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.

Friday (Thursday) Letter, 8-10-17

Hello everyone. Thanks for the many greetings upon the return from my vacation.  As you might guess, this Friday Letter is inspired by my vacation in Italy with Dede.

We indeed had a great time. As with any vacation, we needed to find our rhythm as a group of 5 traveling together, especially in the heat of August Italy.  We endured 106 degree days in Rome.  Air conditioning and iced drinks were a premium.  As new and experienced travelers we found our way through.

Highlights for Dede included the general audience with Pope Francis, visits to the home towns of her grandparents, wine and pasta, and (of course) our cooking class. Challenges of the trip included lots of walking, heat, and an apartment in Florence that was 4 flights up with no elevator.  And the most intriguing (dangerous?) part of the trip…we ate dinner next to the head of Anti-Mafia efforts for Italy and his security detail of 6.  They happened to walk into the same restaurant we did.  We made it out alive.

But most importantly, I wanted to focus on the cooking class we took. I ended up taking away some thoughts from our chef that inspired me.

There were 6 in our class plus the chef (making 7 total). We started the day visiting a local market in Florence and learning about our ingredients.  We spent 7 euros to feed 7 people.  That didn’t include the eggs and flour we used.  As we cloaked ourselves in aprons, the Chef said that his philosophy of cooking was to keep his ingredients simple.  Simple and fresh ingredients will make a meal just as good as complicated all-day masterpieces.  He didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.  He wanted to have an inspired meal, but wanted to be able to go out and enjoy life.  To do this, he did the “best with less”.

So how did that translate to our meal?

We made pasta: 2 ingredients. It’s really not that hard.

With half the pasta we made ravioli and filled it with ricotta.

The other half was made into noodles and we made a meat sauce with vegetables. 5 ingredients.

Our third dish was Tiramisu: 5 ingredients.

We also ate battered zucchini flowers and crostini with pesto.

But how was I inspired by this?

“Keep our ingredients simple.” In our work at the college we sometimes think that big, grand, and complex is better.  I learned that the simplest of ingredients (quality teaching; good service) made for the best meal we had in Italy.

“Enjoy life.” This translated into one of my core values…always be balanced. In work, with family, and in this great place we live.  Give your best in the kitchen (have an inspired meal), don’t be a slave to it (don’t get too complicated), bring wine, and help others enjoy the journey.

“The best with less.” By necessity, this is our community college world.  But because we have less, this does not mean we have to jeopardize quality.  We offer a quality experience and I think we serve one of the best meals.  Especially since we only have 7 Euros to spend.  This comes from having a lot of quality chefs at Cascadia.

Thank you to all who made this trip for Dede possible. And thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

Have a great weekend.

Friday (Thursday) Letter, 7-13-17

Friday Letter, 7-13-17

Here’s what I know….

The budget.

While the operating budget was passed by the legislature…which is leading to salary increases for everyone…we still don’t know the total impact on the college’s budget. We don’t think it will be the worst case scenario…but we are still crunching numbers.

The capital budget is a different story however. This has not been passed by the legislature.  I give it a 50-50 chance.  If it is not passed, then we don’t get our loan to build parking this year and all of the community college building projects come to a halt.  It delays the eventual construction of CC4 as well.  This is the first time (ever) that the legislature has failed to pass a capital budget on time.

The big white tent on the Mobius steps.

It was supposed to be a finished project on June 30. As you can see, they are not done.  That’s all I know.

Derby Days.

Many of us helped out last Saturday at the Cascadia booth at Redmond’s Derby Days. Thank you to those who signed up.  My biggest smiles came from watching Kody on the rowing machine at the booth next door and interacting with the kids.

Chamber Open House

About 400 people and 45 vendors showed up for the Bothell Chamber of Commerce’s Open House on campus last week. I got an email from the organizer expressing gratitude “for the incredible service we have received working with Paula for our Open House at Mobius Hall.  She worked hard to ensure that every details was taken care of for our event, and it showed!”  Nice Paula!

Master Teachers.

Congrats to Soraya. She was selected to participate in UW Seattle’s Community College Master Teacher Institute happening today and tomorrow. This year’s institute focuses on Global Human Security.

Changes to Reserved Parking.

This is still being bargained with the WPEA. Until such time as a resolution is reached, we will be staying with the status quo parking arrangement.


I will be in Italy with Dede (and our families) during the next three Thursdays so there will be no Friday Letters. I promise that we will toast you all and send pictures of us in our cooking class.

Have three great weekends.

Friday (Thursday) Letter, 7-6-17

I hope everyone had a safe 4th of July holiday.  It seems like such a short week given that we will close tomorrow and that many of us took last Monday off as well.

I have some shout outs for the day. “Shout outs” are fun for me because I get to not only thank people for their work, but it helps keep everyone informed of what’s going on.

First, thanks to Sara and her continued leadership in College Relations. She once again orchestrated a successful entry into the Bothell 4th of July parade.  She did NOT run over any children with the trailer either.  =)

The parade apparently went well with lots of folks giving love to Cascadia along the way. And our beautiful trailer was a hit.  Thanks to everyone who turned out to march.

Second, thanks to Kim. I’m not sure if you’ve walked the halls, but ALOTTA renovation was done these past few months.  The spaces for Continuing Ed and Trajal (our Japan program) look great.  There are new nooks and crannies everywhere, including the Learning Center, President’s Office, and Kodiak Korner.  Maybe we should have a treasure hunt through the new spaces.  Kim’s work to organize this was tremendous and time-consuming.  Thanks to her for her work.

Third, thanks to the Kodiak Korner staff. Summer session is on its way.  Despite holidays and shortened weeks, they helped students get enrolled with ease (or so I’ve heard).  Summer session started yesterday and the halls are once again bustling.

Fourth, thanks and congrats to Jesus and Sara. THANKS, because they both showed interest in attending the Social Justice and Leadership Institute.  The SJLI is a year-long program hosted by Bellevue College and has competitive entry.  CONGRATS because both of our Cascadia applicants were accepted.  We look forward to the things they will learn which can be applied to Cascadia both in our recruitment program as well as in the classroom.

Next week will be my last letter for a bit…I will be heading on vacation for three weeks. If you have a shout out you would like to see mentioned, please let me know early next week.  While I’m gone, the rest of the executive team will take their turn at writing a Guest Friday Letter.

Lastly, the budget. The operating budget was approved by the legislature.  We ‘think’ we are in a good position, but we still have to sift through all of the implications.  As soon as the SBCTC and our local finance office have reconciled what we think it all means, we will announce the impacts on salaries, benefits, and the college budget.  Thanks for your patience.

Have a great weekend.

Friday (Thursday) Letter, 6-29-17

Good morning. I hope this last day of the week leads to an exciting weekend.  Many of you will surely take off Monday, July 3 so as to make this a 5-day weekend.  Best wishes and be careful if you are traveling or enjoying the sunshine.

I have three pieces of news today. The first two pieces make me do my happy dance.  I’m off campus today, but come by the office next week if you need to see the dance in person.

First, CONGRATULATIONS to Fidely.  Read more below:

Dear Fidley,

Congratulations! You have been awarded the Alan Spence Employee Scholarship. This scholarship is intended to provide financial assistance for eligible employees to pursue a   degree and who have interest in a career as a Washington community or technical college administrator. 

We received several applications for this scholarship, each with their own impressive attributes. You have been selected because your application shows notable personal growth and dedication towards your education. Your colleagues at Cascadia College commend your accomplishments and commitment towards completing your degree.

Again, congratulations! Good luck in your journey in obtaining your degree and I look forward to seeing you at the Summer Conference in August.


Dr. Stephanie Delaney

The CTC Leadership Development Association Scholarship Committee Chair

Fidely was our campus nomination for this scholarship. She competed against other college’s nominees and received one of four state-wide scholarships available!  Well done!

Second, from our staff to our faculty, CONGRATULATIONS to Gail Alexander!  Read more below…

Dear Gail:

I am writing in regard to Cascadia College’s proposal submission to the American Association of Community College’s MentorLinks: Advancing Technological Education (ATE) program.  Thank you very much for submitting the proposal and for your college’s commitment to STEM education.  For your information, AACC has completed the MentorLinks review process and your grant proposal, “From Classroom to Workplace: Illuminating and Supporting Career Opportunities in Environmental Technologies and Sustainable Practices” scored high with our review panel; and we would like to issue your college with an award for the 2017-2019 cohort.    […other details not necessary for the Friday Letter…]

Ellen M. Hause

Program Director, Academic and Student Affairs American Association of Community Colleges

Excellent work by Gail and the entire grant team. We are thrilled by this development and application to the ETSP program.

And third (not totally bad, but doesn’t make me dance either), there have been some governmental updates.  On the travel ban issued by the current presidential administration, the Supreme Court announced the following this week:

The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s travel ban can go into effect unless the visitors have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

So what, exactly, is a “bona fide” relationship? In its decision, the Supreme Court gave the following examples.

“A foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member … clearly has such a relationship … As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the executive order]. The students from the designated countries who have been admitted to the University of Hawaii have such a relationship with an American entity. So too would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.”

This ruling means that there should be no adverse effects on our students.

More locally, the Washington State Legislature has until tomorrow to issue a state budget for the next biennium. Should they fail to do so, the government will technically “shut down”.  However, that does not mean you should stay home next week.  We will operate and pay salaries from reserves during the time of a shut down…if one happens.   Right now they say they are close to finishing.  We will interpret that budget next week to see what it means for us.

So let’s do our happy dance next week together. We’ll all get paid.  And congrats to Fidely and Gail.

Have a great weekend.

Friday (Thursday) Letter, 6-15-17

Welcome to summer!

We now begin our 4-10 work week tradition that will carry us through the summer months.  My calendar says I’ve already filled every free Friday with an adventure.  I’m not sure how that happened.  However, I hope YOU have a summer filled with adventure, relaxation and (hopefully) sunshine.

I want to add my name to those who have extended gratitude for the hard work that is required to pull off graduation.  The Student Recognition Committee with support from all sorts of staff and faculty did a great job at making sure we had another successful commencement.  We had more graduates walk than ever before, we had a bigger crowd than ever before, and we used more cups than ever before.  =)  Thanks for the hard work of everyone who played a role in last Friday’s ceremony.

Congratulations are now officially in order for Dr. Catherine Crain who becomes our fourth faculty member to reach Emeritus status.  The Trustees voted unanimously last night to award Catherine the status of emeritus faculty.  We are happy for Catherine’s new status, for all of her retirement adventures she has planned, and for the fact that she will stay close to Cascadia and continue teaching for us on occasion.

No good deed goes unpunished.  Yes, I’ve said that multiple times this week.  One instance involves the 15 Year Service Wall.  Since its unveiling, we’ve found three misspelled names (how does that happen after a review by three different people, including myself ??) and at least one person who hasn’t served 15 years.  That does beg some explanation, however.  Part-time and full-time status were not considered in the determination of “15 years”.  If your start date began over 15 years ago, and you’ve worked continuously for Cascadia in any capacity since then, your name should be on the wall.  Vicki is coordinating the corrections; talk to her directly if you feel there is an error.

I am entering Summer with optimism.  Our budget is looking better; I hope the legislature doesn’t change that.  We have multiple summer work groups starting; I look forward to seeing the product of their work at the end of the summer. And I get to start Coffees for Three with the staff; bring a hat…we’ll sit outside whenever possible.

Have a great weekend.


Friday Letter, 6-9-17

For those of us on the east side of CC2, we’ve had our blinds shut for most of the week.  There have been multiple tents erected outside in preparation for today’s Commencement Ceremony and the glare from the sun off the tilted canvas is somewhat blinding.  Let’s talk about the tents.

Tent #1:  Was erected to protect us from having to see the on-going construction project happening on the Mobius Stairs.  It looks much like an archaeological dig, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our science faculty have secretly been exploring the catacombs underneath the patio after hours.  During the daylight hours, construction crews are fixing a pesky water leak that is, of course, under 10 tons of concrete.  Please don’t sit in Tent #1 today.

Tent #2: Is an off-set, smaller structure on top of the Mobius Patio.  This is the tent for the stage party at today’s ceremony.  As you’ll see, it doesn’t align well with Tent #3.  It’s off-set due to Tent #1 and we had to install a new set of stairs to allow folks to get up and down from Stage Left.  If you are coming up to Tent #2 today, please use caution.  And for those of us blessed/cursed with a need for symmetry, this is not the year to breathe easy.

Tent #3: Is the Party Tent.  It is where the students, employees, and families will sit this afternoon and is ready for 1000 people.  It is expected to rain today at 4:00 (50% chance).  It has never rained once in the time I’ve been President; this is my 7th Commencement at Cascadia.  While there is always a first time for everything, I’m hoping that the entity that controls the rain has not been upset by the archaeological dig taking place under Tent #1.

With that said, please huddle under dry spaces, still please attend, and please help keep everyone in the joyous spirit that should pervade today.  Umbrellas may be common; let’s work around them.  Attitudes may get a little wet; help us dry them with humor and good will.  Today is about our students, the product of all of our hard work.  Thank you for helping escort them on this journey and while we have a few challenges today, we have taught them how to adapt, learn, and be successful. We, as their teachers & role models, also know how to adapt, learn and be successful…so I’m looking forward to putting that to good use.

Thank you for a good year.

Friday Letter, 6-2-17

I am in route on the way back from Japan.  Partnerships, communication, & trust. Those are the concepts that were an important part of my week in Japan.  And, they are the concepts that help Cascadia thrive.

Meagan, Anthony and I spent this week visiting with our partners at Trajal Hospitality & Tourism College at their campuses in Osaka and Toyko. Both experiences were similar and rewarding.  We spent time at each campus visiting with alumni from the Cascadia English program.  Most of them have returned to Trajal to complete their third and final year before entering the workplace.  One of the students, Toki, has graduated from Trajal and now works for American Express.

These students had in common their desire to improve their English and work in our global community. From internships and opportunities in the Maldives, cruise ships, Saipan, and other places, they all shared with us just how important their ELP instructors were and how fortunate they were to stay with host families and make friends at Cascadia.  At least three of them found significant others.  (I guess that was a bonus for them.)  Meagan and I were also able to witness the strong bond between Anthony and the students.  I want to take a moment to thank Anthony for being our guide, for organizing the trip, and for strongly supporting these students.

We also visited with first year students who will be at Cascadia starting next December. Trajal emphasized to them that Cascadia is challenging.  They wanted to make sure the students were ready for the academic rigor.  And, during our visit at the Tokyo campus, we spent time with the study abroad coordinator and main English teacher.  He is from rural Japan but learned English in London and had an Italian host family.  The worldwide influences on these students, teachers, and campuses were enormous.  And for Cascadia’s sake, I appreciate that we have the program and partnership; it is an important role for Cascadia in our global community.  Some of us may not think of the Trajal students as “Cascadia” students, but in fact they very much think of themselves as Cascadia alumni.  Their entire careers across the globe and with major companies come back to their success in learning English right here in Bothell.

These partnerships are not just overseas. I had the opportunity to chat with both Susan Jeffords (Vice Chancellor at UWB) and Ana Mari Cauce (President of UW) this week.  We discussed our shared desires to make sure our campuses can fully welcome and support our international students.  From UW Bothell’s creation of a new student Diversity Center, their work with faculty and staff to promote pluralism, and our on-going efforts to educate in the wake of micro-aggressions, we share a desire to create the best possible experience and support for all of our students.  I am grateful that we can send our students back to Japan with good memories, and I am grateful that many of our students can transfer next door and experience the same commitment to diversity and pluralism that is at the core of Cascadia and UW.

Last week I shared the story of one of our Japanese students. The take-away for all of us (Susan, Ana Mari, our Trajal teacher, Meagan, and myself) was that our work to create supportive environments never ends.  I know from talking to many of our students who transfer to UWB that last week’s story is not typical of their experiences there; I also know that our partners at UW Bothell (who read the Friday Letter!) took this feedback seriously.  Though Cascadia and UW Bothell have both worked hard to ensure welcoming environments for all students, we know that we can do more.  We must constantly educate our students, faculty, and staff.  We must constantly understand that we all bear responsibility for creating positive learning experiences.  UWB, Cascadia, and Trajal have that in common.  I am happy that we are partners.  I am happy that we can have confidence that our students will thrive when they head back to Japan, or when they head next door.

Friday Letter, 5-24-17

The Friday Letter comes a little early this week. I will be leaving for Japan tomorrow and was not sure of the availability of my internet connection on Friday.  Why am I going to Japan?  We have this relationship with Trajal Hospitality College.  Our ELP Faculty are very familiar with them because each year TJHC sends us 40 students to spend 9 months at Cascadia learning English.  We have graduated two classes so far and our next cohort has already arrived.  As part of our contract, Trajal would like to see the Cascadia leadership visit their campuses in Osaka and Tokyo every other year.  Likewise, they come to visit us every couple of years.

Last time I visited, Mary Acob-Nash and Terence Hsiao went with me. This time, Meagan Walker and Anthony DeVito will be my companions.  Anthony is our staff member who has primary responsibility for the Trajal students and he speaks Japanese.  He will be our guide.  We will spend time talking with the students who will be coming next year as well as visiting with the two classes of alumni.  We hope to gain more insight about how we are doing and how we can maintain our good relationship with Trajal.

I will be back in the office on Monday, June 5. Terence will be acting president until next Wednesday and then will be headed to the President’s meeting in Spokane on my behalf.  Todd Lundberg will be acting president on Thursday and Friday of next week.  If there’s ever a time to get what you need…take advantage of Todd.  =)

LAST Friday, I watched 5 Cascadia students present about their experience with UWB’s BOLD leadership program. All of the BOLD participants (5 from Cascadia and 25ish from UWB) gave presentations on their visits to area companies as they learned about leadership and business.  We are thankful that UWB saves space in this program for Cascadia’s students.  Everyone seems to love the program.  One of the UWB students I talked to transferred to UWB from Cascadia and is from Japan.  She shared with me how she was accepted at Cascadia.  Her words, “I felt that the instructors did really well at incorporating people from different places.”

We are all about Pluralism. I am glad that we now have a robust international program so that our domestic students can understand their role in a global society and marketplace.  And I am glad that we have faculty and staff who are learning everyday how to best serve this population.

Until next week…have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 5-19-17

Today’s Friday Letter focuses mostly on a long-term discussion about the idea of our campus hosting Tent City.

Last Spring, I was presented with a recommendation by a campus task force suggesting that we should bring Tent City to campus for three months as a means of fulfilling our mission around integrated education in a learning-centered environment.  The interactions offered by such an event would create opportunities for us to teach our students how to apply their education to real world issues.  I responded to this recommendation by saying that we were not ready as a campus.

There were several criteria that needed to be met in order for me to feel more comfortable with this opportunity. These criteria included:

  • A report from UW Seattle about their hosting experience. They hosted last winter and I was hoping to better understand how this impacted campus. The leader of the effort at UW Seattle (Sally Clark) came to campus last month and spoke with several of us including our Pluralism Committee, a representative from the original campus Task Force, and a representative from UW Bothell.
  • A conversation with UWB about their willingness to co-sponsor the hosting. There exists an RCW that actually prevents any camping specifically on our campus. In order to get an exception to the RCW, both the Chancellor of UWB and I would have to request this of the Secretary of State. I had a conversation with UWB on Monday of this week about Tent City.
  • An understanding of the impact on human resources and financial resources. Many of you attended last week’s budget meetings and understand the state of the budget. Also, I continue to be concerned about the capacity of our faculty and staff to take on more things. This concern has been validated through my Coffee for Threes.
  • The identification of an appropriate space. This has gotten more complicated over the year as we have been on the hunt for spaces to build our next parking lot.
  • And, finally, a personal belief that our campus was culturally ready to host.

These were the things I wanted to consider before saying “yes.” As of today, I’ve had the opportunity to find the answers and have the conversations. Let’s talk about each of the 5 points (this time in backwards order…):

  • I believe the campus is culturally ready. The work we have done in DIA’s and Cavolines affirms for me that this campus believes strongly in inter-cultural competency and is ready to take on the presence of people who have fewer resources than we do.
  • Finding an appropriate space has become more difficult over the year. The space we identified last year has now been designated as the future site of a parking lot, which we hope to start construction on next year. And, after reviewing the campus map with UWB this week, we could not find another site that would allow for the necessities of Tent City. We work on a hillside; there is not much flat space accessible to water.
  • By having my conversation with UW Seattle, I am aware now of the huge impact on staff and finances. As you know, we may be operating in a deficit situation next year. I cannot approve the hosting because I fully believe that it will have a significant fiscal impact. Add to that, UW Seattle ended up taking their monetary support from their foundation because of criticism over using state funds. Our Foundation is not in the same place.
  • The impact on staff was huge. Over 10 departments needed to be involved, including risk management, safety, facilities, grounds, custodial, human resources, etc. As a state agency, we have requirements to staff and attend to such events. And, the common theme about staffing is that most all of these departments report to UWB. Not only were the departments tasked with the care of Tent City, but UW Seattle had an employee devoting 50% of her time to the facilitation of the experience. After a conversation with UWB, we decided we cannot afford to divert our staff to the support of Tent City at this time. We cannot afford the overtime and, like most of our employees, they already have full jobs.

So, as you can tell, the decision has been made to not host Tent City. UW Bothell has been a great partner with us over the past year and has been very willing to explore the ideas that come through Cascadia. I appreciated the partnership as we discussed this opportunity and had a frank discussion about our resources and capabilities. We are in agreement on both sides: we do not know where to physically locate them and we cannot afford the cash and staff support.

The Pluralism committee is in agreement with this assessment. They have suggested an opportunity however…

If an off-site entity would take on the hosting of Tent City, perhaps we could partner with them to create an academic connection that could lead to our desire for integrated learning. I am of course open to this and will connect with any local groups that decide to host Tent City.

Thanks for your understanding.

Have a great weekend.