Friday Letter, 2-16-18

How much do you know about Valentine’s Day?

Wikipedia says this:

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

Martyrdom stories associated with Valentine include a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome’s imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.“

I spent my “day of martyrdom” on Mt Olympus putting out fires. I have been in Olympia since Wednesday morning doing so.  Here are some of the things going on down here:

Fire #1: There was a rumor that the Empire was not going to fund CC4.  For the moment, I have affirmed that the rumor is false. We will know next week when the House and Senate release their budgets.

Fire #2: The senate is considering pulling back the Running Start funding that was coming to us based on the budget passed last year. That’s about a million bucks for Cascadia. I did not make headway in changing people’s minds.  The Senate believes it should stay with K-12 and not follow the student through to community college.  The House may think differently.  The presidents are working together to communicate that we need that money.

Fire #3: We are working to add some language to a faculty bargaining bill so as to avoid a situation where some colleges will “have” the ability to bargain successfully and others will “not have” that ability. There’s more detail in this last one than I want to cover here, but happy to talk about  this one individually. That bill is still working its way through the system.

I don’t envy Valentine one bit. Yesterday was spent caucusing with the rest of the college presidents who arrived for our monthly WACTC meeting.  We are putting together some strong messaging to help encourage lawmakers to remember their love for the community and technical colleges.  The session ends March 8; I have no idea where we will land on some of these issues.  We need a little of St Valentine’s help at the moment.

On a good note, Monday this week was spent celebrating the passing of the Master Plan. Thanks to Trustees Captain and Kelly for joining folks from the City of Bothell, UWB, and UW Seattle to congratulate on a job-well-done.  Thanks to Terence and Meagan for providing great leadership along the way.

I will continue to be in Olympia today as we finish up some business. Back on campus, we are in the home stretch with regards to scholarship applications. The Cascadia College Foundation awards scholarships on an annual basis and, since 2013, they have presented more than $275,000 in awards to our students.  Many thanks go out to Cascadia staff and faculty, longtime friends of the college, and community organizations for supporting these efforts.  This year has been a good year for the Foundation and in April they will award almost 60 scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year – more than double their annual average. It will be their biggest year to date. As the deadline of Friday, March 2nd approaches, I’d like to invite you to help out by encouraging our students to get their applications in.

Please enjoy the long weekend. See you on Tuesday.

Friday Letter, 2-9-18

This has been the kind of week I long for. Every day on campus (i.e., no Olympia or other travel) and progress on a lot of projects.

One of the projects I am coordinating for the region is to bring together about a dozen biotech companies and seven institutions of higher education to conduct a gap analysis on workforce needs. We then hope to develop educational pathways to meet those needs. It’s the first time we have worked regionally to perform this kind of work. Our partners include the 5-Star Consortium (Cascadia, Shoreline, Edmonds, Everett, LWIT), Bellevue College, and UW Bothell. This got kick-started by a local company (Juno) who is expecting to expand their workforce by 900 employees over the next two years. We’ve had our first meeting. There is another in March and then in April. We hope to have academic pathways in the works by the time we are finished.

The second project, which I’ve reported on previously, is my 8-month long research project around new revenue sources. I have completed interviews with all 6 city managers in our district and am now moving on to develop our summit of industry leaders. They will help brainstorm our commodities and suggest possibilities for us. I hope to have that summit in April. I plan to conduct campus forums in May soliciting ideas from those of us on campus.

While I may not have been in Olympia, I continue to work on behalf of the State Board to communicate with legislators as the session progresses. The legislative session ends on March 8, or so they say. I plan to include in that week’s Friday Letter a list of bills important to us and the disposition of those bills. There have been issues around capital dollars, running start, and bargaining, among others.

On a side note,we were also reminded by the State Board this week that Governor Inslee’s executive order directs state agencies to refrain from inquiring about a person’s immigration status in order to determine whether that person has complied with immigration laws. This means that all of us, as employees, must not inquire about this status. It will help us continue to build a safe community.

Upcoming events, I hope to see you at these:

Legislative Town Halls. The 1st District (Palumbo, Stanford, and Kloba) will hold a town hall here at Cascadia in Mobius from 3:30-5:00 on February 17.  They will report on their activities and take questions.  Similarly, the 45th (Dhingra, Springer, Goodman) will host their town hall on the same day but at Lake Washington Tech, 11:30-1:00.  I will be at both.

President’s Pub (brought to you by the Cascadia College Foundation), for employees only. Join your colleagues for a Foundation-sponsored social event. It’s the return of a legend. February 26, 4:00-6:00pm, CC2-261.

Join Huda Sarhan and Becky Riopel in a group conversation about the Women’s March movement and the controversy/divisiveness it creates among sub-groups of women. They will share a brief history of the march and give folks a chance to talk about their personal experience in the march, the perception of the march through the lens of media and the perception from those who heard about the march from participants. The hope is to have a mutual dialogue in a confidential and respectful space. March 7, 12:00-1:00pm, CC2-261.

Next week, I am back to the travel routine. I will be in Olympia Wednesday through Friday.  Wednesday is another lobbying day and the other two days are for the Presidents’ monthly meeting.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 2-2-18

This has been an interesting and (mostly) campus-based week for me.

I had one day in Olympia where I testified on a Running Start bill. Cascadia has subsidized the Running Start program over the years using other revenue sources. This is necessary because we do not receive the same tuition for RS students as we receive for our state-supported students despite the fact that Running Start is a particularly staff-intensive program.

Next year, the revenues for Running Start will become equal to those for state-supported students. That’s a good thing. However, the legislature wants to dictate how that extra money is spent. That’s not a good thing. While the intentions are good (lawmakers want to help RS students on free and reduced lunch), if they were to give us local control of those extra funds, we could probably help more than just those students. There’s a social equity issue at play. My role was to explain this to the legislature on Monday.

This made for an interesting discussion at this month’s Cavoline TED talk. We talked about the cost of education and student loan indebtedness. Yes…we want to help lower-income Running Start students get access to higher education, but we also want to help the displaced worker, the 40-year-old returning student get a certificate, the single parent, and the homeless 18-year-old…without racking up insurmountable debt. It is difficult to find systemic solutions to the dilemma and many of us (including me) left the TED talk without knowing how we can help. But, I believe that this is the purpose of all of our Cavolines…to stimulate us to think about complex issues around equity and inclusion.

So I thought more this week about how we can help our students with needs. In addition to being able to direct students to student services staff, counseling, the Veterans Center, the Bock Center, and the Center for Culture, Inclusion & Community, we have a few new resources that have been made available through the Cascadia College Foundation. There is money to help Running Start students purchase textbooks, a brand new scholarship that will be awarded to individuals who enroll via College Goal Cascadia, and a scholarship designed to help students who are just a few credits shy of completing their degrees. And, as we process the DIA feedback, we hope to find more ways we can be equitable and inclusive.

Campus leadership has begun synthesizing comments from the DIA. This will take us several weeks. Ultimately, we hope to translate them into initiatives important to the campus’s health that can be accomplished with existing resources. Thanks again for your candid feedback. We’ll report back soon. In the meantime, I hope you will write or depict your reflections on the back of the “Your Voice. Your Space. No Hate.” cards and display those in your work spaces. I am looking forward to seeing them on my next visit to your space.


I want to announce the RETURN OF THE PRESIDENT’S PUB. Yes, you heard right. The return of the Pub. Once upon a time, the President would provide beer, wine and a specialty drink in a cozy late afternoon venue with sweet and salty snacks. The great State of Washington reminded the colleges 3 years ago that this can’t happen at a state agency unless it were to occur “after hours”. The president decided that the college never closes, so “after hours” was impossible, thereby bringing this social time to its demise.

Well, the Foundation has subsequently decided this event is important to the fabric of our institution, and as a NON-STATE entity, it can have a function whenever it wants to help with its mission. Therefore, on February 26 from 4:00-6:00 pm in CC2-261, the Foundation cordially invites employees to attend the “President’s Pub (brought to you by the Cascadia College Foundation)”. Make sure you’re done with work; understand there is a 2-drink limit (and non-alcoholic beverages are also provided); and come enjoy the company of your co-workers.  The Foundation will distribute some information on its current activities and future plans. How exciting is this???


As you know, we celebrated Marion’s long tenure with Cascadia yesterday. Her departure leaves a vacancy at the welcome desk. Cascadia will cover this position by hiring an additional customer service specialist 3 for enrollment services. All of the customer service specialists will share responsibilities for working at the Kodiak Corner desk AND the welcome desk. In the interim, all questions should be referred to Kodiak Corner until our new system is in place.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 1-26-18

The highlight of my week was the DIA. As I walked around during team meetings and the skill building workshops, I heard people engaged and enthusiastic.  Thank you for your participation.  Your ideas about our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campus will be synthesized and turned into something actionable.  We’ll report back as soon as we have an idea of where we’re headed.

I’m not sure you would call it a highlight, but I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Olympia. Monday was with Trustee Roy Captain for a New Trustee Orientation; Trustee Janet McDaniel joined us in the evening on Monday for the Transforming Lives Scholarship dinner.  Tuesday was spent lobbying with UWB and then beginning my monthly presidents’ meeting, which spilled over into Wednesday.

The top 3 topics of interest at the state level:

  • The supplemental capital budget. I’ve been working on that one. I am still hopeful that CC4 will be in the bill.
  • Running Start legislation. I’ve been asked to testify next Monday on the costs of that program.
  • ctcLink…we are still waiting to hear if we are in the next group to move forward.

We spent LOTS of time on these topics.

The Foundation Board meets today and is continuing to do good work. Scholarship season is here and the deadline for submission is March 2.  Please get the word out to students and direct them to the webpage.  There is a link in the main header (the rotating feature) of the homepage.

Activities next week include a return visit to Olympia on Monday and my second Cavoline TED talk on Wednesday about Student Loan Indebtedness. I hope to see you there (noon, CC2-170).

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 1-19-18

It’s been a whirlwind of a week and I don’t see the end of it just yet. Welcome to Friday…I hope we have a great weekend…and here’s the update:

The Trustees met on Wednesday. I received my evaluation…and they voted to renew my contract through 2022.  (That makes me happy.)  The Trustees also visited the Bock Learning Center and received a tour from Lindsay Burke.  They were completely impressed by the growth and professionalism of the unit.  Kudos to Lindsay and her staff for leading one of our highly-valued resources on campus.  Nice job.

The Trustees heard from Catherine Crain, Sharon Saxton, Natalie Serianni, and Gene Taylor about their sabbaticals last year and from Sarah Leadley, who gave a presentation on the Library. They were also updated on ctcLink, the Campus Master Plan, and CC4 and CC5. As I said, we have a lot going on and I enjoy keeping the board informed. We have tremendous assets at Cascadia.  (We are fortunate.)

I will be in Olympia next week on Monday with Trustee Roy Captain as he goes through the State Board’s Trustee Orientation. (Grant us patience.)  Following the all-day orientation, Trustee Janet McDaniel will join us for a dinner with Senator Guy Palumbo and our Transforming Lives Scholarship nominee LaShanta Sealy.  The five of us will be joined by the trustees, legislators, and student nominees from all 34 colleges in the state.

The next two days are also in Olympia as I meet with legislators and have my monthly presidents’ meeting. The meeting with legislators will be conducted jointly with UWB in our first attempt to lobby jointly. (Wish us luck.)

I’ll be back on Thursday in time for our DIA. You can find the agenda here and I hope to see you there.  We are using this day to help guide us as to our next steps with regard to diversity and equity on campus.  Your input is highly valued.  We want to make sure that this remains a priority, yet we also want to think strategically. (It’s gonna be a good day.)  As a side note, I’ve been holding onto this handout regarding LGBTQ allyship.  Given the topic of next week’s DIA, I thought it might be appropriate to share it with you now.  Click here.

Finally, we had two great workshops last week on generational differences. They were conducted in my Cavoline TED Talk series.  Several folks have requested the link to the TED Talk, so it is provided here.  Thanks for the participation; they were fun discussions.  As a Gen-Xer, I am an action-oriented Do-er (or so they say).  It makes sense…just look at this week’s letter.  I think I need to program in some down time.  I hope you do so as well.  =)

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 1-12-18

As promised, I was in Olympia this week on two separate days. Monday was spent in 7 legislative meetings, mostly with Representatives of the House, lobbying for the addition of 5 projects to the capital funding list.  The last project would be our own, CC4.  There was generally good reception for this addition.  My case:  by funding this facility, we move forward with building capacity at Cascadia, thereby allowing us to increase enrollment, thereby allowing us to get more students to UW (since we’re the best Transfer College in the state), thereby allowing us to meet the workforce needs of our region.  They bought it.

When I’m in Olympia, I “home base” in Senator Guy Palumbo’s office. His aides like me; I bring them Dr. Pepper.  I also responded to a comment by Senator Palumbo about the fact that he has more purple in his office (UWB) than blue (Cascadia).  Vicki and I hatched a plan.  We ordered 3 dozen helium filled blue balloons for me to put in his office.  As I carried the balloons into the State Capital building, two very nice, but persistent, State Troopers said I could not bring balloons into the building.  Even with all my charm and Dr. Pepper, I could not get around them.  The balloons therefore ended up at the sundial in the middle of the legislative campus.  See the picture.  We still got points with Senator Palumbo…it’s now a story that goes into the books.

Yesterday was my second visit to Olympia. I testified before the Senate Ways and Means committee about the capital funding list.  I hopefully made a compelling argument about the projects (see “my case” above).  On January 23rd I return to Olympia with Kelly Snyder from UWB.  She and I will jointly lobby the decision makers for our funding so that we can sync the building of UW4 with CC4, making the projects more cost-efficient for both of us.  This could be the first of many steps the legislature takes to demonstrate support for the co-location and the efficacy of our relationship.

Two other things of note this week.

Thanks to those who attended my TED talk on generational differences. This is a part of our Cavoline opportunities for building inter-cultural competence.  The two sessions were well-attended with great conversation.  I appreciate your attendance and look forward to the next talk on student loan indebtedness.

This week I also began in earnest my Trustee-approved research project. I am spending the next 8 months in a 3-step process to determine the most viable means by which we can increase our revenue outside of the legislative funding mechanisms of tuition and state-support.  Step One is to meet with all of the city administrators in our district to see how they might directly help the college financially.  As well, they will tie me in with the 5 most entrepreneurial business leaders in their communities to come to a summit on campus (Step Two) to determine our commodities and opportunities for revenue development.  Step Three involves a summit for our legislative leaders to have them help change policy and support these revenue ideas.  At the end of the project. I will evaluate the costs and benefits of the ideas and propose some new objectives to the Trustees about how we might generate more revenue.  My goal is to increase the operating budget by $2M, or 10% of our budget.

I’ve completed four city administrator meetings (as of noon today) with four more to come. After I’ve collected ideas from the cities and the business leaders, I will be hosting an open forum with campus to solicit your opinions of these ideas and to hear YOUR ideas.  I am excited about the process.  It is systematic and I am hopeful will we find something.  As a result of our Coffees for Three, I developed this project because, after hearing from you, I realized we can no longer wait for the legislature to meet our needs.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 1-5-18

Welcome to Winter Quarter. Let’s be thankful that we are not in the same blizzard situation as the east coast.  Although it’s been a short week, I know that everyone has been extremely busy.  Thanks to the help desk volunteers, the Kodiak Korner staff, and the International Programs staff who have done extra duty this week.

We know we’re full and enrollment is good. On Wednesday we received a message that all on-campus parking lots were full by 10:30am and that the Truly Shuttle was being heavily utilized.  I am hopeful that the $29M loan to build new parking will be authorized by the legislature this month and we can proceed with those projects.

Legislative activities have consumed most of my time this week. Tuesday night was a Kenmore send-off for the 46th district legislators.  Wednesday night was a send-off for the 1st district legislators (which we hosted with UWB, the City of Bothell, and our student governments), and yesterday morning was an entire eastside breakfast with legislators.  From all of these events, what have I learned?

I’ve learned that there is momentum to add a few more dollars to the capital budget this session to fund the community colleges’ construction list as far down as our project. If we indeed receive our $3.5M in design money in the next 2 months, our Best Case Scenario is to open CC4 by January 2022 (4 years from now).  I’m not sure if “construction project” and “best case scenario” have ever been used in the same sentence before, but we can hope.

There are other initiatives being discussed about raising full- and part-time faculty salaries and adding conversion faculty positions to each community college, but I don’t have a prediction on their outcomes. I will be lobbying for those things however when I am down in Olympia this quarter.  My first visit is on Monday when I’ll be meeting with a least 7 different legislators to review Cascadia’s and the system’s priorities.

I want to conclude today with interesting and happy news about the success of our baccalaureate students in Sustainable Practices. I’m quite happy that within 6 months of graduation we have students doing this kind of work:

  • Sales Associate at Recology in Bothell
  • A student launched his own company offering regulatory and sustainability consultation for the cosmetics industry.
  • Sustainability Educator at City Growers in Brooklyn, NY
  • Employee Transportation Specialist with Swedish Medical Center
  • Parks Maintenance employee with Carlsbad (CA) Parks and Rec
  • Solar System Designer with Artisan Electric

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 12-21-17

Grades are in? Financial Aid is awarded?  Students are enrolled?  Are we ready for a long winter’s sleep?  I think the answer to those questions is Yes, No, No, and YES!!  Thanks to those working around the clock to help get things running for Winter Quarter.

As promised, I have attached HERE a summary of the Coffee for Three ideas. With over 100 individual ideas, I tried to categorize the best I could.  The executive team will review the detailed suggestions starting in Winter Quarter.  I plan to repeat the process in 4 years…I’ll start calendaring now. =)

This week was a flurry of activity in the President’s Suite, as I am sure it was in other offices. We worked on the DIA for January (more about that next quarter), we agreed to host a small gathering to determine how to help a Bothell company meet their workforce needs for a 1000 employee expansion, and I started on an 8-month research project approved last week by the Trustees.

The research projects goes like this: I will be spending the next few months interviewing city administrators in our district, and then hosting a half-day business leader summit, and then hosting a half-day legislative summit in order to develop revenue ideas that will help us meet our expenses.  Our expenses are rising at a faster rate than our revenues. Since we do not control our revenue (legislative funding and tuition) and since the expenses are mandated (ctcLink, software licensing increases, collective bargaining obligations, etc) we have to start methodologically identifying our commodities and partnerships to start leveraging them as funding sources.  I’ll gather this info through the summer and then complete a cost-benefit analysis to determine if any of the newly-generated ideas seem worthwhile to add to our plate.  In fall next year, I hope to relate what I’ve learned to the campus (and the Trustees) so we can make some informed decisions about how to tackle this problem.

While we are financially stable at the moment, everyone knows from Convocation that our reserves are scheduled to get smaller because of predicted revenue shortfalls. It is my intent to see if we can reverse that trend AND give us more flexibility in affording the things we need, like competitive salaries and program support.  This is a long-term and systematic process; I figured I should start it now while we are healthy rather than waiting for when we are in desperate times.  I estimate that any idea we ultimately employ will take several years to start producing revenue streams given start-up phasing.

So next quarter you will see me very active in Olympia (7 visits, 4 of which are overnighters) and very active working on this research project. That’s in addition to all of the other priorities on our plate.  Yes, I am ready for a long winter’s sleep, but that may have to wait until summer.

I wish you a restful holiday, I’m excited for the new year, and I thank you for a wonderful 2017. I am holding down the office next week, Wednesday through Friday…stop by to chat.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 12-15-17

The last day of the quarter. You made it.

I’ve been back at work full time this week after two successful eye surgeries over the last month. Thanks for all who have inquired and endured my story-telling about the experience.  I’m healing well, I’m seeing well.  I’ll have a new pair of glasses to dial things in as of February 1, but am (for the first time in my life) functional without any aids even now.  I’ve also appreciated hearing from other people who have similar issues or have gone through similar processes.

Vicki Newton and I wish to thank the 102 people who stopped by the Koffee Haus yesterday. We were thrilled to visit with everyone and help you wrap up the quarter.  Speaking of coffee, two other things to report.  I have completed the Coffee for Three series.  I will be sharing some reflections from that process next week in the Friday Letter.  And, the winners of a Starbucks gift card for having selected the prized Star Wars trading cards were Marion (info desk) and Martin (financial aid).  Congrats to the both of you and I hope you will learn from Obi-Wan’s teachings.

For staff: Please remember that we begin an alternative work schedule for two weeks beginning NEXT week.

Beginning December 18, we revert to a 4-day, 10 hour work week.

We’ll work 10 hours on December 18, 19, 20, and 21. The college will be closed on December 22nd.

The college will also be closed on December 25th and 26th.

December 27, 28, and 29 will be 10-hour work days.

We are closed Monday, January 1 and return to 8 hour days beginning January 2.

Thanks to Katherine Raines for sharing an article and video with me about a former student. Derek Flett is a Learning Center employee and his research project was published and presented to his peers last week in New Orleans. “We’re all very proud of Derek and expect great things from him!” He will be graduating from the UWB Engineering program this spring.

The Board of Trustees met this week to begin my end-of-year review. While they recognize that we have to constantly put out fires and address challenges, they expressed their satisfaction with the entire campus and our employees’ dedication to our students and institutional health. I thought I would pass that along.

If you are interested in viewing some of that success, our Japanese students who come to us from Trajal Hospitality College are graduating from their 9 month English program tonight (6-8pm, Mobius). It is always an entertaining and meaningful ceremony.  You are welcome to attend.  Thanks to the International Programs staff and ELP faculty for the extra effort it takes to stand up this mid-year graduation ceremony.

Stay well and have a great weekend.

Yours Truly Students on Trust

Fall Quarter 2017 Magazine Publication students are once again reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, but this time they’ll be reporting on the “Big Magic” day they led in class. Students, divided into groups based on each chapter, will facilitate a discussion and lead activities that integrate the ideas from Gilbert’s book. Here, Cascadia students Keara and Skyler share their experience of exploring TRUST.

by Keara Capetti and Skyler Nelson

“Be careful of your dignity…it is not always your friend.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

When walking into a classroom on a cold December day the week before finals, you would expect to find most students stressed out, doing whatever they can last minute to get their best grade possible. Last week was “dead week” and for most of us, the work has been piling up and tensions getting high. The last thing you would expect to find is a group of college students trying to moo like a cow in unison, but that’s what we were doing on December 4th in HUMAN 210 class.

For the Big Magic chapter “Trust” we wanted to do something different. What caught our inspiration most in the chapter was Gilbert’s remarks on “embracing your inner trickster,” trusting your work to give back to you as you give to it, and we knew exactly what to do… improv. Instead of discussing how we trust ourselves, others, and our passions with the class, we wanted to demonstrate trust with action. Trust me when I say it’s no easy feat to go up in front of a group of non-theater people and pretend to be a cat, but the kind of open, welcoming, and trusting environment we have built in the classroom let us play and explore.

We had the idea to incorporate some beginner improvisational theatre games. The standard definition of improvisation is “the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation” ( Not only is improv a form of theatre but it’s something that we do in our lives as a response to a certain situation. For example, if you’re in a stressful situation, you may find yourself making something up on the spot and improvising your way out of the debacle. Improvisational theatre has so many levels we thought starting small would be a great way to get people out of their shells and having SO much fun.

The games played in the class were “Bibbity Bibbity Bop,” “Rumors,” “Freeze,” and “Alien Tiger Cow.” In case anyone is looking to embrace their inner trickster, we will leave video links down below that will explain exactly how to play these games yourself. Get tricky with it!

Bibbity Bibbity Bop:
Alien, Tiger, Cow:

Our call for submission closes on December 31st! Contribute to Yours Truly by submitting here: