July 30, 2014

College navigators help high school graduates transition to college successfully

College navigators help high school graduates transition to college successfully

A $150,000 grant from College Spark Washington will go toward a program to help College Bound Scholarship students and other low-income, first-generation students make a successful transition from local high schools to Seattle Colleges.

The program will build a system of services and student supports that can 1) increase direct high school-to-college enrollment rates; 2) orient students to college life and prepare them to succeed as college students; 3) ensure that graduating seniors receive timely academic advising regarding college course selection and access to college services; and 4) provide COMPASS prep and testing with follow-on academic support for students with low-level math and English skills, accelerating their path to college-level classes and a college degree.

Seattle Colleges transition navigators are in place at Interagency Academy (Seattle Central College) and West Seattle High School (South Seattle College). A navigator will begin at Ingraham High School (North Seattle College) in the fall. Each navigator works with graduating students throughout their senior year and their first quarter of college.

July 11, 2014


10 Positive Steps to Get Students on the Path to Accomplishment

Photo: Chancellor Jill Wakefield

A blog post by Isa Adney, the author of a new book called Community College Success, offers “10 things to do for community college success.” They are 10 good ideas, and two stand out for me.

The first is her number one point, too: “Check your beliefs about community college.” How often do the negative, “less than” stereotypes about community college creep into the advice we give students about what to do in their futures? More important, how often do these beliefs taint students’ own excitement about the opportunities and adventures their community college offers? We need to stress that community colleges are very often the first step to great success. Right here at Seattle Colleges, we boast former students including Harvard professor Katie Hinde and Grammy winner Macklemore.

Adney’s number five point is “Make sure students set up a clear academic plan.” That’s great advice. At Seattle Colleges we have started a groundbreaking initiative called "Start to Finish." It redesigns the first-year experience in a number of important and effective ways, including developing clear academic plans.

I’m with Adney on this: We shouldn’t underestimate the potential of community college students. They are the heart of our community.

Photo: Chancellor Jill Wakefield

July 3, 2014


Helping students succeed now and in the future

Photo: Chancellor Jill Wakefield

Recent news coverage of the investigation into some for-profit colleges’ alleged “preying” on low-income students and abusing the financial aid and student loan programs makes me think about our mission and purpose. Financial aid and student loan programs are supposed to help make it possible for people to get the education and training they need to get good jobs—not to provide profits for corporations.

At Washington’s community and technical colleges, we have relatively low tuition and a financial aid policy that keeps student loans to a very small amount of the total. We aren’t here to help students incur a lot of debt. We are committed to helping students succeed in their programs and in their lives after school.

Our community and technical colleges offer programs in the same careers that the for-profit schools do, and more. Across the state, more than 100,000 students are enrolled in workforce education at a public community or technical college. Here at the Seattle Colleges, we have 135 short-term, one- or two-year degree or certificate programs in fields including health, business, manufacturing, social services, IT and the arts. Our programs are designed and created with the help of local industries to prepare students for jobs in high demand areas and family wage jobs.

Within nine months of completing one of these programs, 80 percent of our students are employed. They are in the workforce with little or no student debt, ready to contribute to their professions and thrive as individuals and family members.

Perhaps best of all, our programs are crafted to build on each other. A certificate in an entry-level health-related field is key to a good job, but it is also the first step toward another certificate, a two-year degree, and even a bachelor’s degree. We believe our students’ investment of time, money and dedicated effort should lead somewhere. Our mission is to provide excellent, accessible educational opportunities to prepare our students for a challenging future. We help students succeed now and in the future.

But we don’t have a lot of money for television advertising. Please help us spread the word. Community and technical colleges are the best investment for workforce training.

Photo: Chancellor Jill Wakefield

July 2, 2014


Cutting higher education money shortchanges students' futures

Photo: Chancellor Jill Wakefield

Last month Gov. Jay Inslee directed all Washington state agencies to identify 15 percent cuts in the next budget. All agencies, of course, include fatter agencies and thinner ones. Community and Technical colleges are certainly among the leanest, and in the past five years in Washington, state support for community and technical colleges has decreased by 23 percent, with our students picking up the slack with the 16th highest tuition in the nation.

Certainly, I am a champion of full support for K-12 education. This is the foundation of a well-educated population. But in today's world, it is only the foundation. To build the whole house high school graduates need more. They need college. For a good discussion, check out this piece that ran in The Herald.

Photo: Chancellor Jill Wakefield

June 30, 2014

Teach from experience: Part-Time Faculty Career Fair on Tuesday, August 5, 9am to 1:30pm

Teach from experience: Part-Time Faculty Career Fair on Tuesday, August 5, 9am to 1:30pm

The Seattle Colleges are hosting a Part-Time Faculty Career Fair on August 5 at South Seattle College's Georgetown campus. Talk with deans from North Seattle, South Seattle and Seattle Central colleges and Seattle Vocational Institute, and get immediate feedback on how your experience can transition to the classroom. There are part-time faculty openings for the upcoming Fall Quarter so you could be teaching within one month!

A master's degree in a related field is a requirement for teaching with Seattle Colleges. Rare exceptions may include vocational fields where industry experience replaces education.

Please email your resume and RSVP to Part-Time Faculty Career Fair and receive driving directions and a pass for free parking.

June 13, 2014

Two Seattle Colleges receive funding to grow high-demand aerospace programs

Two Seattle Colleges receive funding to grow high-demand aerospace programs

North Seattle College and South Seattle College are among 21 state community and technical colleges that have received funding to increase their student capacity in high-demand aerospace programs. An important element of the state Legislature’s package to guarantee the Boeing 777X would be built in the state, the $8 million in funding will create positions for more than 1,000 students across Washington. The college programs will support a wide variety of specialties like machining and composite materials manufacturing.

“We committed to continuing investment in the aerospace training programs that matter most to the industry,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “I’m pleased to see the wide variety of programs and geographic distribution of the colleges that were funded and that a subcommittee led by aerospace industry executives made the final recommendations for funding. With our commitment to ongoing investment, Washington is well positioned to maintain our world leading aerospace workforce.”

A subcommittee of the Washington Aerospace & Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Pipeline Advisory Committee worked with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to review and select the winning proposals. In all, 40 proposals were submitted from 24 colleges.

The programs will begin in the 2014-2015 school year. Outcomes will be monitored and future funding will depend on the institutions meeting their stated program capacity.

May 27, 2014


Mayor Murray learns about the personal and economic benefits of Harbor Island Training Center

Photo: (L-R) Harbor Island Training Center students Naomi Ruden and Zach Brick, Workforce Education Dean Wendy Price, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, South Seattle College President Gary Oertli, student Daniel McKee and Seattle Colleges Chancellor Jill Wakefield

The Harbor Island Training Center at South Seattle College continues to engage local policymakers, with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray touring the on-site classroom at Vigor Industrial. He learned about how the program is training future welders to replace an aging workforce, and heard from students how their education plays into the future prosperity of our region.

The program’s first cohort class graduated in December, and 72 percent of those students found work within two months of graduation. The second class will graduate in June, and students on the verge of that huge achievement shared their stories with Mayor Murray.

One student was Naomi Ruden, a sculpture artist who had trouble finding work before learning about the Harbor Island Training Center.

“I’m transitioning my sculpture background into an industrial setting, and so this program for me has been really fantastic,” she says. “It’s made me a better welder and I’ll be able to find work.”

Photo: (L-R) Harbor Island Training Center students Naomi Ruden and Zach Brick, Workforce Education Dean Wendy Price, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, South Seattle College President Gary Oertli, student Daniel McKee and Seattle Colleges Chancellor Jill Wakefield

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.

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