Friday Letter, 10-20-17

I am always looking for the reminders of why I like working at Cascadia. Often, students’ stories inspire me.  I am also motivated by the successes of our faculty and staff.  I get particularly excited by new collaborations with UWB and our community partners.

Last week we hosted a conference for folks in the international student realm and one of our former employees, Chris Thomas, was in attendance. He sent me this letter after the conference.

Hi Eric –

I attended the AWISA conference at Cascadia this morning.  It was the first time I had been back since I left nearly 4 years ago, and frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of how it would feel being back on campus.

A lot has certainly changed!  New buildings, new staff, etc.   But as I walked across campus, it felt exactly the same as it did 4 years ago – the same community feel, the same commitment to sustainability, the same focus on students – and I realized that the emotion I was feeling was gratitude.  I was thankful to see that while time has passed and much has changed, Cascadia has stayed true to its values.  I was thankful to see the International Programs lounge area vibrantly decorated and full of international students interacting with one another.  And I was thankful for all the good memories and opportunities I have taken with me from my time there.  I think Cascadia will always have a special place in my heart and it makes me really happy to see it doing so well.

My job as President allows me to leave campus, visit other campuses or Olympia, and then return. The feelings expressed by Chris are ones I feel every time I pull back onto campus.  Sometimes seeing what else is out there allows one to appreciate what is at home.  And I, like Chris, certainly appreciate being at Cascadia.  Thanks to Chris for sharing his thoughts.

One of this week’s “big events” was our monthly Board of Trustees meeting. A lot was accomplished, including the Board’s unanimous nomination of a student for the state-wide Transforming Lives award. We saw this student’s story at Convocation; LaShanta Sealy will compete in January against 33 other students for one of five scholarships.  Send positive thoughts to the awarding committee in Olympia!

If you keep up with the Board agenda or minutes, you might also know that we received a generous donation from one of our long-time donors who passed away last year. In recognition of the donor’s generosity, the Board is considering naming our Learning Center after this donor.  Here is an excerpt from the Board packet:

Shortly after marrying in 1949, John and Margaret Bock moved to the Totem Lake area. John was a salesman and Margaret a homemaker. In the late 1960’s when the extension of Interstate 405 was slated to run through their property, they sold their home and moved east beyond Redmond.

Before John’s death some twenty years ago, the Bocks talked frequently of sharing their good fortune with a student or students seeking a college education. Ms. Bock made a commitment to honor that vision.  Although the Bocks did not have children of their own, Ms. Bock decided to establish an endowed scholarship to help Cascadia students reach their dreams.  The endowment supports students who demonstrate academic success and are pursuing a degree in the sciences, math, or economics.  The endowment has funded multiple scholarships to date.

Ms. Bock established the endowment in 2007 with a gift of $107,000; the first awards were distributed in 2008. Over the last 10 years, Ms. Bock continued to make generous donations.  Upon her death last year, a portion of her estate was entrusted to Cascadia.  Creating the endowment, especially one of such significant size, has and will fund dozens of student scholarships each year for generations.

In honor of the Bock’s generosity, the college’s executive team and the Foundation Board recommend to the Trustees that, at the November Board meeting, the college name the institution’s learning center (currently located in CC2) as the John & Margaret Bock Learning Center, or simply the Bock Center.

The Bock’s desire to help students learn and achieve their goals is best represented by naming the learning center facility after them. The learning center continues to grow as a vital resource to students’ success with quality professional staff, tutors, and services.  It is an integral facility for Cascadia and will continue to grow and expand in importance as the college itself grows. 

As I said, I am inspired by our employees, our students, our community partners, and all that we do at Cascadia.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 10-13-17

The week has been routine.  I hope yours has been too.

The Navigators met on Monday for our first meeting of the academic year.  I updated them on parking, budget, and the master plan.  No new issues were brought up, so I encourage you to remember that the Navigators represent each campus constituency.  If you have a concern, chat with them and they will help try to resolve the problem or bring it to my attention if needed.  You can find your navigators here.

The Chamber of Commerce endorsed the Master Plan this week.  There is a public hearing next Tuesday when the City Council will hear comments on the plan.  While not everyone will be 100% happy with the outcome, we think is contains a fair amount of compromise and future thinking.  The UW Board of Regents met yesterday and gave their preliminary approval to the plan.  I’m happy about our partners, especially Kelly Snyder and Ruth Johnston at UWB.  They’ve been good stewards of this process and have kept Cascadia’s needs as a priority.  Our Board will have an in depth study session next week on the plan.

I met with state legislators at Google in Kirkland this week.  They affirm what we heard at WACTC:  there are a lot of needs during this legislative session and they are not sure how things will play out.  It reminds me that I need to stay in front of them, keep them informed of our needs, and constantly advocate for Cascadia and the CTC system.  I expect to be in Olympia regularly this winter.

Coffees for Three continue.  I have 27 more employees on the list that I still need to meet with.  Once we have finished with those meetings, I’ll put out a call for those folks we missed.  The process has been good and I appreciate the feedback.  Thanks for your patience in the process; I’ve had to postpone a few of them including one this week.  But I promise we’ll circle back.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

Friday Letter, 10-6-17

Hello from Wenatchee. I am here for the monthly presidents’ meeting.  The last time I had a “monthly” meeting was last May, so we have had a lot to catch up on.  Besides our workshop yesterday on “leadership & equity”, I also attended the legislative committee where I am the Vice Chair.  The leg committee worked with the budget committee to make sure we are clear on our five legislative funding priorities for next winter, we reviewed the students’ wishes based on their state-wide organization, and we talked about how we wanted to approach our legislators.  My work on these things will begin almost immediately next week as I look to meet with our local legislators to make sure we are on the same page.  I will share the five priorities after the State Board cleans up the document that outlines them.

I post the Friday Letter in the early morning and in a few minutes I will have a 4 hour “business meeting” with the other presidents where we will review the priorities from each committee and make decisions. More to come on that if there is anything earth-shattering. I can affirm however, that my role as an advocate for the college among the legislators continues to be crucial.  Funding stays limited, expectations get higher, and accomplishing our mission can sometimes be inhibited when the legislators make decisions in the dark.  I expect this year, like last, that I will be in Olympia a lot this winter.

On to other news:

We got a letter this week from Catherine Crain. Allow me to share it with you:

Thanks so much for the ceremony at convocation, the beautiful plaques and especially the memory book!   It means so much to have these notes from faculty and staff that I’ve worked with all these years!     

Could share my thanks with everyone at Cascadia?   I’ll continue to check my Cascadia email account periodically, but if folks want to get hold of me quickly, my comcast account is better.  catherine_crain@comcast.net.  I’m hoping to teach a class winter quarter, so see you then.

And thank YOU Catherine.

I’d also like to share with you a recent accomplishment for Soraya Cardenas. She was a keynote speaker over the summer at the SAI (Science And Information) Intelligent Systems Conference 2017.  You can see her interview here:

http://saiconference.com/Conferences/IntelliSys2017

Finally, you may have heard some rumblings about Title IX (the federal gender equity law) and changes by the federal government. The “opportunity” that is now available to colleges is to opt for a burden of proof in sexual assault cases that is more stringent than guidance given by the Obama administration.  Colleges can opt for either level of proof, and we have opted to remain under the former administration’s guidance until mandated by law to do otherwise.  What also remains the same is our commitment to due process, equity, and thorough investigation in every case that comes before us.  We protect victims and the accused until we have enough information to make informed and good decisions.  For questions about this process, please see Marty in HR or Gordon/Erin in Student Success.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 9-29-17

Hopefully I have been successful at staying out of everyone’s way this week as classes have started. The halls are full, as is the parking lot.  I expect the next few weeks to be tough; hang in there and thanks for all you’re doing to support our students. I care about your safety, well-being, and health.

Safety

We had some rocky moments this week and last. There was a fire (technically a “smoke-related incident”) in the elevator machine room.  Something burned out, and this generated smoke.  By all accounts, the evacuation went well.  Unfortunately, the elevator is not fixable until next week causing classroom location shifts and accessibility issues.  The Deans or HR can help point you in the right direction if you come across a hurdle.  Reach out to us…we’ll try to figure a work-around as best we can.

Another incident involved a man who attempted to rob Stopwatch. He was unarmed and eventually arrested at the bus stop.  The quick thinking of staff in International Programs to hit the panic button helped get Campus Safety and the Bothell PD to respond timely enough to make a difference.  Sometimes though, when we see suspicious behavior, we are not keen on approaching the person in question and don’t know if it warrants the involvement of Campus Safety.  These gray areas happen all too often.

So…some advice: If you see something that doesn’t look quite right, AND you don’t want to approach a person yourself, AND you’re not sure if campus safety should be involved, then you have two options:

  1. Get a manager involved. A Director, Dean, or Executive Staff member is expected (by me) to help handle these types of situations. A second pair of eyes can help assess the situation. During this assessment and before you approach the suspicious individual, the two of you may decide to not approach at all and call campus safety. Either way, we should inquire or call someone who will.
  2. Err on the side of caution and simply call Campus Safety. They will gladly come out, be your second set of eyes and make an assessment.

Health & Awareness

I next want to remind folks that the executive team is continuing to work on compensation issues for non-represented units. Human Resources has begun their evaluations of job descriptions, collecting good comparators for our job classes, and analyzing the part-time hourly pay structure. All of this work will continue over the year and, as we assess and make decisions, we will formulate a standard for our campus. Much like we did with promotions last year, we are squarely working to determine a consistent model for compensation. Thanks for your patience and we’ll communicate more once the work is complete

Well-Being

Lastly, I want to spend a minute talking about hidden disabilities. Some of you may have noticed that in the hallway this week I have not recognized you until we are virtually on top of each other. There is a reason for this.   Starting this week I began wearing my glasses full time. When I was 13, I was prescribed to wear contact lenses due to an astigmatism. This condition is common, but I am at the extreme end of the spectrum. I usually wear my glasses only a few minutes each day before bed. I have only worn my glasses for more than one day once since I was in the 7th grade.   My contacts are rigid so as to hold my eye in a certain shape to see better. When I stop wearing those lenses, my eyes begin to change shape and my eye-sight deteriorates. Over this next week, I will begin having trouble reading and driving, even with my glasses. I have noticed that I am already having trouble recognizing people who are more than a few feet away from me and my peripheral vision is non-existent. Without the technology of contact lenses, I would eventually become legally blind. I am wearing the glasses for four weeks so that the eye surgeon can assess my eyes in their natural state. If all goes well, I will have surgery soon thereafter and be free of contact lenses. The glasses will remain for reading, but otherwise I hope to be good to go.

The vulnerability I have with my eyes has made me a long-time advocate for people with disabilities, hidden or otherwise. My disability reminds to me to be sensitive to others. I share this so as to remind you that many of us on campus may have similar issues. We should never assume. Learning disabilities, chronic pain, eyesight or hearing issues…such challenges can go unnoticed. I would encourage you to contact Catherine Calhoun (our Assistant Director of Disability Support Services) if you have questions, need some guidance, or want to learn more about how to work with students or colleagues with disabilities. As well, I have no problem talking about this issue, so you can ask me too. =)

Thanks for your support, hang in there, and have a great weekend.

.

Friday Letter, 9-22-17

Hello All –

I hope this pre-fall week has been productive with the least amount of stress possible. Thank you all for attending the workshops and Convocation.  Convocation was a bit rushed…and we knew it would be…so thank you for your patience.  We will continue to come back to the priorities of our institution throughout the year and keep you updated on the progress of each of them.

This week I wanted to focus the Friday Letter on our next all-employee gathering, the DIA on November 1.  For those of you new to campus, the DIA is our Day of Inquiry and Assembly…an all-employee professional development day.  Attendance at the morning 9-12 session is expected.

The term “all-employee gathering” is actually misleading for our November date. Not all of our employees will be there this time.  A large cohort will be attending a special all-day training for how to support undocumented students.  This Undocu Ally training sponsored by UW will be held here at Cascadia and still has spots available.  For employees inside and outside of the classroom, I invite you to contact Samantha to talk about your interest in this topic and to join the cohort.

A second cohort of employees will be traveling off-campus to the Faculty and Staff of Color Conference. They too will experience a longer term event designed to support the needs of employees of color.

Those of us NOT attending one of these two opportunities were going to be offered several workshop options on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. As was rightfully pointed out to me this week, these workshops are richer when a diversity of perspectives can be present.  With the Undocu Ally training and FSOCC going on, we automatically lose much of this diversity.  The executive team decided this week that we will postpone the Diversity & Equity DIA until Winter.  Some of you had volunteered to lead sessions during this DIA.  We still want you to do that…but now we need your expertise in the Winter.

In lieu of this topic, those of us remaining will participate in a different experience. On November 1 we invite you to gather at Mobius for breakfast at 8:30am.  At 9:00am, we will reveal a scenario that will test our ability to respond to a crisis.  Only a handful of us know the scenario, but those who attend will be assigned to a work group within our incident command structure.  We will spend two hours responding to the emergency and then one hour debriefing all of the issues that arose for us.  I can tell you that the scenario is timely and affects our ability to successfully operate classes and the campus.  Staff AND faculty will find their areas impacted by the emergency.  However, this is NOT a shooter-on-campus exercise.  We have developed something different.

No preparation is necessary for the DIA. A handful of us have had FEMA and Incident Command training, but the experience will rely on your insights about your departments and our academic mission.  Therefore, all should feel comfortable attending.  We hope that you will walk away with a better understanding of how we will stand up our emergency response system in the event of a crisis.  All of us present will have a role in an actual emergency, so the training is relevant to all who can come.

I’m looking forward to the energy brought by our students next week. I hope you are too.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 9-15-17

The week in review:

Coffees for Three. It’s a great process.  I almost feel I could write the next strategic plan based on your input.  We continue to chug (sip?) our way through them and Vicki is keeping track of who has and has not had the chance to sit down with me.  We schedule about two weeks in advance so if you haven’t been contacted, we’ll get there soon.

The Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce. I am the past chair, but because of absences I facilitated the Board meeting on Tuesday and the luncheon on Wednesday.  The luncheon speaker was a former US Women’s Team Cyclist, one of the best in the world in the 1990’s who now lives in Kirkland.  She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the height of her career and had to give up cycling.  She had a motivating story about setting goals, working your way through adversity, and coming through hard times with new outlooks.

Student Leaders. Yesterday the executive team met with our new student leaders.  As always, they are a group of energetic and optimistic folks.  As you can, I hope you will support their efforts to promote an engaged student body and provide a student voice to our institution.

Convocation. And finally, we put the finishing touches on Convocation this week.  I am looking forward to seeing you all at the potluck from 11:30-1:30. Vicki and I brought the LaCroix…ask me about “natural essences” during the potluck.  And then I look forward to seeing you from 2:00-4:00 for our workshop.  Please be on time.  Start walking there at 1:45.  We have a packed agenda.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 9-8-17

Good morning. Today we return to the true Friday Letter: written and published on a Friday morning.  Typically, I write the letter on Thursday and publish first thing Friday morning.  This week I waited because of all the email traffic I received regarding DACA…Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  This policy, in case you are unfamiliar, gives certain rights to children who were brought to the United States by their parents as minors.  Both parents and minors came to the U.S. as “illegal immigrants”.  However, minors under the DACA policy have been allowed to go “legally” through our school systems, serve in our armed forces, and obtain work permits.  Each person eligible for such rights must reapply for an exception from deportation every two years and only those brought to the US as minors are eligible.

The state of Washington has had a long standing policy of not using residency as a determiner of eligibility for higher education. Residency has only been used as an indicator of which tuition one might pay.  We have welcomed students, undocumented or otherwise, under our mission to transform lives…any life…because we feel that an educated population is the only way to resolve our workforce and social needs and leads to a more self-sustaining and successful future.  As federal policy potentially changes over the next few months (as announced this last Monday), the future of DACA is uncertain.

Locally, we stay true to our pledge of an inclusive and hate-free campus. This pledge, signed jointly by UWB and Cascadia, is the hallmark of our commitment to educate and serve any learner that walks through our doors.  This local commitment does not stop at our doors.  This week I received the following email from Mayor Andy Rheaume of Bothell:

I’m reaching out to let you know my heart is with your DACA students. If you are planning a meeting with students please let us know if it would be helpful for us to attend. When Trump initiated the travel ban, the city expressed that our police have not and will not prioritize arresting or working to deport DACA students or any other law abiding resident/student. I believe we have something in writing on the city website documenting the city’s position in this matter. Let us know if we can be of assistance.

Today at lunch, I will be meeting with all of the Mayors of the cities in our broader eastside community.  I will be asking them to make the same commitment.

On the state level, our higher education system in Washington also sent a letter to President Trump. You can read it here.  Every president of every higher education institution in the state signed it.  While we must abide by any eventual change to the law, institutions of higher education are fighting to allow this group of immigrants to remain a part of the fabric of our community.

But our state is not just committed through its higher education leaders. I would encourage you to google the Dream Act of 2017, a bipartisan resolution to resolve this issue lawfully and in support of young people who qualified for DACA.  Major businesses, many in Congress, and national organizations such as the America Council on Education are supporting this legislation.

The governor (a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives) has unequivocally announced his support for such legislation:

“While we remain relentless in our efforts to keep these young people home, the real solution is for Congress to act immediately to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act. The DREAM Act would provide the lawful reassurance and protections these young people need. The ‘build a wall’ and ‘deport them all’ mentality in the White House is an affront to the principles this nation was founded on and an irresponsible response to our outdated immigration system. Congress must seize this urgent challenge and stand up for Dreamers, now.

“More than 17,000 Dreamers call Washington state home. The cruel action [announced on Monday] by the president threatens the ability of these young men and women — many of whom know of no other place to call home — to pursue the incredible opportunities our nation promised them five years ago.

“Washington state will consider every option possible to challenge the repeal of DACA, including legal action, coordination with other states and any executive action that could help protect Dreamers.” 

Finally, I offer one last resource. The card viewable here gives you an easy way to understand DACA and to help advise students of their rights under that policy.  Please take a moment to save the image or print it out for your office.

Rule of Law is important, certainly. However, when the country’s approach to immigration is flawed or outdated, then exceptions, changes and improvements must be made.  This was the original reason for DACA.  On our campus, when we make a mistake, we defer to what is best for the student.  We do not remove the student, we do not put up walls, we do not ridicule them for being on our campus.  Instead, we work towards a reasonable solution.  At least, that is my expectation for how we approach issues when we find fault with ourselves.

I hope you will encourage Congress to act timely to also find a reasonable solution during the next six month before the window closes on DACA.

Friday Letter, 8-31-17

The Trustees met for their annual summer retreat on Monday. The executive team joined us in the morning to update the board on financial and enrollment issues.  The campus will hear the same information at Convocation in a few weeks.  I don’t often do this, because the Friday Letters are often as much my own platform for communication as it is the eteam’s, but I want to commend the entire executive team.  They are the people I work with the most closely and are my direct reports.  Marty, Meagan, Rosemary, and Terence, with the support of Anne, Kari, Raquel, and Shawn, continue to impress me with their leadership and their desire to support their units.  Every week they represent your goals and work towards making the college better.  Thanks to all of them.  And I would be remiss not to mention Vicki and the great work she has done in supporting me this year.

Tuesday and Wednesday we roughly the same. Coffees for Three and finishing up evaluations of the executive staff.  I have taken roughly 90 people to coffee and have 60 more to go.  At the end of this process I will organize all the comments and provide them to the executive team.  Thank you for helping to shape the future of the college by providing me your insights.

Lastly, I will be going down today to Clover Park Technical College. Every year the New Faculty Institute is held there.  Two of our four new faculty have attended and I will have lunch with them today.  Like the Coffees for Three, getting to know our employees and listening to why they joined Cascadia is important to my management philosophy.

I have come to believe that most of us strive to serve this institution and our students without ego, in a team fashion, and because we believe in the power of education. We also work to resolve conflict and learn from mistakes in a healthy fashion.  That’s the sign of a positive campus climate.  I hope you enjoy Labor Day and the three day weekend.

Have a great one.

Friday (Thursday)Letter, 8-24-17

As soon as the smoke clears, the sun vanishes. What is up with our weather??  Is it global warming?  To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the eclipse on Monday.  I don’t think I have the background or appreciation for celestial events like others have.  That being said, I know others were enthralled and I’m glad that Seattle was close enough to make it “an experience”.

After the eclipse, one of our instructors (Tanya Tavenner) received this note:

Hi Tanya,

My name is Nick, I took two of your classes about 4 years ago. I recently flew to Tennessee to view the solar eclipse which made me think of my astronomy classes. I just wanted to thank you for being an amazing and passionate person who taught me about some of the most amazing things in the universe. Those were by far the best classes I have ever taken. 

Attached is my picture of the eclipse.

Nick

Now THAT excites me. To hear from a student that one of his instructors inspired him gives me goosebumps.  Congrats Tanya and thanks for sharing the note.  You can see Nick’s picture here:

In addition to the eclipse, the executive team had their summer retreat this week on Wednesday. In complete opposite to the eclipse, we spent the whole day trying to figure out how to be transparent.  The morning was spent organizing the multitude of priorities we’re facing and figuring out how to support employees and students as we work through them.  We will use Convocation in a few weeks to not only give a State of the College update, but to also share our priorities and to hear from you how this work will impact you.

The afternoon of our retreat was spent working through our principles, values, and strategy on employee compensation, with particular regard to the exempt group of employees who are not represented. It is our goal to be consistent, transparent, and predictable with regards to issues of compensation, so we are drafting our thoughts and will publish those soon.

That’s all for this letter. I am off to a couple of Coffee for Threes this morning.  I hope the weekend treats you well.  Have a great one.

Post Script:  Minutes after I posted this…I went to the restroom.  As I came back through the President’s Conference Room, a student was writing a note on the whiteboard.  It read, “Thanks for creating such a wonderful learning environment.”

We scared each other because neither of us expected the other to be in the room.  But what a great way to start the morning and I’m happy I can share that note with all of you.

Friday (Thursday) Letter, 8-17-17

The smoke is gone. We all can see clearly now.  The future is known to us.  So what does the future tell us?

First, it tells us that we have a new Trustee. Our (previously) newest Trustee, Dr. Sabine Thomas, had to relocate out of the area.  We appreciate her efforts during her year with us and we are fortunate to have had a secondary list of candidates at the ready.  After additional vetting, the Trustees and I recommended Mr. Roy Captain to the Governor.  The Governor accepted the nomination and appointed Trustee Captain last month.

Mr. Captain is a respected local leader and real estate agent. He works in communities such as Sammamish, Redmond, Bellevue and Kirkland.  Born in Mumbai, India, he has lived in Oregon, Michigan, Illinois and Virginia, and now calls Redmond his home.  Over the past 25 years, he has been a leader in running global aviation companies in Illinois, helicopter logging in Oregon, real estate investing in Virginia, and extensively volunteering in the Lake Washington School District.  He has served multiple terms as President of the Audubon Elementary School Parent Teacher Student Association and was the Kirkland area Vice President in the Lake Washington School District PTSA.  He is currently the Vice Chair of Redmond’s Planning Commission.

This is the first time we’ve had a Trustee from Redmond, and I appreciate now having a Trustee from every major city in our district.

The future also tells us that the dust has settled on our parking situation. Yes, we have a direction!!  After discussion with the unions, we will implement the Reserved Parking change-over as designed.  You can remind yourself of the details by looking here.  Unfortunately, those discussions took longer than anticipated, so we will implement NEXT SUMMER (Summer 2018).  We do not have the physical capacity to make the change before fall quarter and I do not want to take the garage off-line during the academic year.  So we will have one more year of differential parking rates and reserved parking.

Speaking of rates, those have also been negotiated with the unions. Members of WPEA and CCCFT should speak with their local leadership or Human Resources for your pricing structure.  Exempt staff can refer to the email sent by Tony Guerrero yesterday.  Thanks for your patience as we navigated those issues over the last year.

Finally, the future tells us that we are in a pretty good place with regard to emergency preparedness. Since Tuesday of this week, about a dozen Cascadia staff and a dozen UWB staff have been participating in a region-wide FEMA training.  Today is our actual exercise to practice all we’ve learned.  The exercise will allow us to practice setting up our Emergency Operations Center and how we handle a major event.  Thanks to all the participants from Cascadia: Jodie, Erik, Todd, Erika, Yukari, Meagan, Paul, Noah, Marty, Deann and Raquel.

Have a great weekend.