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 FLShoutout@cascadia.edu.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter – Summer Edition

Tis the season!  Now that we are on our 4-10 summer work schedule and closed on Fridays, the Friday Letter will land at your door steps on Thursdays. This particular letter mirrors the frenzy that has overtaken us these last few weeks as we wound up the academic year. That is to say, I’m covering vast and varied territory here.

Congratulations to our students.  Last week’s commencement went off very well.  And, congratulations to those responsible for putting the ceremony together.  A special shout-out to Becky Riopel for her leadership, and Shandy Stomieroski and Kirk Heynen for their tireless work, and Jodene Anicello for an awesome speech. Thank you also to International Programs for the reception treats. Link to the 2018 Graduation photo gallery on the website.

In response to one of the comments we received on the CESS, we are introducing a new feature to the Friday Letters.  Through the years there has been concern that only select folks get recognition in the Friday Letter for their work.  Admittedly, I can only report on the things to which I am a part.  There are certainly so many things that go on outside of my view that I don’t know about.

Therefore, there exists now the FLShoutout@cascadia.edu email.  That’s the “Friday Letter Shout Out” email address you can use to send me a note on something extraordinary done by one of your colleagues, or point me to newsworthy items to be included in the Friday Letter.  Please remember that I try to limit the Friday Letter to one page, so not all suggestions may be incorporated.  There’s a fix for THAT coming too as we move toward launching go.cascadia.  That platform will include a master calendar and homepage sections to spotlight important news and interesting features. Hopefully, these methods of communication, in partnership will keep everyone up to speed and recognized for the great work you do.

I’ll take this opportunity to point out another communication tool: Cascadia’s Report to the Community. This undertaking was financed by our Foundation. We haven’t produced one for several years, it’s nice to have it again as it allows us to showcase our college and students to our greater community. Please share the link with anyone who might be interested.

The Board of Trustees had its final meeting of the year last night.  The Trustees approved our budget which will go into effect on July 1.  Thanks to the Trustees for their participation in the various ceremonies over the last couple of weeks.  As well, they have presided over a number of important issues from budget to tenure; I appreciate their support of the college.

On Monday, the rainbow flag will be raised on campus. UW Seattle, UW Bothell, and Cascadia have agreed to fly the flag for the week in recognition of gay pride. The annual pride festival culminates with Seattle’s Pride Parade on Sunday the 24th.

Next Tuesday, June 19, from 5:00-7:00 PM, the Bothell-Kenmore Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual community open house.  This occurs every year in Mobius and there will be free wine and bites among the 40+ vendors hanging out at the event.  I hope you’ll be able to attend for a few minutes before you head home.

As you embark on summer adventures in and around the college, thank you for a great year with lots of hard work. I leave you with this happy memory from our End of the Year Celebration.

Cascadia-Employee-Group_2018

Have a great weekend.

Eric

P.S. Marty played goalie for 15 years and says this is the only way he knows how to pose for photos.

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?

BUDGET:

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.

VPSLS SEARCH:

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.

BIOTECH WORK:

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.

REVENUE ENHANCEMENT RESEARCH

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.

DEI

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.

REMINDERS

  • 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.

Friday Letter, 5-18-18

We have a lot to accomplish in the next few weeks. We’ll conclude the quarter with all of the requisite fanfare, grades will be determined, summer session will begin, and we’ll try to wrap up the many activities that affect us all.  We will officially recognize (on June 6) those that received tenure last night at the board meeting and we will celebrate our students’ success at commencement.  However, in our daily business, we also have to think about the many distractions we face in our work.

This installment of the Friday Letter is not a referendum on politics, religion, race, national origin, ability, age, gender, orientation, or any belief or differentiation. This letter is in response to what seems like a constant stream of incidents that appeal to our shared humanity.

Like so many of us, I have been preoccupied by the rise in hate speech incidents in our community and on our campus. Last week, as we notified you, an individual brought his anti-Muslim sign and bigoted messages to the promenade. I recognize such incidents cause trauma and fear to our students, faculty, and staff. Hate speech is an affront to our dignity, runs counter to our college values, and is a repugnant manifestation of the national tension in which we find ourselves.

Following incidents like this one, we get a flurry of emails asking why we don’t interfere. The short answer is that, as a public institution, we cannot prevent this speech unless it rises to the level of a specific threat, fits the legal definition of harassment, or interrupts our ability to teach or do business.

That response doesn’t do anything to heal the hurt or quell the anger. Members of our community are pushing for quick action. They deserve to see the evidence that they matter and that we care. They want “us” to do more.

So, what can we do? First, I think we must understand that “we” is all of us. Every individual or constituency on campus, including the administration, has the ability to do something.  At the individual level, we encourage you to continue sharing your concerns, voicing your opinions, looking out for one another, and ignoring or peacefully challenging those who may come to our campus with messages of hate. While this can lead to difficult conversations and disagreements, these are actions that help us move through the tension.

As faculty and students, we can take our lessons of equity and social justice and be just as visible. We can have demonstrations saying that we support others, we can continue activities that support the diversity of others, and we can make displays for peace.  There is no reason people who promote hate should have the entire spotlight.

As administration, we are committed to continued engagement in a collaborative process of developing a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan that will begin execution next year. We are close to making a determination about how that process will proceed and there is more to come, soon.

For those who have been working and waiting, in some cases for generations, to bring about change, our pace is too slow. For those who see the “new world view” as a threat to the status quo, we are moving too quickly. We are trying to find the right pace and are learning in real time how difficult it is to move through conflict with grace. We all have to work to strike the right balance.

I hope that we will stand united as we press forward toward meaningful social change.

Friday Letter, 5-11-18

It’s the season for email fatigue. As we bring this academic year to a conclusion, I know that information will be abundant. I sent more than my usual allotment of special letters this week. Hopefully you didn’t miss them. You should have received:

  • The College Employee Satisfaction Survey (CESS) executive summary.
  • The Proclamation about Kody’s Birthday.
  • The 2018-19 budget recommendations.
  • The Green Chair PowerPoint.

Stay tuned for more information about our ceremonies, summer work efforts, and wrapping-up activities.

Communication and information-sharing is often one of our biggest challenges. In fact, it was cited a number of times in the CESS comments.  We are taking a closer look at those comments and will hopefully be improving some of our systems based on your feedback.  For example, several of you indicated a desire for more staff-faculty interaction so that employee units feel informed and connected with one another.  Please let me know if you have any ideas. We will try to meet that goal for next year.

Another important comment on the CESS was that these Friday Letters should acknowledge all forms of good work. To do so, I would much appreciate an occasional email from you helping me be more aware of endeavors and accomplishments that might not make their way to my desk.  It’s a team effort to acknowledge and appreciate.

You can see that I intermixed some moments of levity along with the serious nature of our work. Perspective is always important.  We should enjoy being at work and interacting with our colleagues.  It’s fundamental to a positive and productive work environment.  The All Employee Celebration will be one of those positive moments (it always is), so I hope you will join us in Mobius on June 6 at 3:00.  At this celebration we honor years of service, retirements, and tenure.  We also give out service awards managed by the Foundation.

In light of the levity which is important to our work, I encourage you to find 10 minutes to watch this TED talk. I showed it to the Classified Assembly yesterday and it was a good time.  It also led us to acknowledge and appreciate the work of our Information Services department for helping keep us on track.

Have a great weekend.

 

Friday Letter, 5-4-18

We often speak of diversity, equity and inclusion at Cascadia. We discuss it at meetings, create and engage in professional development opportunities devoted to this work, and pursue initiatives to help address needs within our community. While such efforts have been a thread throughout my career, there was one particular moment that made it clear to me that we needed to start taking bolder steps.

Four years ago, I was sitting in a green Adirondack chair out by the maple tree in our patch of ecoturf. It was a warm, sunny morning and I watched our early students walk to class.  What I noticed in particular was the diversity of the students who came to us.  In that moment, it reinforced for me the notion that we needed to understand their stories – as well as the stories of our faculty and staff — if we were going to be effective educators. For me, the Green Chair took on symbolism to represent awareness and intention. I asked employees to take pictures of themselves in the chair and we showed those at Convocation.

The Green Chair had a life span of a year or so before it was lost to the ecoturf. But the symbolism of the Green Chair has remained strong with several people.  One of those people is Marion Heard, who decided that we needed to bring it back as a reminder of the diverse richness of our community.  Marion donated funds to build a new chair and the grounds crew accepted the challenge, recognizing the importance of symbols and actions. Using Marion’s donation, Tyson and his crew rebuilt and painted Green Chair 2.0.  It is inscribed with a quote Marion chose from Maya Angelou:

You may not think you can reach it.

Climb anyway.

You may not think you’ll be heard.

Speak anyway.

You may not think you can change things.

Try anyway.

Green Chair 2.0 rejoins our campus at noon today. I invite you to join me at the maple tree for a few moments at 12:00 to sit in the chair, acknowledge its significance, and enjoy the afternoon sun.

The commitment to this work is evident both on campus and off. This week, Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings and Captain Mike Johnson joined the Pluralism committee to talk about officer training regarding bias, hate speech and protests. Here is how Becky Riopel summarized the visit.

We learned that extensive training is offered to Bothell Police Officers regarding implicit bias (attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner).  Over the last 5 years, training has continued to grow and become more comprehensive, including an annual mandatory test about bias (BPD has a 100% pass rate).  In addition, about half of the officers have completed an 8 hour course on justice-based policing, with a plan for all officers to complete it.

On May 9th they will be hosting a new course on perception and bias, designed with a curriculum planner.  This course will also be offered to UWB/CC Campus Safety officers.

Chief Cummings shares a philosophy will all her officers to LEED in every situation: Listen to what people are saying, Explain what they (the officers) are doing, and treat everyone with Equity & Dignity.

When asked about how the Bothell Police Department works with ICE agents, they were quick to point out that unless a criminal warrant is involved, BPD does not work with ICE.  They do not want to have a community where someone feels they can’t be protected because they are afraid of their immigration status.  They do not enforce civil detainment requests.

Regarding free speech, hate speech or protests, their concern is ensuring the right to free speech in a safe manner.  If there is an event on campus, college/university administrators set the tone and are in charge until things become unsafe.  If the environment becomes unsafe, officers want to be supportive and handle the interaction respectfully.  When there is a sign, letter, or email on campus with hate speech, BPD will provide resources and do a full investigation.  Then, an incident is referred to a prosecutor to determine if it could be disruptive or become a viable threat.  They also shared how they prepare for potential local/national threats or incidents.

Thank you to Chief Cummings and Captain Johnson for their visit.

As we jump into May, the season of celebration and gatherings begins. Please pay special attention to the calendar and dates for the Trustees vote on tenure, the Honors and Leadership Reception, the All Employee Celebration, and Commencement.  In addition, there are a number of forums scheduled that would benefit from your input.

  • Monday, May 14 and Thursday, May 24 from 12:00-1:00 pm faculty are invited to join me in the President’s Conference Room to review my research regarding other revenue sources for the college. There will be additional forums during the summer for staff.
  • Monday, May 21 from 2:30-4:30 in Mobius Hall everyone is invited to attend a Sound Transit forum about the 522 Bus Rapid Transit project. ST recognizes our campus as a major stakeholder in this project and is interested in collecting feedback from students, faculty, and staff.

And don’t forget that next Friday is our non-instructional day.  The executive team will have breakfast for you from 8:30-9:30 in Mobius.  From there you will be spending the day with your teams/disciplines.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter. 4-27-18

Hello from the Palm Springs of Washington: Yakima. At least that’s what everyone here is calling it.  This is my second visit to Yakima in 8 years for WACTC and the city has done a lot to make its main street more tourist friendly and to improve infrastructure since I was here last.

Closing the Loop last week was great. I was happy to see the various data reports and how engaged everyone was.  Thanks to Glenn and all of the presenters for making that data available and thank YOU for the input.  I realized just how much information is out there and how difficult it is to share.

In light of that, I wanted to share this week a few pieces of information about the Foundation. Over the course of several years, we have received program specific donations.  The Foundation Board decided to release that money and several specific projects received donated funds.  The college’s art magazine (Yours Truly), the wetlands, study abroad scholarships, and professional development support for Associate Faculty all received money to help support their efforts.  And, the Foundation will be awarding 65 scholarships this year, each worth $1500 on average.  This is the most we have ever awarded.  Although we are not out there doing flashy breakfasts or auctions, the staff is working diligently behind the scenes to continue increasing our resources.  Thanks to Mark and Anne.

I also want to give a shout out to Sara for her work last week with Young Women Empowered. This career day brought together community members in Mobius to learn about exciting career tracks and professions for women. The helicopter was included.  (Check out the picture.)  Doug and International Programs also sponsored an Ohanami cheery blossom “welcoming of spring” event.  (Check out the crowd.)  Congrats on two successful programs.

The Budget Council has finished its work and made recommendations to the executive team as to a prioritization. As soon as we are a few steps farther along with faculty bargaining, we will be able to release the list of funded items.  I hope to have that ready for next Thursday’s budget meeting (3:30) where all campus employees can find out what was funded.  Check Outlook for the location.

This is your last chance to show interest in the Bowling League. If you need access to the survey, please contact Erin Blakeney or myself and we’ll send it to you.  We will be making decisions next week about times and dates based on everyone’s responses.

Don’t forget that Bothell’s Main Street opens officially tomorrow at noon. The Ribbon Cutting is at 12:30.  Let’s hope for good weather.  I’ll see you there.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 4-20-18

Finally Spring

Campus is blooming, branches are reaching outwards, and buds are blossoming. It’s the time of year when nature shows its full promise. Similarly, this past week shows Cascadia’s full promise by illustrating the extent to which we engage across the institution and across the community to continually improve the college experience we offer.

Higher Education and Industry

Last Friday’s Biotech Summit went really well. You may have seen a number of people in Mobius Hall talking about degrees, pathways, and workforce needs.  Fourteen industry representatives and 7 institutions of higher education gathered all day to determine how to meet the growing demand for workers.  Our next step is to take that information and turn it into a gap analysis with solutions.  Thanks to the Cascadia team who attended the program and to Rosemary for her help in organizing the data.

Full-Time & Associate Faculty and UW Librarians

Last Friday also saw a gathering of faculty and library staff for something known as Critical Moments. As I understand it, Critical Moments is a curricular model designed to help students develop empathy by using case studies written by faculty and staff based on interviews conducted with actual students  about their experiences of marginalization and adaptation in the college setting.  Presenters were brought in to explain the project and how it might be an effective tool at Cascadia.  I appreciate the on-going work of the faculty who continue to think about how the classroom environment is crucial to our goal of an inclusive campus.

Board of Trustees

The Trustees met Wednesday. They were very engaged as we talked about things like emergency management and fees.  They voted to eliminate one fee and reduce another, helping students every way they can.  Next month, I’d like to invite you to their meeting on May 16 (4:00pm) as they vote to grant tenure for our 5 candidates.

Employees

Thanks to everyone who participated in yesterday’s Closing the Loop. This is an important part of our data review cycle and is expected by our accreditation agency.  I look forward to reading the recommendations on how we can improve our systems.  This information will be used to advance our strategic plan initiatives and hopefully in our working helping students succeed.

Students

Students in the BASSP program as well as other classes sponsored Earth Day events yesterday. The actual day is this Sunday and our students programmed a lot of great activities.  Hopefully the students at UWB learned a lot…Cascadia students had the day off to allow us to do our Closing the Loop.  It’s one of those unfortunate circumstances where the stars didn’t completely align.  With that said, I appreciate the efforts to keep us aware of the environment and our role in sustainability.

I will be out much of next week at a WACTC meeting in Yakima. Yay for Yakima.  At the end of next week, on Saturday April 28 at 11am, the City of Bothell will hold a ribbon cutting and street fair for the re-opening of Main Street in downtown Bothell.  This section of road has undergone a major remodel  and is now ready to be the old town core of the city.  I hope to see you there.

Have a great weekend.

 

Friday Letter, 4-13-18

The institution is in motion. That’s how I think of this week.  It seems that every person and every department is working diligently to keep our operations humming along.  In addition to the daily work, I know there are special projects underway as well.

In the HR domain, we are processing the employee satisfaction data and will have that ready for review by the Navigators in a couple weeks.

In the Instructional realm, we are hosting today the biotech summit that I reported on last week. Over 60 folks will be talking about academic pathways and workforce needs today in Mobius.

In College Relations, scholarship interview teams have been meeting with students this week and making decisions on awards.

Finance just recently completed its second audit in 8 months with flying colors. Congratulations to Sharon and her team.

Both the Pluralism Committee and the Navigators are seeking your input on future equity & inclusion initiatives. Be sure to seek out a member of one of those groups to add your voice as we discuss possible ways to deepen our commitment.  I am continuing to collect perspectives on our next steps from stakeholders both on and off campus.  I will also be engaging the Trustees on this topic over the next couple months.

The budget council is considering new funding requests. We will only be able to fund a small fraction of them, which is always tough.

Everyone should be deciding if they want to go bowling. Please fill out the survey posted this week if you have interest.

And finally, I want to leave you with a phrase that I have incorporated into my daily vocabulary: relentless incrementalism. We have so many initiatives going on, so many special projects.  We must tirelessly pursue their advancement, but I recognize that we may only be able to make incremental progress on some.  It doesn’t mean we give up.  In my 8 years at Cascadia, I have watched how we’ve come together to make progress, though it often happens at a painstakingly slow pace due to resources or capacity.  We will continue to make progress so long as we pursue tasks relentlessly.  And while doing so, we must take time to appreciate our surroundings, our students, each other, and the joys that we find in life every day.

Have a great weekend.