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Distinctions, Challenges, Opportunities

The new executive director will lead one of the outstanding community and technical college systems in the nation as it faces the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Distinctions

  • A vision centered on racial equity: Nearly half of Washington’s community and technical college students are students of color.
  • Strong partnerships with business and labor, as evidenced by recent investments by Microsoft and Amazon.
  • Strong transfer agreements with public and private universities: Community and technical college transfer students make up nearly 40 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates from Washington’s public universities.
  • Historic investments in Guided Pathways that have allowed all 34 colleges to join this national reform movement.
  • State level responsibility for adult basic education, corrections education in the state’s prisons, dislocated worker retraining, and education for people receiving income support from the state.
  • Nationally recognized I-BEST programs, which teach basic skills within the context of career training.
  • A robust research department with a strong partnership with the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University.
  • A positive public image of our community and technical colleges as evidenced by public opinion polls: Eight out of 10 Washingtonians have either attended a community or technical college themselves or had a family member attend one of our colleges.
  • A system of colleges that “speaks with one voice” and acts collaboratively to implement statewide initiatives.
  • A symbiotic relationship between the State Board, trustees and presidents.
  • Regular inclusion of Washington community and technical colleges on the Aspen Institute’s list of top 150 colleges in the nation.
  • Eleven Centers of Excellence that specialize in Washington’s leading industry sectors.
  • A long-standing and growing role in providing applied bachelor’s degrees, giving professional-technical graduates an opportunity to earn 4-year degrees and advance their careers, plus new legislative authority to offer bachelor’s degrees in computer science.

Challenges and Opportunities

  • Achieving equity, completion and retention goals established under our college system’s strategic plan.
  • Re-establishing enrollment growth following a decline before and during the pandemic.
  • Sustaining and hastening the college system’s progress toward eliminating equity gaps.
  • Expanding opportunities for, and enrollments of, working adults at community and technical colleges.
  • Gaining legislative investments in employee compensation to address the loss of excellent faculty and staff to K-12 institutions, universities and private employers.
  • Protecting colleges’ financial health given enrollment declines, inflation, and the need to do more, at a higher cost, for a vulnerable student population.
  • Strengthening and expanding our advocacy networks to secure greater support for students and colleges.
  • Supporting college employees’ professional growth to ensure vacancies are filled with talented and qualified leaders who can carry the baton forward.
  • Moving a large, complex system forward given shifts in the nature of the workforce, the economy, our society, and public expectations.
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