Friday Letter, 5-25-18

What’s happening?


The Trustees have seen the college budget as distributed to the campus a few weeks ago. They have passed it along to a 2nd Read which will happen at the June 13 Board meeting. If passed, the budget goes into effect on July 1.


Our committee, under the leadership of Tori and Erin, have narrowed the pool down to 4 final candidates. Those schedules and biographies are being distributed today and next week. The candidates will be with us on May 31 and June 1, two candidates each day. I hope you will come to their “Community Presentations”. I look forward to reading through your feedback. I hope to have an offer made before Commencement.


The efforts around our consortium with 12 biotech companies and 7 higher education institutions continues. We have now released a Request For Proposals to hire a consultant to finish the workforce gap analysis. This is being paid for out of a grant given to Cascadia by the legislature.


This work also continues. I’ve had two forums with faculty; thanks to those who attended. Over the summer, I have 6 business lunches set up with business owners in the 6 communities we serve. We will be reviewing the ideas generated in late summer and early fall.


I will post an update before Commencement to describe an intended path forward regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts. Thanks to everyone who has provided input and to the input still to be received.


  • There’s a student art show in the gallery. I encourage you to find some time to visit. Thanks to Chris for his efforts in bringing art to the gallery.
  • Don’t come to work on Monday. It’s Memorial Day!
  • Rosemary’s retirement party is next Wednesday at 4:00pm, CC2-261.
  • Don’t forget to sign up for bowling if you have not done so already. There were still 7 slots available (out of 32) as of this week. Deadline is June 1 for sign-ups.
  • Make sure to thank our student leaders. They had a very successful and sunny SpringFest this week.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 5-11-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend.


Friday Letter, 4-20-18

Finally Spring

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

Higher Education and Industry

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

Full-Time & Associate Faculty and UW Librarians

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

Board of Trustees

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


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


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

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

Have a great weekend.


Friday Letter, 4-13-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 4-6-18

Today’s letter is a mix of information that I hope you’ll find useful, or at least interesting.

First, we have two professional development days this quarter where students will not be on campus. The first is April 19.  We will be hearing presentations about various strategic plan items, viewing the data, and looking for feedback.  This is a crucial part of our accreditation and strategic plan processes.  We started this last year and it is called “Closing the Loop.”  I look forward to seeing you on the 19th from 1:15-4:00 in Mobius.  Yes, snacks are provided.

Our second professional development day is designed for your team, hallway, or discipline to gather and focus on efforts specific to your work. The executive team will be cooking and serving a full breakfast to everyone before you start your team-specific journey.  This will be May 11.  Details to come.

Next Friday there will be activity in Mobius Hall. We are hosting a biotech summit in which 7 institutions of higher education will be meeting with 12 biotech companies to discuss their workforce needs.  We have over 50 people assembling to discuss our current academic pathways and the workforce needs in the greater Bothell area.  From this summit, we’ll develop a workforce gap analysis and develop ways to meet the growing demand.  Cascadia has coordinated the work and that’s the reason we received a $300,000 proviso from the legislature this season.  The money is meant to help these institutions and the City of Bothell design ways to work with the needs of industry.

Over spring break I attended the yearly All Washington Academic Team luncheon. I sat with our two All-Academic Team students and their families during the ceremony.  I appreciated the chance to get to know Olivia Shoesmith and Kelsey Ramsay.  One of them will head to UW and the other to WSU after Cascadia.  Congrats to both of them.

Finally, the Great Cascadia Bowling League is about to get started. Our first step is to collect some information from you on your desire to participate. “Queen Pin Erin Blakeney” and I (Eric Murray, the Roller) are the co-chairs of this employee social opportunity and it is completely voluntary.  Next week you’ll receive an email with the specifics and a survey about participation.  This league will happen in the fall and we hope to have an opportunity to share some social time with our Cascadia Family.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 3-30-18

I’ve been an administrator in higher education since 1992. I have passed the 25 year mark.  That seems incredible to me and I am sure we all have those reflections at certain points in our lives.  I mention that longevity because I believe that today, in 2018, the student populations we serve have never been more vulnerable.

This week alone we heard that ICE agents are actively working in our service area; an anti-Muslim group is going from campus to campus to exercise their free speech rights and may show up at Cascadia and UW Bothell; and the federal administration closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. These actions are provoking fear among our students.

While the college’s primary mission is academic education, many of our students land on campus with a need for support. We try to provide as much as we can in order to help their academic success, but we all know that our resources are limited.  I appreciate the many things we’re doing to help our students:

  • Thanks to the Dreamer Student Team who is providing support for our DACA students. They posted an email with support referrals this week.
  • Thanks to Erin Pankow in Workforce Training who is helping a local non-profit organization conduct focus groups with students on the Basic Food, Education & Training program (BFET) in order to learn how it might better connect people with healthcare and food resources.
  • Thanks to our Foundation which has been creating new scholarships to support different populations of students in need, and to Mark Collins who is investigating grant opportunities.
  • Thanks to Cham Kao and Officer Buendia for upholding the principles that we embrace on our inclusive campus. You can view this picture of them in action during an outreach program this week.
  • Thanks to the frontline Kodiak Korner staff, Larissa Tikhonova, and all the faculty and staff who work so hard to be the safety net that these students need.
  • Thanks to Catherine Calhoun and the CARE Team for offering support to our community with housing insecurity. They also posted an email this week with support referrals.

And I encourage you to read this article on Generation Z. Older generations often misjudge the younger generations for not caring or being passionate. This is a centuries-old MIS-judgment, and the article articulates just how effective the youngest generation in our society has been recently in tackling social issues.

This is work that will never be completed. Different communities have different needs that change over time. We will continue to look for ways to support all our students and to earn their trust. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the students we serve.

Friday Letter, 3-16-18

It’s the end of Winter Quarter. Congratulations!

We continued to receive good news this week. As you might recall from last week’s letter, we received more college funding from our Running Start reimbursement, we received a $300,000 grant to facilitate workforce planning for the biotech industry, and we got funding approved for the design of CC4, our next building.

This week, we received notice that the building that comes after CC4, conveniently called CC5, made it to the next construction list. Of the 25 proposed projects, we ranked #13.  My crystal ball says that CC4 will be built within 4 years.  It further says that CC5 will be built within 10 years after that.  For those of us who intend to be around for the next 14 years, we should see two more buildings come on-line.  WooHoo.

We also received other good news. The Bothell Arts Council has decided to start investing in public art around the City of Bothell.  As a huge supporter of the council in the 2000’s, Cascadia worked side-by-side with them on Live Arts Bothell, an arts festival that no longer exists in our community.  To honor that support, the Council has asked if a statue commissioned by them could be placed on campus.  The executive team reviewed the proposal and agreed.  The statue is of a 10’ tall dragonfly with a 12’ wingspan.  They chose to honor Cascadia because of our past support and because the dragonfly is indigenous to wetlands in the northwest.  The work is being commissioned soon.  No word on its installation date yet.

As we move forward into Spring Quarter, I’d like to make you aware of two efforts underway.

First, we have established a “DREAMer Team.” Last November, Cascadia hosted “Undocu Ally” training during which employees developed ideas for supporting Dreamer students. i.e., those students at our institutions that are undocumented residents.  If you are unaware, DREAMer stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.  One idea that surfaced from this training was the development of a taskforce to support Dreamer/Undocumented students. The executive team approved the group to move forward as a formal campus “team”: The Dreamer Student Team.  To highlight key points, the purpose of the Dreamer Student Team is to serve as a centralized way to collect and be familiar with current and correct information related to Dreamer students, communicate this information to the internal and external campus community, and discuss supports and solutions as issues and concerns arise. The primary mission is to support Dreamer students as requested and needed. Some of the Team’s other work includes: maintaining a library of current and accurate resources; maintaining a website presence; creating professional development opportunities; creating partnerships with Leadership Without Borders, UWB, 5 Star colleges, and local community groups and organizations. You can expect to hear more from the Dreamer Student Team as they continue their work. Please direct any questions or ideas to Samantha Brown ( Thank you for your support of our Dreamer students and this new team.

Second, I’d like to take a moment to update everyone on the Vice President for Student Learning and Success process. This week a few of you showed surprise at learning that Rosemary is retiring.  Indeed, she is retiring at the end of June as she slyly indicated in a recent email post.  We will be having a summer farewell party for her and, in the meantime, have begun designing our search process.  Thank you to Erin Blakeney and Tori Saneda for agreeing to be the committee co-chairs.  We expect to post the position next week.

Here’s how the process will work:

  • Those interested in serving on the search committee should talk with their assembly chairs, who have been asked to compile a list for me.
  • The committee will form and go through all of the necessary preparations in April.
  • Marty and I will be engaging in a “Listening Tour” in April to hear from Classified, Exempt, and Faculty on the traits and qualities you hope we find in our next VPSLS.
  • In May, we will narrow the candidates first via the paper process, second via semi-finals, and finally in an on-campus interview of the finalists.
  • Very close to the end of Spring Quarter, the finalists will be invited to campus. They will go through a grueling day-long process with the various stakeholder groups. These days have yet to be designed.
  • We will then make a selection.

For our college, this is a pretty tight turn-around. I ask that you work with assembly chairs and the committee co-chairs to voice your input. We will make every accommodation reasonable and possible so that folks can participate in the process.

Have a great Spring Break. I’ll write again at the end of the first week of Spring Quarter.

Friday Letter, 3-9-18

The legislature came to a close yesterday. Budgets were determined and numbers were published.  Over the last few months, I have felt a bit beleaguered by our great democracy as I spent many-a-day in Olympia.  I just wondered if all the work would make a difference for Cascadia.  Today I can report that, yes, it did make a difference.

Starting next year, the reimbursement rates for the Running Start program will begin to climb to match that of our state-supported students. This is GREAT news.  It will give us more financial flexibility to meet the needs of our campus.  This was a down-to-the-wire decision.  As of Wednesday, I still didn’t know if our message had been heard.  To get the money, we had to sacrifice a $9M backfill request for compensation left out of last year’s budget for the CTC system.  The Running Start money was worth more and so a trade was made.  We won a lot, and lost a little.  I’ll take that.

We received our design money for CC4, over $3M. Terence and Kim are now starting to outline the process of design that we will begin this summer.  This is GREAT news.  I’m not sure when our construction money will come, but getting the design money gets us on the right path.

We received $300,000 for a biotech initiative I have been stewarding. This money is allocated to Cascadia such that we can bring UWB, the City of Bothell, and the Canyon Park Biotech companies together to develop a workforce plan.  We will be the steering group which will help 7 institutions of higher education and 12 biotech companies work together to fill the 1,000 jobs we expect to become available in this region over the next 2 years.  This is GREAT news.

As you revel in the GREAT news, allow me to remind you that the Truly Express and off-campus parking lot will not be available next quarter. We will be piloting valet parking on the south surface lot for the first two weeks of Spring Quarter to test out a new system.  This new system is a net increase in space, and hopefully a net decrease in hassle.  I ask for patience as we try this out.  Details can be found on the commuter services page.

Other things that happened this week: The Navigators met and spent a lot of time discussing campus Race Politics, a term I learned from Soraya.  We continue to wade through various national and local issues that surround our students and campus.  The Pluralism Committee met and discussed campus safety and how we respond to campus incidents.  (The Special Letter I promised will be published today.)  I attended the LGBTQ+ club meeting this week in response to their invitation to faculty and staff to hear about issues they face.  The club, plus a separate suggestion to the Navigators, brought up how there is a cultural change happening in the English language surrounding the use of pronouns.  This is something for us to think about as we pride ourselves on being progressive thinkers.  More on this soon.  And the UW Board of Regents met this week on campus.  Again, by invitation, I joined them and the UW leadership for lunch.

There is a lot going on and a lot to come. We had a good week.  Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 3-2-18

Happy Friday! We are at the end of Week 9.

I know that everyone is still trying to wrap up Winter Quarter, yet plans for Spring Quarter are already in motion. One such plan involves the Truly Express off-site parking lot.  Spring Quarter typically has the least amount of vehicle traffic during the academic year.  With this in mind, the Truly Express will not operate during the spring.  The last day that the Truly Express will operate for the 2017-18 academic year will be March 15.  Our parking folks conduct a lot of analytical work and we have endorsed their recommendation based on cost and available space.

Parking is one way we work collaboratively with UWB. There are many.  At a joint leadership meeting yesterday, we reviewed other topics of joint governance and decided that we will write a Special Letter outlining some of the more recent issues we’ve faced.  Weapons policy, free speech policy, and crisis response are just a few topics where our work overlaps.  I’ll pass that letter along to you under my Special Letter email series as soon as it is finished.

Thanks to the participants in this week’s TED talk on socio-economic disparity. It led to a great discussion about economic inequity among members of our campus community. I appreciated the conversation.  (If you couldn’t make it, the link to the talk is here.)

One way we can help students who face financial struggles is to encourage them to apply for scholarships. They are due by the end of today.  This is the last chance to encourage someone to apply and the odds are in their favor.  We will award more scholarships this year than ever before and, as of this morning, we’re light on applications.  Direct them to the college homepage to pick up the link.

Also thanks to Monday’s 58 pubbers. What’s a pubber?  Someone who attends the President’s Pub (brought to you by the Cascadia College Foundation).  We had a great time getting to know each other.  As a reminder, we have a social event each quarter:  Fall is the December Coffee House, Winter is the President’s Pub, Spring is the All-Employee Celebration, and Summer will be the return of the Backyard BBQ.  We will practice lawn bowling during the summer event in anticipation of our Fall Bowling League.  Yesss!  A Fall Bowling League is in the works.  Stay tuned for more on that in the coming weeks.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Letter, 2-23-18

As our college president, I consider it to be one of my paramount duties to ensure that we work and learn in a safe environment. This includes communicating timely, assuring that we have proper training and equipment, and working with staff to remain up-to-date.  Over the years, we have conducted shooter and earthquake trainings, offered CPR classes, held hallway-by-hallway discussions, conducted all-campus DIAs, and bolstered our safety and security staff.  This work is never done however.

Every time we witness another community’s tragedy, I wonder if we’ll be next. The high school shooting in Florida and the scare at Highline last week remind me of our vulnerability.  And it reminds me that we must continue to be vigilant in our workplace.  You will receive a letter soon that is being written by the leadership teams of Cascadia and UWB.  We decided to do this jointly because of our unique institutional relationship.  It is a letter designed for our employees AND students.  Today’s Friday Letter is meant for our smaller group of Cascadia employees.

There are a three things I hope you will do for me.

First, please complete our Campus Safety Survey.  If you are a Cascadia employee, it will be in your inbox directly following the email that links to this letter. The survey will take about 20 minutes to complete. The Advisory Council on Campus Safety (students, faculty and staff at UW Bothell and Cascadia College) will use this information to help determine future directions.

Second, I want you to be prepared for an impromptu drill initiated by me. If I come into your office space and say, “You just heard gunshots, what would you do?” I want you to react.  I plan to do this randomly, but often.  This is an opportunity to practice, much like we did in elementary school when preparing for a fire alarm.  Please remember, the response to an active shooter situation is dependent on the specifics of the event.  The best advice is to practice situational awareness and decide, based on the circumstances and your location, whether you can RUN from the incident, HIDE or DEFEND yourself.

There are two videos that provide clear instruction on how to respond in the event of an active shooter.  First, from the University of Washington SafeCampus website, the “Shots Fired on Campus” video can be viewed on this page.   (You need a NetID login for this video.)  Or, if you go to our Cascadia website, you can view this video which we present each year to students.  The first video is longer and includes some re-enactments. I urge you to watch one and share it widely with friends and colleagues.

Third, stay vigilant. We need to prepare ourselves for all sorts of emergencies and safety concerns.  Much like other institutions, we increasingly deal with bias-based incidents. Cascadia and UW Bothell are not immune to these behaviors. College leadership believes it important to inform you of the steps we take to offer a safe community and proactively fight against hate, discrimination, and threats.

If an incident (including verbal attacks, hateful posters, or unlawful activity) were to occur in a Cascadia space, our administration would:

  • Immediately consult with UWB and send a joint communication as necessary.
  • Activate Cascadia’s Bias Incident Response Team. This team assesses incidents targeting members of our community, provides support to those affected, and recommends appropriate actions.

We have set expectations that our Campus Safety officers walk by our student spaces several times each day to ensure a safe environment. This includes spaces such as lounges, the meditation room, and the Center for Culture, Inclusion and Community. Specific Cascadia staff also have designated duties to assure that these spaces are kept clean and presentable for all users. Vigilance is important and it is up to all of us to say something if we see something suspicious.

  • Take the survey
  • Watch a video
  • Say something

Together we can stay strong when faced with the threats that seem to be so common today.