April 3, 2014

Seattle Colleges partner with Seattle Public Schools to ensure college readiness

Seattle Colleges partner with Seattle Public Schools to ensure college readiness

Pathway to Completion, a three-year, $3 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build early momentum to achieve completion, is supporting a unique partnership with Seattle Public Schools (SPS). Seattle Colleges math faculty are collaborating with SPS high school math teachers to develop strategies to ensure high school graduates are college ready and accurately placed in mathematics courses at the colleges. Using the Common Core State Standards as a guide, workgroups are focusing on three strategies:  aligning intermediate algebra courses; creating math course placement options based on high school transcripts as an alternative to the COMPASS test; and designing a fourth-year math transition course for high school students who are not ready for college math. The workgroups will make recommendations in June for implementation in Fall 2014.

March 26, 2014


Local leader with strong student focus chosen in national search

Photo: Dr. Warren Brown, North Seattle College President

It is my great pleasure to announce the selection of a new president for North Seattle College—Warren Brown. 

Many of you already know Dr. Brown in his role as executive vice president for instruction and student services at Central. You know his devotion to collaborative work, to openness and to excellence. For those of you who don’t yet know him, you are in for a treat.

This was a most challenging and exciting search process. The committee did a superior job and we had a slate of amazingly accomplished and capable finalists. Thanks to all who did this work and to the many people who attended forums and who shared their thoughts and impressions with me. And special thanks to Mary Ellen O’Keeffe, who served so excellently as president, moving the college forward and leaving it in such good shape.

I feel confident that Warren Brown will continue this commitment to students, to faculty and staff, and to the district’s impact on our city. With his leadership, we can look forward to watching North emerge as a leading institution and a first-choice college for students.

Dr. Brown will begin his presidency at North on July 1, 2014.

Photo: Dr. Warren Brown, North Seattle College President

March 14, 2014


Board of Trustees votes to change name of college district

At its meeting March 13, 2014, the Seattle Community Colleges District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the name of the District to Seattle Colleges and to change the names of the colleges to North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, and South Seattle College.

The decision came after a year-long exploration of national and statewide trends; opinion surveys of students, employees and community partners; and consultation with business and civic leaders and representatives from Seattle Public Schools. I truly appreciate the feedback we received from throughout our community.

All three of the District’s colleges offer bachelor’s degrees now. These Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degree programs provide the third and fourth year of college work for people who have completed a two-year technical degree. Previously the two-year technical degrees were considered “terminal degrees” with no next educational step.

I believe this will inspire prospective students to reach higher than they thought possible. With the same open admissions policies and the same low tuition, local students can start at a local college that can eventually take them all the way to a bachelor’s degree.

Changing the colleges’ names will signal that we are part of the baccalaureate level program and is a move to “raise the ceiling” for all our students.

This is a name change, not a mission change. In making its decision, the Board reinforced its commitment to our mission: The Seattle Colleges will provide excellent, accessible educational opportunities to prepare our students for a challenging future. Albert Shen, Board Chair, said, “We believe that meeting that ‘challenging future’ means the colleges must continue to take new approaches and offer new pathways to access and completion.”

We will continue to serve 50,000 students:

  • from basic skills through bachelor’s degrees
  • in career programs and in transfer programs
  • with support services geared to help them succeed

We expect the name changes to be fully implemented by September, in time for the start of Fall Quarter.

I’m excited about continuing to build our reputation as outstanding colleges dedicated to meeting the needs of our community.

March 5, 2014


Four-year degrees now offered in seven high-demand fields

Four-year degrees now offered in seven high-demand fields

Seattle Community Colleges continue to offer new pathways to serve the growing needs of students, employers and industry. We recently added two new Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees to meet the demands in lucrative careers.

The new BAS in Allied Health at Seattle Central Community College will prepare students for careers as advanced clinical practitioners and supervisors. In the first phase, students can pursue tracks in either Respiratory Care or Dental Hygiene; the second phase of the degree will include tracks in Healthcare Services Management and Community Health and Education. Approximately 85 students will be enrolled across all four tracks each year.

The emphasis for the new BAS in Application Development at North Seattle Community College is on solving real world application problems that meet customer needs. It focuses on skills for software developers and programmers who work with general computer applications software, mobile applications or specialized utility programs.

BAS degrees are practical, career-oriented degrees designed to provide workplace skills in specific high-demand fields. When compared to traditional bachelor’s degrees, the BAS incorporates more applied, hands-on learning focused on a particular industry. They include strong internship components and often offer credit for prior learning and workplace experience.

In addition to the two new degrees our district offers BAS degrees in Hospitality Management, Professional-Technical Teacher Education and Sustainable Building Science Technology (South Seattle Community College); Applied Behavioral Science (Central); and International Business (North).

February 26, 2014


Remembering Ron Lafayette

Photo: Ron Lafayette

Ron Lafayette, president emeritus of North Seattle Community College, passed away on Saturday, February 22. What a sad day.

Ron was a great president at North and will be remembered as one of the people who influenced and shaped the whole District.

After a proud beginning as a student in a community college (Skagit Valley), Ron’s background was in Audiology and Speech Pathology (BA and MA Western Washington University). He first came to the Seattle District for the Regional Education Program for Deaf Students (Assistant Director 1974-76, Coordinator 1976-79). Under Ron’s leadership, that program won national acclaim and was a model for deaf education. He published a number of research papers in the field of education for hearing-impaired adults, and consulted with colleges nationally and internationally.

Ron continued in the District as director of the Office of Special Programs at Seattle Central until 1982. Between 1982 and 2001, he was the director of the Urban Center at Western, executive vice president for the Institute of Extended Learning at the Community Colleges of Spokane district, interim president of Spokane Community College, and interim director of Workforce Education for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. He earned a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Brigham Young University, and capped off his career of leadership and contribution with his eight-year presidency back in the District.

In his own words, Ron especially valued the community colleges’ “flexibility and entrepreneurship.” He provided stellar leadership from conception to the final product of the Opportunity Center for Employment and Education, the first integrated facility for Employment Security, Department of Social Services and the College Workforce program. He also chaired the Northgate Stakeholders Group, which helped shape plans for revitalization of a large area of North Seattle; he was a member of the United Way of King County Board of Directors; and he played a major role in developing the Alliance for Corporate Education, a collaboration of community colleges that provides customized corporate training.

Ron received the Extra Mile Award from the Spokane Economic Development Council, Phi Beta Kappa’s Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, and the United Nations Association - Seattle chapter award for contributions to the “human rights of citizens with disabilities.”

In 2009, Ron was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of Western’s Woodring College of Education. He was noted for his support of the partnership between Woodring and North “by providing a path for nontraditional students to become excellent teachers for the state of Washington through programs like ‘Today’s Students – Tomorrow’s Teachers,’ which works with public high schools to identify students with the potential to be great teachers.”

This is exactly what one would expect from Ron—leadership for a great cause, outreach to students with potential who might otherwise be overlooked, and a smile for everyone.

A memorial service will held at 1 pm on Saturday, March 8, at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2015 E Blackburn Road in Mount Vernon. A special event to celebrate Ron’s life will be held at North Seattle Community College on Saturday, March 29. Details will be forthcoming.

Photo: Ron Lafayette

February 18, 2014


National Legislative Summit focuses on needs of community college students

Photo: Board of Trustees Chair Albert Shen

Last week, Albert Shen, chair of the District’s Board of Trustees, attended the National Community College Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit, hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees and the American Association of Community Colleges, is an annual gathering of leaders from across the country aimed at engaging legislators and advocating for community colleges.

Some of the top priorities for the summit this year included 1) supporting the Federal Pell Grant; 2) sustaining and enhancing federal funding for community colleges and students; and 3) strengthening workforce development. The common theme of these priorities is that they are targeted on making community college and career education available, affordable and useful for students.

It’s heartening to know that senators who spoke at the summit understand that our institutions play a significant role in the overall health of our communities. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for major reforms in the financial aid system. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) suggested greatly reducing the complexity of the application for federal student aid. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) wants Congress to allow more options for repaying student loans. These changes will give more students a chance to pay for college and move ahead.

I applaud Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) comments that community colleges should be more innovative with how credit hours are assigned, specifically to those with work experience that can apply to their area of study. The staff and faculty at our colleges are actively pursuing this direction—along with others—to give the many workers in our region credit for what they have learned through experience. We are instituting new procedures to improve the number of students who complete their programs and degrees with help from a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and our “Pathways to Careers” partnership with the City of Seattle and a host of other Seattle organizations is building educational pathways to better jobs for more than 1,500 students.

We couldn’t be proactive without the support of our Board of Trustees, which, in addition to Albert Shen, includes Jorge Carrasco, Carmen Gayton, Courtney Gregoire and Steven Hill. They are committed to leading the way in offering an attainable education and providing the skills to put people on the path to a job or higher education. I am grateful for their guidance and support as we move our colleges forward to raise aspirations and expand opportunities for everyone in our great city.

Photo: Board of Trustees Chair Albert Shen

January 27, 2014


Remembering Vera Ing

Photo: Vera Ing

The Seattle Community Colleges lost a treasured member of our community with the recent passing of Vera Ing.

A leader in Seattle's International District and throughout the city from the 1960s until the time of her passing, Mrs. Ing served on the Board of the North Seattle Community College Foundation from its founding in 1990 until 1999. She was the Board Chair from 1994-1997. She was the first distinguished alumni in 2002, when the annual award was created.

Mrs. Ing was an urban planner with Ing & Associates, where she developed plans for an expanded International District as well as 10-year master plans for both Everett and South Seattle community colleges.

A lifelong Seattleite, Mrs. Ing spent her first years living in Chinatown, where her parents owned Don Ting Restaurant. She graduated from Garfield High School and from the University of Washington in Urban Planning. She worked for the Seattle Housing Authority, the Department of Social and Health Services, and as a legislative assistant to Seattle City Councilman Tim Hill, and served on numerous boards and commissions.

We will miss Mrs. Ing and send our condolences to her family.

Photo: Vera Ing

December 30, 2013


Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration launches The Race Card Project in Seattle

Photo: Michele Norris

“I was taught to fear others.” “I’m brown, therefore I am invisible." “White by day; Black by night.” “I would have pulled the trigger.” “Cute baby. Where is she from?“I’m only Asian when it’s convenient.”

Three years ago, Michele Norris, host and special correspondent for NPR, started a national conversation with The Race Card Project. TRCP invites participants to share their thoughts, experiences and observations about race in one sentence with only six words. The quotes above were submitted by people from Seattle. Thousands of interesting and thoughtful sentences from around the world are posted on The Race Card Project.

Norris brings TRCP to Seattle to help us honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream of social justice and peace. With local residents taking part in the conversation, we hope to get Seattle’s candid views about race and ethnicity, providing a resource for respectful dialogue that gives life to Dr. King’s dream.

We hope you’ll take part in this inspiring and thought-provoking program by submitting your race card here and joining us on January 17.

The program also includes the award-winning Greater Works Chorale led by DaNell Daymon, a reading of race cards from Seattle, a presentation of the Rev. Samuel McKinney Scholarship, and remarks by Chancellor Jill Wakefield and Rev. Aaron Williams.

Tonya Mosley, a broadcast journalist who recently produced the Black in Seattle series for KUOW, is the emcee. At a reception following the program, she and Norris will join participants for a Q&A session and discussion of TRCP.

The 40th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration is from noon to 1:30 pm at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1634 19th Avenue, Seattle. The reception will begin immediately after the program and will last one hour.

Photo: Michele Norris

December 11, 2013


Remembering Nelson Mandela

Remembering Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” He championed the cause of education and changed the world forever.

Charles Mitchell, former Seattle Community Colleges chancellor and president at Seattle Central Community College, treasured the brief meeting he had with Mr. Mandela in 1999, at an event sponsored by our colleges, Seattle University and the University of Washington. He recalls, “What impressed me most about Nelson Mandela was that he treated every person with kindness and grace. I had read many of his writings and was enamored of his words and actions, and very much looked forward to meeting him. It truly was a highlight of my career to present him an honorary degree from our college – the only one he ever received from a community college.”

Read about Mr. Mandela’s visit and watch a video of the degree presentation.

November 18, 2013

New BAS in Fall 2014 will meet demand for sustainable buildings

New BAS in Fall 2014 will meet demand for sustainable buildings

A new bachelor of applied science (BAS) degree in Sustainable Building Science Technology will be offered in Fall 2014 at South Seattle Community College. The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges recently approved the new degree. A final step before classes can begin in Fall 2014 is accreditation of the new degree by the Northwest Association of Colleges and Universities. The program will provide students with skills to manage and operate energy-efficient facilities. As more building remodels and new construction meet the demand for sustainability, we anticipate this field will continue to grow. Classes will be offered evenings, weekends and online to accommodate working students.

BAS degrees are practical, career-oriented degrees designed to provide workplace skills in specific high-demand fields. When compared to traditional bachelor’s degrees, the BAS incorporates more applied, hands-on learning focused on a particular industry. They include strong internship components and often offer credit for prior learning and workplace experience.

The Seattle colleges now offer four BAS degrees, including Hospitality Management and Professional-Technical Teacher Education (South Seattle); Applied Behavioral Science (Seattle Central), and International Business (North Seattle).

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