Today marked the beginning of a new chapter at Shoreline Community College. I am excited to be a part of that chapter, but I also want to acknowledge just how much I value the contributions of all our faculty and staff who work to make the great story that is this college.
For the next 20 days, I will serve as Acting President, but I do not view this as time to be a placeholder. We have too many important things to do, too many irons in the fire that demand attention. I plan to continue our aggressive approach to moving this college forward and I urge all of you to do the same. To do anything less is a disservice to the all the work that brought us to this point.
I want to touch on three of those attention-demanding areas.
As has often been the case over these past five years, the state budget is again an unknown. The special legislative session is scheduled to end Tuesday night. Lawmakers continue to work toward a solution to a very difficult problem, too few dollars for too many needs. If the Legislature can find agreement by tomorrow night, we would hope to know the details that impact our own budgeting efforts by the end of June, our deadline. If they reach an impasse, another special session and more uncertainty is the likely outcome.
While we are actively engaged with Olympia, we aren’t in control. To that end, this morning I asked Special Assistant to the President for Budget Holly Woodmansee to begin the work of preparing two proposals that we might bring to the Board of Trustees for their approval at the June 26 regular meeting. One option will be a status quo or “continuance” budget that assumes level funding from this fiscal year continuing into next year. The second option will take into account the various proposals made through the process overseen by the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee. Like you, I’m crossing my fingers that our elected officials can find a way to give us clarity and the resources for the critical work of serving students.
As we look at the all the potentially moving parts of a state and then college budget, let me make one note about the Innovation Fund. The fund was tapped recently for six wonderful faculty projects. Those funds are committed and will move ahead regardless of what happens in Olympia. However, I know that many more ideas are percolating across campus. Later this week, we will publish the Innovation Fund qualifying criteria. Then, this coming fall, we will start accepting applications once everyone has had a chance to review and understand the criteria.
Strategic Initiative – Internationalization
This initiative is showing success far more quickly than imagined when first proposed to the Board of Trustees. The campus is embracing the reality that internationalization benefits all students in our increasingly globalized economy. The number of international students wanting to come to Shoreline to be part of that vibrant culture is growing. The proposed housing project that will be open to all students is also a significant supporting project for internationalization.
The project has taken many steps and a number still remain. Next Tuesday, I will travel to China to meet with our partners. It is important to reinforce our commitment to the project. Also, I am hoping to have documents now being prepared by the state Attorney General’s office with me for initial review, another important step toward completion. My journey this time will be a relatively short one; I will return to campus June 25.
Presidential Search Process
The first step toward finding a new president for our college was taken today. Next will come the naming of an interim president, the person who will be in place during whatever time is needed to find just the right match for the permanent position. While that process and choice is up to the Board of Trustees, they are committed to an open and inclusive process. Details are being finalized as this is written, but it appears that the Trustees will schedule a special meeting for 11 a.m., this Thursday, June 13, in the Board Room. An announcement is expected tomorrow which will finalize the time, date, place and agenda.
Whatever the details of the search process and outcome, I want to be clear about just how much I personally value the work and commitment of all the great faculty and staff members here at Shoreline. Motivated by the fundamental mission of public higher education, we are making a difference in the lives of our students.
While all the comments by the speakers at Sunday’s Commencement were inspiring, I’m reminded of those by Mimi Harvey in the Faculty Address: “Look around you. Look. This is community.”