Friday Letter, 12-18-15

This is the last Friday Letter of 2015 and I thought I’d wrap up the year by sharing some of the holiday traditions native to the countries represented by the executive team. I have two special announcements at the end of the letter, so read through the unique perspectives on the holidays to get to a couple of gifts that have been offered to Cascadia.

Germany (representing Terence, who is part German and part Chinese): Did you know that on Christmas Day, the first person to find the pickle hidden somewhere on the tree gets an extra present?

Switzerland (representing Eric, who is part Swiss and part UK): Klausjagen is a festival celebrated on December 6 that pre-dates Christmas and is tied to the “chasing of wild spirits”.  Given its popularity (among the people) but unwelcomed status (by the Church) it was banned in the 1700’s until it was “Christianized” and turned into the “Chase for Saint Nicholas” in the late 1800’s.

Italy (representing Dede): Instead of Santa, Italian children await the arrival of Befana (a friendly witch) who leave sweets and toys on January 5.

New Zealand (representing Rosemary): Rather than using a conifer, some in New Zealand use the Pohutukawa tree at Christmas.

Netherlands (representing Gina’s Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry): Children in the Netherlands await the arrival of Sinterklaas on December 6.  He lives in Madrid, Spain and arrives to one of the ports in the Netherlands by boat.

Scotland (representing Meagan): Christmas was banned in Scotland until the 1950’s, so the traditional winter holiday was Hogmanay, an event representing the Scottish New Year on December 31.

China (representing Terence): Many people in China are unfamiliar with Christmas despite the fact that most of the world’s Christmas decorations and plastic trees are made there.  However, a tradition that’s becoming popular on Christmas Eve is the giving of apples. Many stores have apples wrapped up in colored paper for sale. People give apples on Christmas Eve because, in Chinese, Christmas Eve is called ‘Ping An Ye’ (which means quiet or silent night) and the word for apple in Chinese is ‘Ping Guo’ which sounds similar.

And on to the gifts bestowed upon Cascadia.

As we wrap up the year, we were informed of two special events. Cascadia was chosen to host (or co-host) these events and it will certainly be a treat for us all.  The Washington State Supreme Court will be hearing three cases on our campus on Thursday, January 14. About 3-4 times per year, the Supreme Court goes on the road to hear cases in different public settings, complete with bailiff, TVW live broadcast, and all. This visit was arranged through the work of Kelly Snyder at UWB and will occur in the ARC.  The justices will hear two cases in the morning (9:00 am and 10:00 am) and one at 1:30 pm. They will allow some time for questions before they recess for deliberation. Cascadia faculty are welcome to bring classes to hear one, two or all three of the cases. Individuals are also invited to attend.

As well, the Governor has selected Cascadia as the site to hold his Race and Social Justice Conference. The final two locations were narrowed down to us and Microsoft.  Given our commitment to this work, we won out over Microsoft.  The conference occurs April 15 all over Cascadia’s side of the campus.  This is an invite-only event, but we are working with them to provide some access for students and faculty.  As we determine the details, we will let you know what opportunities are available.

Thanks to all of the hard work you’ve completed over the last 11 weeks. I hope your holiday season is filled with your own happy traditions.

Friday Letter, 12-11-15

Friday Letter, 12-11-15

As December rolls in with wet and soggy weather, we are one week closer to the end of the quarter. I hope you’ll take a few minutes on Monday to join the Holiday Hoopla at one of the stations throughout the day.  Our hope is to bring you some cheer, a warm cup of happiness, and treats that will make the last few days more tolerable.

Before I move on to some updates, I’d like to encourage us to be thinking about a certain topic that has garnered national attention. Recently, there has been much rhetoric in the political arena over those citizens of and visitors to our country who identify as Muslim.  Their religion has come under scrutiny, the intentions of their behavior have been questioned, and national attention has caused fear among many.  As we continue to pursue our own efforts with regard to Pluralism, I want to ask the campus community to be extremely mindful of how this attention affects our students.  We want to be supportive and we want to provide a safe environment for our students of all faiths.  I can only imagine the marginalization our Muslim community feels at the moment.  If you witness subtle or overt acts of discrimination or marginalization, I would hope that you would address such behavior or talk to an administrator about what you’ve witnessed.  We are a caring community committed to diversity and cultural richness.  We affirm those values often and I hope you’ll help me convey that to those who grace  our campus.

On to other things.

I have been at Lake Washington Tech since yesterday at the monthly presidents’ meeting. We had Rep. Hans Dunshee as a speaker at last night’s dinner (actually, it was earlier this evening as I am posting this on Thursday at 11am).  He is the new head of the House Operating Budget Committee.  He reports that not much will happen during this legislative session with regard to budget.

Sen. Andy Hill will be speaking with us during our business meeting. He is the head of Ways and Means in the Senate.  Amy Goings (President of LWIT) and I spoke with Sen. Hill earlier this week over coffee to prep him for this morning.  It was nice to have some one-on-one time with one of the most influential budget writers we have in our state government.  He was unaware of some of our budget issues because even the legislature can be overwhelmed with details and not see some of the ripple effects of their actions.  We are not hopeful for any added money in this year’s supplemental budget, but I think we’ll at least be status quo until the next biennium.

Here are a few updates on upcoming issues:

Tent City – The task force around Tent City is preparing their feasibility study for the Trustees. This study has a number of components, but it ultimately will say whether or not we can logistically host this organization.  As a reminder, Cascadia is not pursuing this as a means to “help the homeless”, but rather as an integrated education opportunity.  That part of the plan…making this an educational opportunity…is something being discussed by faculty as part of the study.  Ultimately, the Trustees will make the decision as to whether we proceed based on feasibility, assumed mission fulfillment, public stewardship and other factors.  We expect the report to go to them in January or February.

Foundation – The Trustees will be making a final decision on whether to fund the Foundation at their January meeting. We still accept gifts, encourage employee giving, distribute scholarships and have some income from auxiliary enterprises, but the operation has been running in a maintenance mode.  Thanks to Mark Collins for organizing this department and keeping it together during this time.  If the Trustees opt NOT to fund it through reserves, it will continue in this maintenance mode.  If they opt TO fund it, you will see some activity around the hiring of staff and new fundraising efforts.

DIAs and Cavolines – We keep soliciting and receiving feedback. Thank you.  Whether you find yourself engaged by this process or not, we know that many meaningful conversations have happened because of it that may not have otherwise occurred.  I appreciate your participation and patience as we determine the best methodology for learning about these important topics.

Finally, a small excerpt from an email written to Meagan Walker and me by Jessica Ketchum and John Van Leer after their recent excursion using the collaboratory with their learning community.

I want to thank you both for jumping in and taking a risk by supporting–particularly Meagan–this project. We can’t wait to teach it again, and next time, we’ll be able to integrate the trailer even more (using the storage/writing surfaces/etc).

The pictures provide a few snapshots of our students engaging in embodied writing prompts, rooted in sensory observation. We spent about 1/3 of our time truly focusing on the place and the natural materials around us…thinking through the relationship between perspective and space and the weight and temperature and texture of an object/creature. Students had guides from John to identify the flora and fauna of the beach as well. Then we spent about 1/3 of our time writing from our observations, focusing on metaphors, advocacy, and fragmented language. Our last 1/3 was the oceanography lab that required students to collect water samples and take temperatures.

 Also, while we were in the trailer, we got tons of stares and several questions–the general public in Edmonds were quite interested! Good PR in the future 😉

Thanks to the Navigators and Pluralism & Social Justice Committee for your continued guidance on these issues and other important campus activities.

Have a great weekend.

Eric

Friday Letter, 11-13-15

This article was passed on to me this week.  I thought it would make for a good Friday Letter. I have edited the introduction for the sake of brevity.

November 2015.  By Joshua Kim.

Inside Higher Ed.  Blog U > Technology and Learning

3 Reasons Why Internal Communication At Small Schools Is So Hard

  1. Everyone At A Small School Thinks That They Should Know Everything Before Everyone Else:

We higher ed people do not suffer from a lack of self-regard. We think that we are important, and that we should be “in the know” before any big news is publicly announced. We all see ourselves as experts in how higher education should work, and in how our home institution should behave.

The fact that everyone at a small school sees themselves as essential to the running of the place is not a bad thing. The feeling of a strong sense of mission and responsibility encourages us to do our best work. We are all highly aware that our actions represent and reflect the values and mission of our school.

While good for our community, this sense of ownership and mission makes any communication beyond personal conversations difficult. We already think that we understand and are a big part of the work of our school, so why pay lots of attention to any communications efforts outside of our regular conversations and networks?

  1. Small Schools Run On Relationships:

My sense is that every organization, no matter its size, runs on relationships. My theory is that a relational model of organizational work gets stronger the smaller the organization. At a small school we expect that we will have a voice in decisions, and that we will personally know those colleagues who occupy leadership positions.

It may be that the smaller the school the more time that leaders need to spend on cultivating individual relationships. It will be necessary to build coalitions to achieve any major strategic or policy change. The community will not go along with any change unless a critical mass of people feel that they have an active stake in the result.

  1. Organizational Change Moves at the Speed of Trust:

“Organizational change moves at the speed of trust”. This is a quote that I heard at the EDUCAUSE conference last week – and it has really stuck with me.  Internal campus communications are one method to get the entire community on board for change.  We need to say why we are doing the various initiatives, projects, and investments that we are pushing forward. If your goal is organizational evolution, then the process of change will be regulated by the amount of trust within the community. Trust in the shared values and goals within the community. Trust that those doing the communicating are also listening.

Scaled communications, from all campus e-mails to websites, are not very good at building trust. Trust comes with empathy, which comes from conversation. Trust requires a track record of working together to accomplish shared goals. At a small school, trust needs to be earned one conversation and one interaction at a time.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 11-6-15

I spent the early part of the week in Bellingham at the monthly President’s meeting. Those tend to be exhausting.  Here’s a quick glimpse of how those go:

We meet first for an “academy”. This is 3+ hours of time where we discuss a special topic.  The topic this time around was “Should the CTC system have the authority to teach BS and BA degrees?”  We discussed this at length and formed a task force to research the idea.  I am now Vice Chair of the task force.  Bellevue College is already independently pursuing this authority from the legislature.

We then move into committee meetings. I chair the Capital Committee.  My job is to oversee the state-wide process for selecting new building projects and assuring all of our minor works money is spent.  Cascadia’s project (CC-4) will be among those competing for 3 new building slots.  A total of 10 colleges can compete in this round.

I then move onto the Executive Committee. Since I am chair of Capital, it means I’m a part of Exec and I “get” to go to another meeting.  We then decide on which issues we will handle as a small group or bring to the whole group the next day.

The first day caps off with dinner and speaker. Our dinner this week included Rep Chris Reykdal, who spoke to us about how the House views community colleges.  Basically, there is no money and we have to fight for our share of the pie.

That’s the first day…about 8am to 8pm. The next day is spent at the Business Meeting.  We convene at 8am and adjourn around noon. This week each committee gave a report; there were updates about ctcLink, our legislative agenda, budget, and other areas.  This can tend to be the most tedious part of the two days.

As president, my job is not contained to just campus management and local community affairs. It includes this system-steering responsibility that helps me keep perspective on things outside of Cascadia.  Some of the other presidents were teasing me a bit calling Cascadia a “utopia”.  We have DIAs and Cavolines (things they would like to do), interest-based bargaining that works really well on our campus (it doesn’t on theirs), we don’t have to directly supervise Residence Halls, Athletics, Custodial Services, or Facilities (things which can be challenges), our enrollment is up (theirs is not), and to top it all off…

We have a cornucopia!

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 10-30-15

This was a powerful week for us. Thank you to everyone who attended the DIA.  As the facilitators told us, it was going to push us into an area of discomfort.  Thank you for allowing us to go there and supporting each other as we discussed these very important topics.  I recognize that the afternoon sessions caused us all to become fatigued.  We have taken that into account for the Winter DIA and are processing all of your other feedback as well.  Our next step is to spend an hour with our Cavoline discussing the themes of the DIA.

One of the interesting dynamics that came into play is how leadership (e.g., the President) and others may affect the dynamic of conversation. Thanks to Mari for bringing this up at the DIA.  The executive team is trying to be very sensitive to that role as we participate in the Cavolines.  We want to engage and also learn, yet we don’t want to inhibit honest conversation.  I encourage you to treat these Cavolines as safe places.  Supervisory or leadership power dynamics are to be left at the door during this hour.  Hopefully you will find a comfortable position to negotiate these dynamics and you are encouraged to talk to the facilitators or the executive team if you think this might be a hurdle for you.

To lighten up our week, I will be coming around at noon with our Top Pot donuts. Yes, I have heard that some are disappointed that we only get ¼ of a donut.  They are only giving me 3 dozen…so I’m trying to be fair.  BUT…you are highly encouraged to buy a whole one when they go on sale in the stores.  I’ll let you know when that happens.

We received the following information from our colleagues at North Seattle College and I wanted to pass it on given that we have such close connections with North.  In the aftermath of the tragic bus accident, the Seattle College District has received an outpouring of support and questions from people about how they can help.  The district has established a fund to provide direct assistance to students, staff and families affected by the accident.  It is available here: https://www.razoo.com/story/Bus-Accident-Support

Yesterday I spent some time in another heavy conversation. The YMCA brought together almost 300 people to talk about issues affecting youth.  Half of these participants were in the 9th through 12th grades.  We sat at tables with four students and four adults from various walks of life and discussed the issues affecting high schoolers.  It was a great discussion and the Y did a fantastic job of facilitating the conversation.

The take-aways from this conversation included:

  • We need to help teenagers form strong mentoring relationships with all kinds of adult role models;
  • Bullying and safety is on the minds of teens;
  • Stresses about life, including college choices, are significant.

As we work with our Running Start population as well as our first year (graduated from HS) students, I encourage you to think about these themes and how important it is that we remain a “high touch” college that can be mindful of a student’s experience.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 10-23-16

Creativity…a phenomenon whereby something new and/or something valuable is formed. We use creativity to find our way out of problems, to venture into new domains, and to create wonderful things.  And, at Cascadia, creativity seems to be prevalent everywhere we look.

Take a look at the Cornucopia or the ARC. These are projects which have added so much character to the campus.  The creativity of all involved in those projects has manifested itself in very enduring ways.

Take a look at a new feature on the Integrate It blog. Courtney Putnam’s Yours Truly class is writing and posting articles to the site this quarter under the heading “Everyday Creative.”

Here is the link: https://cascadiaupdates.wordpress.com/everyday-creative/

and if you scroll to the bottom, you can see there are two entries so far, “Beautiful Creations” and “Perspective.”

I delivered modeling clay to four departments this week…the Math/Writing Center, International Programs, The Center for Culture, Community and Inclusion, and the Veteran’s Resource Center. Below are the creations that came from these four departments.  Congrats to all of them.  Each department has 2 pizzas coming their way soon.  Thanks for participating.

VC ClayC4CCI ClayIP ClayMWC CLay

Next Friday is Halloween and I’m trying to be somewhat creative with my costume while using my shaved head as a cornerstone to the outfit. I’ll be delivering Top Pot Cascadia Donuts next Friday as well.  Just a token creative moment.

Thanks to the efforts of Dianne Fruit and The Center, Los Días de los Muertos (Days of the Dead, a holiday honoring the dead celebrated in much of the Spanish-speaking world) was a part of our week with several of Dianne’s students creating nearly 170 sugar skulls that were available for decoration. Creativity at its peak.

Over and over we see the results of our creative work and one of the things I enjoy most is working in an environment where creativity is valued. These few examples are just ones that came across my desk this week in some form.  I know there are dozens of other examples and I’m happy to highlight them along the way if you give me a heads up.

Have a great (and creative) weekend.

Friday Letter, 10-16-15

Let’s start off with the most exciting news of the week! I entered a competition with Top Pot donuts to have them make a donut with our school colors.  Low and behold, I won!!  During one week in November, the Redmond branch will feature our donut and proudly display a Cascadia banner.  As well, I will get donuts to deliver at Cascadia.  I’m planning to do a “walk-around” on Friday, October 30 to show off my Halloween costume AND deliver a Cascadia donut to those employees I come across.  I only get 36 donuts for campus, so you may only be able to have a ¼ donut…but who needs the calories anyway, right?  Yay for us.  We now have a donut in our honor.

Onto other news…the Navigators met for the first time this year on Monday. It was good to have all of the representatives around the table.  We began discussions on some of the feedback we received last spring (e.g., the Faculty Leadership survey and the College Employee Satisfaction Survey).  As well, we talked about several of the upcoming topics that will be important for campus, including safety officers, the Foundation, and Tent City.  These items ultimately will be discussed by the Trustees, but the Navigators will act in an advisory capacity as we develop information on these topics.  I’d like to encourage you to connect with your Navigator each time the monthly email reminder comes out.

I spent some time with the Founding Faculty this week learning about the differences between the Cascadia of 2000 and the Cascadia of 2015. My goal was to determine how I can help steer the college to become the Cascadia of 2030.  While we all are a part of that journey, the historical perspective on governance and college values is important.  Their suggestions about the role of administration, Faculty Assembly, and college effectiveness will be considered as we continue making decisions about future paths.  The meeting was so engaging that I want to start replicating the opportunity with other small groups of employees over the next few quarters.  Look out for an invitation!

Speaking of small groups, the Classified Assembly and I had our quarterly Ted Talk last week. The topic was about “duality” and helped us have a great conversation about standing up for our personal values while also supporting pluralism/duality.  Thanks to all of the classified staff who attended the meeting and participated.  I get a lot of joy out of those meetings.

Last night was spent with yet another small group, but not ones with whom we often interact. The Masons Lodge set up a scholarship endowment with us and Mark Collins and I (along with two Foundation Board members) attended a dinner where that gift was received.  The Masons are very invested in the community and youth welfare.  We’re happy to be the stewards of their money and hope that it helps additional students to succeed at Cascadia.

Our next Day for Inquiry and Assembly (DIA) is on Tuesday October 27 from 9am-4pm. As a reminder, this is a non-instructional day. Doors open at 8:30am and light refreshments will be available at that time. The program begins promptly at 9am and your participation through 4pm is expected. The topic of the day is diversity and inclusion and will be guided by Caprice Hollins and Ilsa Govan of Cultures Connecting. They look forward to engaging you in learning and also several interactive and experiential activities. A one-hour lunch break will begin sometime around Noon or 12:30pm; we will be providing subway sandwiches, chips, and fruit for lunch! Coffee will be available all day but if you want another beverage, please bring a couple dollars for the vending machine or your own. You have each received an Outlook invitation from Samantha Brown that will show on your calendar. Your RSVP by October 21 is key to ensuring enough coffee, food, chairs, and materials for all. If you do not see your invitation, email Samantha (sbrown@cascadia.edu) and she will send it to you. I look forward to seeing you there and to joining you on this important journey of intercultural competence development.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 10-9-15

Hello! Four topics today.

ONE. While some of you chose Pez (sans dispenser) last week, and some of you chose Play-Doh, others received a different green bucket item. As it turns out, I ran out of Play-Doh due to its popularity so I had four packs of modeling clay in reserve. I distributed one pack each to the Veteran’s Center, the Center for CC&I, the International Programs Office, and the Math/Writing Center. I asked each group to model me something using their collective talents. As of today, I have received the Vet’s Centers results. Check it out here.

I’d like to challenge the other three offices to compete. I’ll throw in a pizza for the winning department. John Calvin, our Vets Navigator, reported that it was fun and “in light of the events at North Seattle, a bit therapeutic.” Thanks John for producing some awesome clay figures and for helping our Vets find their way at Cascadia.

TWO. By clicking this link, you will also see that we got featured in 425 Business Magazine this month. I met the editor of the magazine at a Kirkland Business Roundtable event many months ago. They have continued to be intrigued by Cascadia and opted to do a small feature on us. This is a good example of what I hope to accomplish by being in the community; we become known as a resource and via these connections we can promote Cascadia.

THREE. What makes us special are examples like the following.

Dave Dorratcague recently wrote:

Earlier this week, I mentioned how thankful I was for Laura Hedal and our Help Desk in helping my ESL Level 2 & 3, newly flipped and hybrid, “Project I-DEA” (Integrated Digital English Acceleration) class get off to a smooth, successful start.  Their help with this Gates grant-funded project started months ago when we needed to order nearly three-dozen laptops and Verizon mifi/jetpacks, the latter of which are essentially a personal, portable wifi hotspot for their laptops.  I had heard some grim tales of other schools in earlier phases of Project I-DEA not having their laptops for their students on day one, which is absolutely crucial.  Laura’s willingness to listen, communicate and accommodate went above and beyond last spring and summer quarter in preparing for Project I-DEA.  Before the quarter began, each laptop was imaged, tested, synced with a jetpack, and then bundled into a carrying case with a power supply, mouse, mic-enabled headset, the aforementioned jetpack, laminated instruction pages and a USB Flash drive. 

[Insert 3 more paragraphs edited out by Eric for brevity.]

“Help” appears in this message a lot.  I have a hard time finding other synonyms because “help” is exactly what they have given, be it proactive in planning for Project I-DEA, or in responding to students – and an instructor – in need.  Laura and her team have truly impressed me and my students, and I am more thankful than ever for their work.

What strikes me about this message is not only the outstanding work by Laura and crew, but the unassuming manner in which Dave relays that we have a Gates grant-funded project which assigns laptops to his students. What?!?! I vaguely recall hearing or reading about this in one of my updates, so the fault in not recognizing this before falls on me. BUT, the importance of this, in conjunction with Laura helping to make this happen, is now more clear. Dave…a shout out to you too because this is exactly the type of innovation, problem-solving, and high touch that makes Cascadia valuable to our students.

Congratulations to both sides of this equation.

FOUR. Safety and Security.

Behind the scenes, the administration is continuing to think about how to provide the safest campus possible. We are training for multiple scenarios, we are asking the UW police force and the Bothell PD to be a bit more visible, we are upgrading communication systems and equipment, and we are in discussions with UWB about the future of our safety office. One of the important questions we’ll answer in the next few months is: Should we have commissioned officers (i.e., an actual police force) staff our safety office? Both UW and Cascadia have task forces comprised of various campus employees who are seeking answers and providing recommendations to leadership. Terence is chairing our Task Force. There are multiple models along a continuum, so we will look at all options.

Until that time, please know that Bothell PD can have 10 officers on campus within 2-5 minutes of an incident; 40 officers within 10 minutes. They are prepared to the serve the campus. Both Bothell PD and the UWPD are advising us on prudent next steps and I will keep you informed as we make decisions.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter 10-2-15

It’s been a week. Classes are full as is the parking lot. There were no major campus issues that made their way to my office, so that’s a good sign. And as I distributed over 120 pieces of Playdoh (or Pez) this week, everyone seemed to be smiles. If you didn’t get a visit from the green bucket, it’s probably because I missed seeing you in your office this last Tuesday and Wednesday when I did my walk-arounds. I try to stay out of everyone’s way this first week, so my visits were quick.

As I wrote in the Thursday Special Letter earlier this evening, the events of the last few days have weighed on me But I also want tackle another issues and I may get a little philosophical for the remainder of the letter. Please bear with me.

One of our on-going challenges at Cascadia is to figure out how to increase capacity in what already seems like a full facility. Everyone seems to want to be in a class from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Both Terence and Rosemary are leading groups to figure out schedule-shifting opportunities and space demands It’s a tricky equation and it would be nice if some of our students were night owls. But, they aren’t, so we’re working on ideas.

As we move into fall there is always a large list of “things to do”. It seems like we push and push to do more and more. It is not generally the intent to “do more”, but to “do better”. I’ve always been an advocate for balance and I want to remind everyone of that. However, when we see programmatic holes, under-served students, or data that indicate we could do something better, it does inspire me to think about our Strategic Plan and how to resolve those issues. It’s a never-ending process, so we have to pace ourselves and try to tackle a few issues every year. This also means that some issues may go unresolved for years. While not ideal, it’s dictated by our resources, both human and financial.

As we try to schedule-shift, it opens a whole new box of concerns. For example, the enrollment timelines for Running Start students, International students, and Domestic High School graduates all differ. Keeping classroom rosters balanced and maintaining ideal schedules for all students becomes an advising nightmare, especially as we get closer to the first week. Our advising staff and our class schedulers think about this all the time, but solutions are complicated and difficult to implement given the different regulations for each of the above groups.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) we live in a world where ‘outcomes’ now drive process. It used to be that we could teach for the sake of learning. Now we teach for the sake of meeting certain expectations, outcomes, career paths, goals, assessment, directives…you name it, we teach for it. As well, we have to have sufficient support mechanisms to do it better than our competitors, because competitive market places are another driver.

I would be interested to understand more about how our reasons for teaching have evolved since the time of Socrates and Plato. I don’t think we sit back and enjoy the process as much as we used to. I know that the expectations of the community college system are immense and we may put more pressure on ourselves because of our size and relationship with UW. Whatever the reasons, let’s try to remember the true reason we’re here, our students’ success. And, as we get mired down in Process, Committees, Strategic Planning, Assessment, and all of the other things that cause us stress (including campus tragedies), let’s remember that we’re here to work together to make the environment the best we can. We all want the same thing…so let’s focus on that as we reflect on this first week, on North Seattle and Umpqua, and on the year to come.

Thanks for the thoughtfulness and I wish for you a restful weekend.

Friday Letter, 9-25-15

Hello All –

As you might guess, I write the Friday Letter about 24 hours in advance so that I can post first thing Friday morning. The letter (which starts a few paragraphs down) was written yesterday with that upbeat tone I try to maintain. However, I decided I needed to add a few paragraphs this morning in light of yesterday afternoon’s events.

Yesterday at North Seattle College, our colleagues experienced the situation that none of us ever hope to face. Cascadia’s Dean of International Programs, Mari Acob-Nash, left immediately upon hearing the news of the bus crash. She came to us from North and still has many connections there among the students and employees. I have not heard back from Mari, but I hope she was able to help them through this time and I know that she will be personally affected by this event.

For all of us, it is a reminder about how random and tragic life can be. This could just as easily have been a Cascadia bus. Our condolences go out to our colleagues at North and, it is very possible, that some of our Japanese and Chinese students may have had friends impacted by this tragedy. In the days to come, I want to remind folks of our Employee Assistance Program as well as student counseling services available through our agreement with UWB. Students can find more information about how to access their services via this link. Employees can check in with Human Resources for more info.

The loss of life and serious injury to others serve to remind me that we must not only be prepared for these types of events, but we must appreciate each day we have to serve our students. The true meaning of our work is about helping our students reach a greater goal. We never know when a tragedy will become our reality and the course of our lives will change.

** Original Letter Follows **

Thanks for a great potluck this week as well as outstanding attendance at Convocation. I hope this week’s preparation for classes on Monday has gone well for you. Remember that parking will be nuts, so we encourage you to think about arriving earlier than normal to avoid any delays. We hope to be opening a new surface lot behind UW4 (Discovery Hall) in November, so that should help alleviate the pressure after that time.

We omitted an important introduction at Convocation. We introduced full-time employees and acknowledged part-time faculty, but our part-time staff who attended needed a little shout out too (which I forgot). Welcome to those folks and please take a moment to refer to the list distributed at Convocation to know who are new folks are in all the various departments.

Congratulations to the Student Success, Student Life, and College Relations staff for organizing the biggest Jumpstart Orientation we’ve ever had. Over 400 students were here yesterday getting oriented. I was completely impressed by the signage, the check-in staff, the student leaders, and the skill displayed at getting 400 students in and out of Mobius effectively. Nice work.

There are some facilities-related issues that have happened recently or are happening this month that I want to share:

  • The UWB administrative offices moved to Beardslee Village this last month. 75 of their administrators now reside there opening spaces for academic purposes here on campus.
  • UWB has begun design for a new building and we will be submitting our request for CC4 in December. We are in a competition with 10 community colleges for 3 possible funded projects.
  • UWB is submitting a request for residence halls to their Regents in October. Their idea is to build them in the back construction lot where the collaboratory is currently being built.
  • The Activities and Recreation Center officially opens next Monday. Check it out!

With regards to our school district partners, we had a meeting yesterday and are pursuing these things over the next few months:

  • We have developed a presentation for parents that the president of Lake Washington Tech (Dr. Amy Goings) and I will be delivering over the year.
  • We have designed opportunities for our advising and counseling staffs to have annual meetings at the school districts (if they are college staff) or at the college campuses (if they are school staff).
  • We now have data we’re looking at each year to see if we can better influence community college attendance through various campaigns.
  • We are setting up a date for our college staff to review how each school district helps students choose post-college options. This will be important for our Running Start population.
  • And Lake Washington School District now has hired a new employee for each High School campus whose sole responsibility is to be a “college counselor”. We will be helping to train those individuals.

Have patience next week!