Friday Letter, 12-16-16

This is the last Friday Letter of 2016. I write this letter with joy and I hope to share with you the reasons.

In November I attended a seminar for “experienced” presidents at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. There were 16 of us. Six of the presidents were from the United States, ten were from other parts of the world. Every type of institution was present: research universities, professional schools, community colleges, trade schools, health care schools, engineering schools. All sizes were present, from 1,800 students to 35,000 students. There were private and public, undergrad and grad. I don’t think they could have planned a better diversity of participants.

The seminar revolved around topics that affect presidents. We talked about governing boards, executive teams, crisis management, communication, and student success. At the first introductory dinner, we were asked to state the biggest challenge at our campus. The other campuses talked about resources, the economy, intrusive governing boards, campus climate, losing their accreditation, Brexit. There were issues at every campus that needed to be addressed, but the one I put forward had to do more with me personally than with our campus. My challenge was to make sure that I am the most effective president I can be, at Cascadia, until I retire. My colleagues laughed at me on Day One.

We spent the next two days in rich conversations.

I learned about their struggles with their governing boards. They seemed to revolve around role expectations and trust. Those things are very clear on our campus and our Trustees and I have an excellent relationship. They also trust you, the employees, and see your good work.

I learned that my colleagues were struggling with evaluating their leadership teams, holding them accountable, and letting people go. While it seems that our staff and executive team may always be in flux, I have learned by being at Cascadia that you never stop building your team, you never stop investing in them, and you approach everything from a learning-centered perspective.

I learned that the basic building blocks of a successful campus are: Communication, Transparency, Distributed Leadership, a Culture of Assessment, and a Culture of longitudinal and progressive Change. I know I can point to these building blocks on our campus. While some people may want more of one or another, we attempt to balance these things to keep our shared governance model alive. Most other places, I learned, have not been as successful at this as we have.

I learned that most presidents stay between 5-8 years. They feel at that time they have contributed what they can and need to pass the reigns. But I don’t like to fit into the norm. While I was considered for another opportunity at another campus 2 years ago, the process of going through that dance and the 3 days at Harvard confirmed something for me. I want to be the exceptional president. I want to nurture this campus and break the norms. I want to see this campus thrive. And I want to be here for a very long time. But thinking about retirement (18 years from now) can be daunting. So I learned to view my leadership role in 6 year increments.

I asked myself this question: Why would I want to put the systems, trust, climate, and culture that I’ve worked so hard to build with you into the hands of another? And, why would I want to repeat that process again somewhere else? I think the answers are clear.

I have tried hard to serve Cascadia to the best of my ability for my first six-year block. And I am so excited about the next six-year block. I am excited to have our Trustees. I am excited to have a learning-centered culture. I am excited to have a small amount of resources and fiscal stability. I am excited that we pursue a campus that believes in Pluralism. I am excited about the doors opening with UWB. I am excited about healthy relationships with our unions. I am excited about our continuous improvements to the academic model. I am excited to know and work with you.

My goal is to approach this next 6 year block with an eye for how we will complete our Strategic Plan (there are 6 years left), when and how we will build our next building (hopefully within 6 years), how we will create more resources through grants and our Foundation, and how we will maintain a productive work environment so our students can succeed. I also know that we have a higher employee turn-over rate due to our size and limited promotional opportunities. I would hope that I could bring the stability needed to see our mission through. And I hope that most of you will want to stick along for the ride.

Not every leader is perfect. I know I’ve made mistakes but I try to hold true to the Cascadia model of listening and reflection so as to learn from those mistakes or change course as necessary. I know I also have to make hard decisions that don’t please everyone. But my goal has always been to be fair, just, and transparent.

At the end of the third day, as I shared all of the above with my colleagues through these discussions, each of them commented how they wish they could have what we have here at Cascadia. The larger institutions sought a more intimate environment where the presidents could know their employees. The institutions facing budget cuts wanted simply to hold steady. And they wanted an environment where they could talk through their challenges and come to resolution in a productive manner. We have that. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

On Day Three, they encouraged me to do everything I could to succeed at my goal. They weren’t laughing anymore. And I wish I could give them the good fortune I have here at Cascadia, but the job is not up for grabs.

As 2016 comes to a close, I hope you’ll be able to find the joy of your job and this place.

Friday Letter, 12-9-16

We had a difficult time predicting weather patterns last night and this morning. Thanks for your patience as we make the decisions about campus closures.  On the one hand, we want to be proactive enough to ensure safety; on the other hand, it’s difficult to make a call when we don’t exactly know storm severity or timing.  And as we are in finals week, we want to do everything we can to also get the quarter finished.

Thanks also for joining us at the Presidents Coffee House yesterday. It was nice to meet some of the new folks and spend a few minutes away from the hectic of the season.  We had over 70 people stop by.

One of the features of the coffee house was our winter wishes program. We have been distributing the needs of our area community for those who want to help others have a better holiday season.  You can pick up a “leaf” with a need on it from the Employee Lounge in CC1, 3rd Floor.  After picking up a leaf, you fill the need and return it to campus.  Our staff will then get the fulfilled needs back to our community member.  For details of the program or how you can help, you can also contact Marah (mselves) or Julia (jwilliams).  This is the last day to pick up a leaf, so act quick!

During this cold winter moment, I am a bit envious of Catherine Crain who is spending this quarter on Sabbatical in Cuba. If you would like to follow her work, she has started a blog, found here (  Maybe reading it will help you stay warm??

If the snow and slush isn’t enough to deal with, there is always on-campus parking. But, we are hoping to make on-campus parking a bit less of a headache.  Based on concerns about the Reserved Parking allocations, we have begun brainstorming alternatives.  We will be hosting four open forms (2 in January and 2 in February) for feedback on the multiple ideas we’ve generated.  These changes could affect those holding reserved permits, and they might certainly affect all employees, even if you are a bicyclist, bus rider, or non-Reserved pass holder.  I hope you’ll attend one of the forums.  Vicki will have those out on Outlook.

Two other topics have been keeping me busy in the President’s Suite. The first is our on-going relationship with area legislators.  Since the election, we have gained a new Senator (Guy Palumbo) and a new Representative (Shelley Kloba) in Bothell.  I will be meeting with them and introducing them to Cascadia.  As well, we serve 5 other legislative districts for a total of 18 legislators.  I will be attempting to meet with each of them twice from January through April to discuss community college funding and the way we can help students complete.

The other topic I am attending to is our on-going campus climate. If you had the chance to read last week’s Friday Letter, you know that we are actively pursuing several opportunities for students and staff to share their voices.  Our website dedicated to these activities (Your Voice. Your Space. No Hate. ) is active and has opportunities listed.  One of those opportunities is the Campus Conversations program happening in the Center on Mondays and Tuesdays each week in Winter Quarter.  We did a pilot of that this week and had great attendance and good conversation on Tuesday.  If you are interested in being the facilitator of a conversation…1, 2 maybe 3 times next quarter…could you please reach out to me for details?  I am looking to fill slots beginning January 9 and 10 (12:00-1:00pm) throughout the quarter.

Have a warm weekend!

Friday Letter, 12-2-16

Dear Campus Community,

Over the last several weeks, college and university presidents across the country have emphasized the role of higher education in educating and protecting their students. While Cascadia has written several letters to employees and students reiterating our values, I want to take a moment to summarize the outlook on our campus from the perspective of the administration and the college’s governing board. And so I write this letter on behalf of our Muslims, immigrants, Blacks and Latinx; on behalf of our LGBTQ and individuals with disabilities, our women and our veterans; and on behalf of every person in our community who demonstrates respect towards others and is invested in learning.

It is both a challenging and critical time to be a member of a public institution of higher education in the United States. It is challenging because so many in our community are genuinely afraid for themselves, their families or their friends. It is critical because we are responsible for teaching and defending the values that define Cascadia. This is not the work of solely the administration, the faculty, or student services, but the collective work of all the employees and students who believe in Cascadia and our mission, and who show up every day to commit themselves to shaping a better future for all of us.

Allow me to be perfectly and unequivocally clear about our institution’s mission and values: Cascadia exists to educate all students and to positively transform their lives. Fundamental to that mission is our commitment to the principles of pluralism, social justice, and cultural richness. We have these values so that all of our students can reach their fullest potential. And we will never tolerate behaviors that serve to marginalize individuals or groups. Those who bully, direct hate, or incite violence will be held accountable.

This is neither quick nor easy work. There is no one blueprint to guide colleges through such complexity and ambiguity. We are learning together, in real time, how best to respond to questions, provide comfort and safety, and hold space for those who are struggling to understand, while simultaneously protecting free speech.

At this moment, we cannot know exactly what changes or new federal policies lie ahead and how they will affect us. We may be powerless to influence outcomes on the national stage but we are not powerless to establish the parameters and set the tone on our own campus. It is the responsibility of each of us to hold our neighbors, our co-workers, our fellow students, and campus visitors accountable to our standards of pluralism and social justice. It is our privilege to unite against bigotry, to give students a voice, teach them to be advocates and stand up for human rights.

How will Cascadia demonstrate this commitment and resolve? The college is coordinating activities and events to promote our values and facilitate learning.

  • Community Conversations

Held twice weekly on Mondays & Tuesdays, beginning December 5th and 6th from 12:00-1:00 pm in The Center for Culture, Inclusion, and Community (CC1-002). These discussions will be facilitated by a rotation of faculty and staff and are designed as a safe space for discussion and reflection.

  • Writing on the Wall Project

Students are encouraged to share their perspectives and tell their stories.

  • Border Door Project

Students, staff and community members are invited to illustrate their immigration stories on life-size doors.

  • Freedom of Expression Board

The place on campus for posting information about organizations, groups, initiatives or events that are not directly associated with the college.

  • Bias Incident Response Team

Student Success Services is establishing a “first response” team to manage campus bias incidents.

For information about these opportunities and others, please visit the web page created for this initiative.

As well, the college encourages students to talk with trusted faculty and staff about their experiences, especially if hostility is encountered anywhere on campus. We recognize that it may be difficult to report acts of hate, but sharing the experience with a Cascadia employee will help us think about resources and responses to help prevent further instances of unwanted behavior.

Our campus efforts, our collaboration with the university system, and our work as part of the state’s community college system will hopefully allow us to retain the same safe and positive learning environment we’ve always had. I believe if we truly live the values articulated in the college’s founding documents, and commit to the actions included in this letter, we will be a safer place. We call on our students to have a voice and we will protect that voice. I hope you will stand with me as we make this our reality.


Friday Letter, 11-18-16

Guest Writer – Rosemary Sutton

I’ve been thinking a lot about anger.

I spent 10 years studying teachers’ emotions – especially anger and frustration and the way teachers report managing or self-regulating their emotions.  The impetus for this research was personal.  A chapter I wrote in 2007 began:

A first year teacher with a class of 13- to 14-year old students sternly says, “Jessica, a reminder I want to see you after school.” Violet (Jessica’s best friend), then says, “Miss you shouldn’t punish Jessica, you both just lost your tempers.”

This incident from my first year teaching is still vivid and contains elements of a line of research it took me more than 20 years to begin. As a beginning teacher from a family that stressed the importance of managing intense negative emotions, I was embarrassed that a 14-year-old girl believed I had “lost my temper,” even though I had decided not to punish Jessica before hearing Violet’s advice.  For many years I believed my experiences with anger and frustration in the classroom were idiosyncratic and that other teachers did not experience them.[i]

However, after 20 years of talking to K-16 teachers and reading the research literature it became clear that the vast majority of American adults often experience anger and struggle with “managing” their emotions especially their anger.

I learned a lot from my research about anger.

For example, emotions, from a social psychology perspective are complex processes comprised of multiple components including judgements, subjective experience, physiological change, emotional expression, and action tendencies.

The judgements may be instantaneous and unconscious, and/or slower and conscious.  Anger typically includes a judgement that someone is to blame for a blocked goal, or an arrogant entitlement of unfairness.  I find it so much easier to understand the anger of people with goals similar to mine or those who view an “arrogant entitlement or unfairness” in the same way.  The recent election highlighted how hard it can be to understand the anger of others – especially others we have little contact with.  For example, I grew up on an isolated farm and, as a young adult lived in small towns in New Zealand and Missouri.  However, since then I have lived in college towns or urban areas so understanding the contemporary lives of rural Americans is difficult.  I’m trying to learn, and a helpful recent book is Strangers in Their Own Land, Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochshild. Read an excerpt here.

The subjective experience of anger refers to the private experience of an emotion. Anger does not feel like sadness, guilt or joy.  We often use metaphors to help us understand this private experience and in the Western World the metaphors for anger often involve heat, fire, or blowing off steam.  Anger can feel comfortable or uncomfortable – some people enjoy anger and seek to prolong it whereas others do not.  I sometimes think about prolonged intense anger (especially about some “arrogant entitlement”) as the center of a whirlpool – when I get to close it seems impossible not to get sucked down into the vortex.

Physiological changes associated with emotions involve body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.  Emotional expressions include changes in facial expressions and the angry face typically involves narrowed brow, thin lip and flared nostrils (examples of emotional faces). There is some evidence that the angry face is similar across various cultures even though the triggers and subjective experiences of anger, as well as the norms of the appropriateness of expressing anger vary among cultures.

Anger frequently invokes action tendencies that motivate a person to action – moving against the situation or person, hurting the target, or changing the situation.  This is in contrast to an emotion such as sadness which typically has an action tendency of withdrawal.  Anger can be a powerful motivator for efforts associated with social justice and is integral in my long efforts to fight various forms of sexism (see the photo below at a Take Back the Night March in 1980-1. It really is me).

Emotions also influence how we process information. When angry, we tend to blame and seek to punish other people, we are slower to associate positive traits to a member of the out group, we are less trusting of others, we take more risks, and we remember more of our own angry incidents.[ii]   According to reports in the media, some Democrats, especially those who actively worked in the Clinton campaign, are blaming others and taking risks going on the record with their complaints.  Clearly, they are angry.

A lot of Americans are angry now.  The teachers I studied reported using a lot of strategies to “manage” their anger in the classroom.  These included reframing the problem or incident that triggered the anger, working on preventing the incident or problem in the future, exercising, or doing something else enjoyable.  Some teachers found talking to each other about their anger or the incident helpful – others said that talking could intensify their anger unless it involved reframing the problem or a lot of humor.

I don’t have any special insight into what happens in the US in the future.  I am glad that I work at Cascadia where we try hard to live our values of caring and pluralism and our day to day work remains transforming lives.


Rosemary Sutton, circa [don’t ask] Click to enlarge photo.


[i] Sutton, R. (2007). Teachers’ anger, frustration, and self-regulation. In P. A. Schutz, & R. Pekrun (Eds.), Emotion in education (pp. 259-274). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.





Friday Letter for November 11, 2016

– Guest Editor Terence Hsiao

Tomorrow is the day we set aside to honor our veterans, we have the privilege of serving 121 of them on campus. We all know a veteran. The one I know best is my father, he joined the US Army before he became a citizen, having immigrated to the US from China as a teenager. When I was a child he would tell me stories of his service, one of which involved meeting my mother while he was occupying her country.

Military service was once common because of the draft, today’s veterans are a rare breed. We know studying abroad is an unusual privilege — last year about 300,000 students studied abroad — in contrast fewer than 200,000 citizens enlisted in the military. Why do they make that choice? We have been a nation at war for the last 15 years in a struggle that is likely to span generations. Enlisting means giving up the freedom, family time and opportunities the rest of us enjoy; it means  placing the needs of the nation over one’s own and it means risking the loss of friends, one’s own physical and mental health and even one’s own life. Why have our veterans made that choice? It certainly isn’t the money, last year an E-1 recruit earned $16,824, his boot camp Sergeant made $28,685. Every veteran joined for their own reasons, the veterans I know joined for reasons of idealism, service to country, self-improvement and family tradition. The military tradition they follow is one of values, discipline, teamwork, sacrifice, service, honor, progress, and respect for others.

Higher education is often contrasted to the military, stereotypically focusing on the individual rather than the team, peace rather than force, research over practice and innovation over tradition. It’s a false dichotomy, the US military is arguably America’s most progressive and service oriented institution.

As a society we’ve struggled to be inclusive. The military was racially integrated well before the Civil Rights Act. It was a struggle. In the Vietnam era there were race riots on the USS Kitty Hawk and numerous other racial incidents that reflected the tensions within our society. Rather than minimizing or avoiding those issues the military took them on, with a sustained focus on what we now call “diversity”; the fruit of that ongoing effort is probably the most successful example one can find of large scale social change in American society.

The military is forward looking and faces reality head-on as demonstrated by the Pentagon’s Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Directive which, among other things, calls for the military to address national security threats based on “actionable science”.

The military upholds American values. When pressed to employ interrogation techniques that the Nazis practiced (and were successfully persecuted for during the Nuremberg trials), i.e. torture, the US military refused, citing the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The CIA proved to be less committed to upholding our values.

When we think of the military it is easy to focus on destructive force, on coercion, on power rather than cooperation and building bridges. Our military and those who serve in it take as much pride in their role in humanitarian relief, such as the work done to halt the Ebola epidemic, to help the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan and the Haitians from the 2010 earthquake as they do in operations like the one that brought Osama Bin Laden to justice. The value of these efforts and the way in which our military conducts itself are incalculable.

As I mentioned, my father met my mother while he was occupying her country. The country was Germany, and it was occupied because it had gone down a long, dark road of division, demonization, vindictiveness, lawlessness and violence that caused immeasurable destruction and damage, not only to Germany, but to the entire world. The United States helped bring that nightmare to an end and helped Germany rebuild, not only physically, but spiritually and morally. Although there were ample reasons to treat Germany vindictively, we did not. We followed our highest ideals though Germany had been our bitterest enemy.

Our military embodies those values, the veterans among us have fought, sacrificed and died to uphold and protect those values. Veteran’s Day and honorary halftime ceremonies at football games and “thank you for your service” are an inadequate response to the commitment our veterans have made as citizens.

If you are not a veteran and have the chance, pick up and read Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. For those of you who are more cinematically inclined, the movie is due out next week.

To be worthy of the veterans among us, we need to play our role as citizens in upholding American values. As John Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

If you haven’t gone down to our Veterans Resource Center, located on the lower level of CC1, today would be a good opportunity to meet some of our veterans there.

Friday Letter, 11-4-16

Friday Letter for November 4, 2016

Guest Editor – Meagan Walker

In a nod to the upcoming election…

We’re A Democracy
so weigh in on the Cascadia/UW Bothell Campus Master Plan

PrintThe 2017 Campus Master Plan is underway. The master plan process will ultimately guide the future development and growth of our campus. Cascadia and UWB have been engaging with the City of Bothell, neighbors, and business leaders to get their early input.

Now it’s your turn! Please stop by North Creek Events Center any time between 3:30-6:30 pm on Monday, November 14th for the “Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Scoping Meeting”. That’s a fancy way of saying there will be exhibits and experts on hand to share information and collect feedback. We are very interested to hear from Cascadia students, faculty and staff. Drop in to learn about the planning process, the EIS, and transportation. We’ll also be sharing preliminary concepts that illustrate differing approaches to campus growth. It’s an open house format. Visit our website for more information about the campus master plan.


A Non-Partisan Platform
Community Resource Day

Cascadia will be co-hosting a series of five Community Resource Days with UW Bothell at Mobius Hall. This effort is being coordinated by local volunteers to connect people to organizations that provide essential human services such as housing, food, and healthcare. Cascadia was interested in helping to support this effort, knowing that there are many individuals on our campus and in our community who struggle to meet their basic needs. Community Resource Day is being managed by community volunteers. Paula Molina is doing the work of coordinating the venue (set-up, parking, load and unload zone, etc.). The series will be promoted widely on campus and in the greater community. This pilot program will run the fourth Friday from January through May. More information will follow as we get closer to the January date.


I Want You
to get excited about the trailer

Yes, this is a shameless trailer promotion. John VanLeer and Jessica Ketcham took the trailer, AKA Mo (short for Mobile Laboratory), on the road Tuesday for their Octopuses Are So Hipster learning community. The class was held at Brackett’s Landing in Edmonds. The students collected water samples in the rain then retreated to the trailer to perform dissolved oxygen tests in a dry, well-lit space.

trailer-edmonds“We had 22 students in the trailer clustered around 5 tray tables,” John reported. “It would have been so much harder for us to do what we did if we hadn’t had the trailer.”

Chris Gildow’s Two-Dimensional Design students are working on a design for the trailer exterior this quarter. Their work will be transferred to vinyl then professionally installed.

If you have an idea for how to use the trailer, please contact Sara Gómez Taylor or me.


Our Choice For
the newest member to our Foundation Board

We are happy to welcome Ravi Raghavan to the the Cascadia College Foundation board. Ravi has worked as a senior executive in technology and financial services for Bill Gates Investments, Goldman Sachs, and UBS. He has expertise in strategic planning, financial processing, internal controls, audits, and a dozen other areas of importance to the operation and future growth of our Foundation. The Foundation continues to operate in its slim mode. Ravi joins veteran board members Tom McAndrew and Alex Lee, plus newer members Lori Cadwell and Ron Wheadon. We feel very lucky to have such talented people devoting their time to the benefit of our students and our college.


Every Vote Counts
cast yours to rename the new My.Cascadia

We spent time reviewing the list of fabulous suggestions brainstormed at this year’s convocation and arrived at two conclusions: 1) it is preferable to use in our domain name so that makes the super fun names a bit impractical 2) we cannot stick with because of the way we are building out our new intranet. Given those conclusions, we have selected three finalists for your consideration. Vote now. This poll will close on Thursday, November 10.


Friday Letter, 10-28-16

This is the last Friday Letter of October and soon we plunge into November, our month of Thanksgiving. I am thankful that for the next three weeks I have the opportunity to hand the pen and ink over to Terence, Meagan, and Rosemary.  I will be traveling to Germany for a week on a short vacation to visit family…followed by 4 days in Boston where I will attend a seminar at Harvard for “experienced presidents”.  This is an invite only seminar (I had to apply) and is my professional development activity for the year.  It should be an interesting experience and I will have a lot to share when I return.

In the meanwhile, each of the executive team will take a turn writing the Friday Letter…something we did a couple years ago and was a nice change of pace. They all have some messages and thoughts to share. During my time away (Nov 4-16), Terence will be the acting president.

The remainder of today’s letter focuses on faculty-related pursuits.

I want to give a shout out to Abigail and Jodie for their work on helping to steer the Bachelor’s students towards a successful Campus Climate Conversation this week. Mobius was packed and many instructors from many disciplines brought classes.  The “teach-in” was student led and facilitated.  It was a nice example of staff providing student guidance and I’m thrilled by the response it received.

Another shout out goes to faculty member Tasha Walston who recently began teaching for us in English. She invited activist and former political prisoner Josh Harper to visit her consent-themed English 101 sections to talk about animals and consent and his journey to understanding the rights of non-humans. The students were listening for content and preparing to perform a rhetorical analysis of his talk. As well, Josh will be giving a different talk to the Humanities 101 sections titled “The Personal and Social Cost of Mass Incarceration” where he’ll be using an intersectional approach to explore the history and systems of power at play in our mass incarceration system.  Interesting topics that play off our values of pluralism and our mission of integrated education.

And finally, a number of faculty were involved in summer work groups. Since this is my last Friday Letter until December, I decided to provide a brief synopsis of the work by these groups. I think it important for all of campus to be aware of how we continually try to improve our systems and I want to thank the faculty for their input and design on these projects.

Group #1: Core Teaching Practices The summer Cascadia Core Teaching Practices work group (Tori Saneda, Peggy Harbol, Chris Gildow, Anne Tuominen, Jessica Weimer, Debra Waddell and Nataša Kesler) produced two documents:

  1. Cascadia Core Teaching Practices” – this document gives detailed descriptions of Cascadia’s student-centered approach, including what our learning outcomes look like in the classroom, and explains the key elements of our learning and teaching environment: assessment of student learning, student access and integrated education. (ERIC’S NOTE…I think every employee should read this.)
  2.  “How to use the Course Outcomes Guide” by Tori Saneda– is a step by step guide written specifically for faculty to help them use course outcome guide to prepare their courses and plan assessments.

TLA now uses the Cascadia Core Teaching Practices  document to help plan and guide its work. To introduce a wider audience to the documents they are conducting a Core Teaching Approaches workshop series. This fall they presented Core Teaching Approaches 101 and plan Core Teaching Approaches 102 & 103 for Winter and Spring.

Group #2: Intercultural Scholars

Chari Davenport, Michelle White, Sarah Zale, Kristina Kellerman and Jessica Weimer attended the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication at Reed College in Portland, Oregon in preparation for their work on infusing intercultural competency into the Cascadia curriculum. Their summer work lead to the development of a CANVAS archive of readings and assignments. Look for a version of this site to be shared out soon.  Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, members of this group—Cascadia’s Intercultural Scholars—will be piloting activities in their courses and facilitating discussions and workshops focused on developing student, faculty, and staff intercultural competency.

Group #3: Basic Ed

Dave Dorratcague undertook substantial ESL Course Outcome Guide revisions during Summer 2016 to bring our ESL program into alignment with new federal and state mandates, emphasizing pathways into college and careers from Basic Education for Adults. Previous ESL COGs were based on the Washington Adult Learning Standards. A number of changes in Basic Education at the federal and state level required that we update the ESL COGs to address new standards and expectations. All six levels of ESL are now required to align with the College and Career Readiness Standards and integrate math and employability skills. Dave wrangled all of those requirements into new COGs that reflected up-to-date ESL practices. The new COGs are scheduled to go to SLC for a first read in early November. I also appreciate all of Kathy Biagi’s summer work on behalf of Basic Ed for Adults and she provided a great synopsis to our Trustees earlier this fall.

Group #4: Instructional Design

Lindsay Custer, Robyn Ferret, Jessica Ketcham, Sharon Saxton, Natalie Serianni, Anne Tuominen with the support of Brandy Long worked on instructional design and hybrid module development for English 101, Sociology 150, and Math 141.  During the summer, these faculty developed a set of course designs/assignments, most of which are already in use. Lindsay and Anne established a shared space in Canvas for a SOC 150 teaching repository and added to it some key classroom assignments/activities that have the potential to become common assignments across sections of SOC 150. The English faculty developed a common ENGL 101 “diagnostic assignment” that is being piloted in all fall hybrid and online sections. An online module guides students across these sections in writing a summary of the same Washington Post article. Students’ responses are assessed with a five-dimension rubric that is aligned with a set self-guided activities. Sharon consolidated in WAMAP both problem sets and a course design that guides students in testing their understanding of course topics and asking their questions before they come to class, enabling faculty to customize face-to-face classes around what their students need to learn in order to progress through a pre-calculus class. Her work will support flipping face-to-face math classes and teaching more effective hybrid courses.

Thanks for the great work. Have a great few weeks and I’ll check back when I can.

Friday Letter, 10-21-16

It’s only October and I have the sense folks are feeling overwhelmed. To be frank, I am.  I am currently in Olympia attending the monthly president’s meeting.  As I write this letter on Thursday night, we have so far only talked about two topics.  We have considered what we are going to ask the legislature for and how we are going to do it.  As well, we have had a fairly animated conversation about ctcLink.

Each president, as we enter the room, always asks “How are you?” Being the honest guy that I am, I explain that my bucket is full and give a laundry list of things going on at Cascadia.  In turn, I have heard the same response from almost every colleague.  Everyone seems to be at the max.  Why?  Is this self-imposed or is this something more conspiratorial?

I shared this feeling with the Trustees this week, as I have with my colleagues and now with you, because I think it is important to be self-aware. It is important to know when you are reaching your limits of effectiveness and that as a leader you care about those you work with in the same way.  I recognize that our campus is pursuing multiple initiatives and the executive team as a whole is extremely concerned about pushing people passed the red line and into exhaustion, especially so early in the year.  Why are we feeling this way?

We are passionate people in pursuit of serving our students well and improving our service delivery.

  • ctcLink is driving people insane around the system. Our campus has a team of about 12 people who are working hard to get us prepared, even though we won’t launch until next year.
  • We have a small team working on delivering our inter-cultural competency initiative and a hope that our campus will engage. That takes time.
  • My.Cascadia is in the process of changing. Another team is working on that.
  • We have promised to engage the entire campus in how we will spend our better-than-expected allocation and the Budget Council will have extra meetings to help prepare the campus for that process.
  • Our emergency management team got into full action for the storm-that-never-was, which also illustrated things we need to continue working on this year.
  • Rosemary tirelessly leads a group of folks in our year-long assessment of the strategic plan…a process that never ends.
  • Campus committees are in full swing attempting to accomplish goals set last year.
  • In January we hope to launch a campus wide discussion on parking, and those discussions will need your attention.
  • And, among other things, many of us are dealing with staff vacancies. The faculty is missing Cathy Baker; I am missing Dede. Almost every one of us is somehow experiencing extra workload because we have a staff vacancy or are in the process of training new hires. This is a normal part of the Cascadia process, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I ask that you rest and care for yourself. Get your flu shot, drink plenty of water, and take care of your body’s needs. Enjoy time with family and appreciate them. Find a way to let go of the stress and pursue it relentlessly. Say “no” sometimes. In order to get through the current wave of activity, we will all need to stay focused and support each other. If you haven’t received your Fall Pumpkin on one of last week’s green bucket visits (or if you have no clue what the Green Bucket is), stop by my office for a moment of happiness.

I have confidence that we will survive and Cascadia will be better for it. Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 10-14-16

It was a stormy morning. The sky was black, the air moist, the trees were shaking.

Haven’t you always wanted to start a Friday Letter that way??

Well, that is indeed the weather outside as I begin to write the FL on Friday morning, 7:10am. While stormy, the power is still on for the moment and it looks like we may be good to get through the day.  Thanks to everyone who spent yesterday preparing for today.  We issued instructions to the evacuation teams, the communications team shared our campus protocols, we have been in touch with the campus emergency coordinators and facilities.  And, even with all that prep, we still realized that every situation is a little different, causing us to think and re-think how we should best prepare. If you are off campus, you can sign up to receive alerts.

As a quick reminder, if the power goes out today during class hours, please stay in your classrooms and continue teaching. The evacuation team will head to their stations to provide info to those in the halls.  Within about 30 minutes we will issue an update over the intercom and radios as to if we will continue instruction or close the campus.

The climate is certainly on our minds…which leads me to remind you about the Campus Climate Conversation that is upcoming. (Nice transition, right?) On October 25th, Cascadia will host its very first Campus Climate Conversation. Students, faculty, and staff will gather for discussion about our individual and collective responsibilities to address climate change, to learn about Cascadia’s climate change activities and to discuss and prioritize additional strategies to reduce the school’s overall carbon footprint.  Attached HERE is all the detail you would ever want to know about the event.  I encourage you to attend.

Some of you may have hoped that we would close the campus this morning. That may have caused some dancing by our students.  Speaking of dancing…let me share with you something that seems to have become a yearly tradition with some of our employees.  (Did you like that transition?)

This year’s fantastic team of Kodiak hip-shakers is once again raising money for a fantastic after school program. They’ll be joining the dance marathon tonight and clocking donations until 9:45 pm. According to the event updates: “We are creeping ever closer to our goal. It’s amazing how far we’re able to stretch every dollar for our students, which means no donation is too small (or too big!). Help us get to $40k today!”

This event — which a couple of members of the team are participating in for the 4th time — brings a nice bit of Cascadia awareness to the greater Seattle community.  Anyone 21+ can pay $10 at the door to dance their own cash off. The link to our team’s fundraising page and event details are here:

Thanks to everyone for the great attendance and participation at this week’s DIA. And since I’m out of clever transitions…we’ll end the letter here.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 10-7-16

Happy Week Two. I know we all continue to stay busy and I appreciate everyone’s efforts.

This week you may have read a letter sent by both Dr. Yeigh (Chancellor at UWB) and myself regarding an incident on campus. I’ve had feedback that the letter didn’t provide enough context, so I wanted to add a bit today.  A flyer was found among the UWB buildings this week that depicted a figure stating various controversial phrases.  The flyer suggested you visit their website.  Upon doing so, you soon come to realize that it is filled with hate and messages counter to our value of Pluralism.  UWB reached out for our support in condemning such flyers and messages.  And, of course, I whole-heartedly agreed.

While no one was a direct victim of a crime, our campus will not stand for hate. We are united with UWB on this front and wanted to take swift action.  This flyer represents just one of many actions we might encounter.  One day there could be graffiti, one day there could be something more invasive, one day there could be a crime against a person.  Whenever possible, we wish to remind the campus that each person on our campus deserves respect.

On to other news: I would like to congratulate Louis Mendoza on successfully serving 5 years as a Cascadia College Trustee.  He rides off into new adventures this month and we celebrated his tenure  after the September board meeting.  His focus on critical thinking, issues of diversity, and social awareness were excellent contributions.

I now have the opportunity to introduce our newest Trustee, Dr. Sabine Thomas. Dr. Thomas will begin with us at the October meeting.  Here’s a little background:  Dr.  Thomas received her undergrad degree at Mount Holyoke and her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr.  After being an instructor and research associate with Bastyr, as well as a private practitioner, she accepted an offer to become the Executive Director of the Washington Association for Infant Mental Health.  As an immigrant to the United States, she has experiences relevant to many of our students and her ties to Bastyr compliment Cascadia’s work to support that pathway.  We are grateful to the Governor for making the appointment.

If you want to Google Dr. Thomas, you may also see that she has been on King 5’s New Day helping audiences learned about ways to care for themselves. I invite you to this month’s Board meeting to learn more about Dr. Thomas.

The Navigators met this week. So did the Committee on Social Justice and Pluralism.  I give a shout out to these two groups because they are fantastic advisers to me and great representatives for you.  Please check out the list of Navigators on their my.cascadia site.  (Or in Paul’s words…Kody’s Stool Box.)  The Navigators are here to represent you and each assembly sends representatives.  Our two at-large members, Gordon Dutrisac and Shao-Wei Wang, are also available to hear concerns and provide guidance.  The Navigators discussed budget issues, parking issues, and a number of other issues this month.  The minutes will help you learn more.

The SJP committee also met and reviewed this year’s proposed Cavoline structure (coming soon!), heard about the flyer incident mentioned above, and discussed a few other emerging issues that are affecting our campus. You can check out who is on that committee by also visiting their site. They advise the administration on how best to respond to issues regarding diversity and also prepare themselves for emerging conversations.  The group will welcome Erin Richards and Debra Waddell at a coming meeting as we discuss how to have the healthiest environment for political discourse.

To round out today’s letter, I’d like to direct you to two more publications by our faculty. I offer these references out of a desire to not only recognize the individuals, but to affirm just how cool Cascadia is.  Not every community college can state that they have a publishing faculty.  And that means we stay cutting edge.


Cardenas, Soraya. (2016). “A Climate Change Tale from Mexico: Privilege, Globalization and Poverty.”  In P. Godfrey & Denise Torres (Eds.), Systemic Crisis of Global Climate Change: Intersections of race, class and gender. Routledge Press.

Richards, Erin E. (2015) “Teaching at the Community College: Faculty role, responsibilities and pedagogical techniques.”  In Ishiyama, J., W. Miller and E. Simon (Eds.) Handbook of Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Very nice. Have a great weekend.