance it needs (we have a big deadline coming in October);
  • we are preparing to share with the campus at Convocation our design of the new Equity and Inclusion Officer position that we will hire in the fall;
  • the budget seems to be stable and faculty union negotiations are complete;
  • we have begun outlining our process for designing CC4 this coming year;
  • go.cascadia will launch this fall;
  • folks are getting trained on Technology Accessibility;
  • New parking lots are being planned and reserved parking is being switched over per our plan from last year;
  • Fall enrollment is filling up…although every student is important so please recruit a neighbor to enroll;
  • We continue to replace employees who depart for other great adventures…thanks to HR for keeping up with the turn-over;
  • Our accreditation requirements are being reviewed and a plan developed for our end-of-cycle visit in March 2020;
  • And, most importantly, the Bowling League with 32 employees and family members will begin in late September. Those participating will be invited to a launch party and the whole campus community is invited to come cheer on their team every Monday during fall quarter at Kenmore Lanes.

For all of these initiatives, we have a standard practice of making sure you get three touches, or three types of communication, about them. This Friday Letter is the first touch. More detailed information will follow per our communications timeline and we will make sure that the information and updates you need land at your desk.

As I prepare for vacation, I think we are in a great place. We still have a bit of summer to enjoy, so I encourage all of you on campus to take advantage of the thee-day weekends, the sun, and the beauty of Seattle during August and September.

Finally, a side note…we welcomed a small group of Lummi Nation School students to campus on Friday, August 3. They participated in a summer-long program through FuturesNW to visit college campuses all over Washington. We were their host that day and thanks to all of the employees who made their visit a great one.

Guest Friday Letter authors over the next three installments will be Terence (next week), then Kerry, and then Marty.

Have a great few weeks.

Friday Letter, 8-2-18

There were a few things hopping this week.

I am back from the WACTC President’s retreat and getting caught up. The system presidents talked about several issues, including the possibility of making “compensation” for all employees our top “ask”, getting updated about ctcLink, and reviewing the work of consultants who were hired to figure out the best messaging we can use with the legislature.

Leadership from both Cascadia and UWB are in a joint Emergency Operations Center exercise this afternoon. I enjoy these opportunities to practice our preparedness; we’ll see how this one goes.

I finished my research meetings this week which have attempted to brainstorm possible new revenue sources for us. I will take the 50 (or so) ideas to the executive team and we will narrow them down to the top 3-5 for which we will conduct a more formal cost-benefit analyses. From there, we will work with the Trustees and eventually the legislature (if needed) to see if we can execute the ideas and manage them well given current work loads.

Kerry Levett joined us and has been getting the low-down on all things Cascadia. The three hours we had on Monday were used to orient her to our priorities. That’s also a good opportunity for me when I have to summarize our work and our projects. It reminds me of the depth and complexity of our work, but also the mission of what we’re trying to do.

Finally, a colleague from back east recently published a book in which a quote of mine was used. I received a copy of the book this week, entitled Competing on Culture: Driving Change in Community Colleges. My quote reads as such:

My desire to be a president came only after watching other presidents fail to create a positive climate where their employees could thrive and do their very best to assist students. I steward the institution, which includes creating a culture our employees embrace and helping them be their very best. Making the campus a place where employees want to spend their time, feel valued, and can share enthusiasm for the learning process with our students is paramount to my role. And, in turn, it helps students succeed because they feel the investment and support from our faculty and staff. This is simply a part of the mission.

I wrote that in February 2017. These words hold true for me today. I realize that in upholding this duty I also make mistakes along the journey. But my intent is always to protect students, the institution, AND our employee’s welfare. I believe that all of our leaders at Cascadia embrace these words as part of their own duty and I’m glad we have a team that wants to create a culture that helps us all do our best.

Have a great weekend.


Friday Letter 7-26-18

Greetings from the WACTC President’s Retreat.  They’ve isolated us in some forest east of Vancouver.  Don’t come searching; they’ve told us we will be released unharmed and I’ll be back Monday!

This week I’d like to share a little information about our new VPSLS, Dr. Kerry Levett. Kerry will be starting with us on Monday and I will be giving her the $5 tour of campus Monday afternoon. I hope you’ll take a chance to say hello over the next few weeks and introduce yourself.

Kerry previously served as the executive dean of student affairs at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. She also held leadership positions in student housing, undergraduate engagement, and student life during her career in higher ed. Prior to her role in administration, she taught classes in dissertation creation strategies, research methods for social sciences and developmental psychology. All administrators need a background in developmental psych…right?

During the interview process I was happy that Kerry and I got a chance to focus on a few specific topics. Not only does she have experience with Guided Pathways, but she has extensive experience with change management. I am confident that Kerry understands the importance of good communication, engaging employees, and listening. As well, Kerry has a long background in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives. I am also looking forward to her contributions in how we shape our campus in these areas.

As a reminder to all of us, Kerry will be drinking from the proverbial fire hose during her first few months. I know that we are all anxious to start afresh with certain projects, but we must allow Kerry the time to get acquainted with us. (That’s as much a reminder for me as it is for you.) She will be attending the eteam retreat, the Trustees retreat, emergency operations training, and other pre-fall activities; her schedule is already full. In addition, I know that she will be trying to spend time getting to know the staff and faculty in the Student Learning and Student Success division.

Kerry holds a doctorate of education in higher and postsecondary education from Arizona State University, a master’s degree in education from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in Christian education from Westminster College. I hope you’ll take some time to get to know her and explore her story.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter 7-12-18

Summer is a time of intense planning around the college. Not only are we doing the daily work required by summer session, but we turn to projects that have needed our attention. It is well-known that we have some enormous things on the horizon, including ctcLink, go.Cascadia, technology accessibility, and accreditation. All of these things will hit peaks this coming academic year and in an attempt to be as thoughtful as possible about managing these changes, two dozen managers at the college (including the executive team) went through two days of training on Change Management this week.

While we used ctcLink as our primary example, other planned changes also were brought into the fold. We were asked to think about these questions:

  • Why are we making these changes?
  • Why are we making these changes NOW?
  • What will be changing?
  • What will NOT be changing?
  • What is the risk of not changing?

These were thought provoking questions. As each project began, we could answer these questions. But change is an evolution, or an adaptation. And the answers to these questions get more complex and important as we dive deeper into each project. Communicating the answers to these questions is also important to change management…something we are learning how to do better.

With the training in mind, it is my hope to create an archive where employees can explore a brief synopsis of each project. This synopsis would follow a model called ADKAR.

A – Awareness. Are you aware of the need that has led to a change? Are you aware of the pending change?

D – Desire. How many of us really desire this change or adaptation? What motivates us to engage this effort?

K – Knowledge. What is knowledge base that will facilitate the change?

A – Ability. Once we have acquired the knowledge, what abilities (or skills) do we need to develop to fully realize the change?

R – Reinforcement. What are the motivating reasons behind the change that will sustain our efforts to execute the new knowledge and abilities.

Each of the priorities of the college will have this analysis completed. In addition, each priority has a team of staff and faculty assigned to help with its execution. Go.Cascadia will list the contacts for each priority so you can get the information you need in person.

In the most creative of examples, you can see how this work has led to our first fully developed information site on the ctcLink project. Please visit this link (or

Thanks for your patience as we get this information in order and for your continued efforts to ride along as our Cascadia planet evolves.

Don’t forget: Want to give a shout out to an employee or program? Send me an email at

Have a great weekend.

Friday (Thursday) Letter, 6-28-18

Both Vicki and I will be away next week so the next installment of the Friday (Thursday) Letter will come on July 12. Meagan Walker will be acting president during our time away.

Lane Closure

Faculty and students will return on Monday, July 2 for classes. Remember that Beardslee is slated to be closed westbound for the month of July. It may take longer to get to campus than usual.

Down the Alley

After two days of classes, the college will close for July 4th. Students and employees will be amassing at 11:00 in the surface parking lots on July 4 to march in Bothell’s annual parade. Everyone is welcome to join. Just look for the college’s mobile trailer. The weather forecast is calling for sunny skies and 72-degrees. Summer weather is supposed to start after July 4, right?   Let’s hope so.

Lanes Open

For the 32 of you in the bowling league, Erin “Queen Pin” Blakeney and I are working on team formation, getting the contract with the bowling alley established, and designing a launch party in September. You’ll be receiving an email soon about those details.

Gutter Ball

It’s been a general work week in the President’s Office. (It was really more of a strike or at least a split, but thought gutter ball would be more intriguing.) That included a few meetings with community partners such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Northshore Senior Center; routine meetings such as the ctcLink Steering Committee and executive team; and special project work such as bond capacity with the State Board (I’m on a state work group), the staff forum this last Tuesday on new revenue sourcing, and collecting data I’ll need for the Trustees and Convocation.

A Strike

Don’t forget: Want to give a shout out to an employee or program? Send me an email at

Have a great weekend.


Friday (Thursday) Letter, 6-21-18

It’s been a rough week in the President’s Office. Seems that the flu season didn’t get the memo that it was over. Eh…rest, fluids, and Netflix.

In other news, we’ve been finishing up spring quarter activities, organizing retreats for the executive team and Trustees in September, organizing pre-fall week and Convocation, and getting back to day-to-day business. My revenue research project will continue through the summer as well as organizing the Biotech consortium that Cascadia leads. Fortunately, we are just about to hand off the Biotech work to a contractor we found through an RFP process. We were able to do that through a grant by the legislature.

We have also begun planning and implementing the parking change-over. As you will recall from a year ago, our reserved parking will be going away to be replaced with 27 “employee only” spots on the bottom floor. This attached memo outlines the reasons for this and our path forward. This change will become effective September 10. We’ll be bringing you more reminders as we get closer to the 10th.

Just so everyone is aware, we will welcome new VPSLS Kerry Levett on Monday, July 30. The deans will provide continuity of leadership through July.

I heard this week that folks are already trying to plan for fall. (What?!?! We just started summer!) Convocation has been of particular interest. We have decided to change things up a bit with Convocation on Monday September 17. There will continue to be our all-employee session from 9:30-11:30. We will spend this time doing two things: 1) our state of the college update, and 2) an update on the state of our Equity and Inclusion initiatives.

Lunch will be on your own this year and we will wrap up the day with a 4:30-6:00 Foundation-Sponsored Presidents Pub on the Patio. Or, PPP. (That’s what the cool kids are calling it these days.) There will be light snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, beer & wine, and (if I can convince Gene Taylor to get his apron out of retirement) summer margaritas.

I expect to see everyone at the morning session and hope to see you at the end of day gathering on the 17th.

Don’t forget: Want to give a shout out to an employee or program? Send me an email at

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 6-1-18

Next week is commencement. Many of our students have reached the conclusion of their time with us and will move to the next chapter of their lives. I hope you will join us on Friday at 4:00 to celebrate. It is the best day of the year.

We will also celebrate milestones with our employees next Wednesday from 3:00-5:00 at the All-Employee Celebration. This is also one of the top 5 days of the year.

I would like to thank International Programs for sponsoring the post-graduation reception and to the Foundation for providing the food at the All-Employee event.

As we prepare for summer, I’d like to encourage you to look at the email recently sent by Sara Gomez Taylor regarding opportunities to represent Cascadia in your community. College Relations could use the help staffing the booths at each event. It’s important for Cascadia to show up at these events and celebrate with our communities. It’s also a good time. There are events in Redmond, Woodinville, Bothell and Kirkland.

Today I would have been writing you from Centralia, where the Presidents are meeting for WACTC this month. More importantly, our VPSLS candidates have been on campus during this same time and I figured the other presidents were less important than our candidates. =) Thank you for attending the community forums yesterday and to those who will attend today. I will be reading your feedback on Monday and will begin reference checks then as well.

As we get ready for our celebrations next week, I leave you with a quote by Jewish philosopher and theologian Abraham Heschel (1907-1972). It seems his words are even more true today, in the age of mobile devices and internet, than they were when he wrote them: People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state–it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 5-25-18

What’s happening?


The Trustees have seen the college budget as distributed to the campus a few weeks ago. They have passed it along to a 2nd Read which will happen at the June 13 Board meeting. If passed, the budget goes into effect on July 1.


Our committee, under the leadership of Tori and Erin, have narrowed the pool down to 4 final candidates. Those schedules and biographies are being distributed today and next week. The candidates will be with us on May 31 and June 1, two candidates each day. I hope you will come to their “Community Presentations”. I look forward to reading through your feedback. I hope to have an offer made before Commencement.


The efforts around our consortium with 12 biotech companies and 7 higher education institutions continues. We have now released a Request For Proposals to hire a consultant to finish the workforce gap analysis. This is being paid for out of a grant given to Cascadia by the legislature.


This work also continues. I’ve had two forums with faculty; thanks to those who attended. Over the summer, I have 6 business lunches set up with business owners in the 6 communities we serve. We will be reviewing the ideas generated in late summer and early fall.


I will post an update before Commencement to describe an intended path forward regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts. Thanks to everyone who has provided input and to the input still to be received.


  • There’s a student art show in the gallery. I encourage you to find some time to visit. Thanks to Chris for his efforts in bringing art to the gallery.
  • Don’t come to work on Monday. It’s Memorial Day!
  • Rosemary’s retirement party is next Wednesday at 4:00pm, CC2-261.
  • Don’t forget to sign up for bowling if you have not done so already. There were still 7 slots available (out of 32) as of this week. Deadline is June 1 for sign-ups.
  • Make sure to thank our student leaders. They had a very successful and sunny SpringFest this week.

Have a great weekend.