Transforming Lives through Education – in Kenya!

Transforming lives through education. That’s what all of us at Shoreline CC do every day. It is also the mission of an organization that I have been connected to since 2007 – Project Education Kenya. Later today (Saturday, October 12th) I will board a plane for Amsterdam and then Nairobi, and on Monday will make my way – along with the Chair of Project Education Kenya’s Board of Directors – to the Clay International Secondary School in a very remote village, Ngomano, Kenya. I have been to Kenya twice, once in 2007 and again in 2010, and have been a member of the organization’s Board of Directors since 2009. The school offers a four-year high-school program to 130 students, male and female, who live within a 25-mile radius of the Makueni district in Eastern Kenya. Enrollment is based on achieving qualifying marks on a standardized government exam. Students living too far from the school stay with host families in the village of Ngomano – or, in the case of female students, in a girls’ dormitory at the school. All parents of Clay students volunteer their time to support the school.

The story of how Project Education – and Clay International School – came to be is a fascinating one.

The organization was founded in 2004 by three American women from Washington state, who discovered their shared passion for educating rural Kenyan children. Debra Akre, Jeanna King, and Andrea (Andy) Clay found an opportunity to act on this passion when Akre’s friend Benson Mutua – who had a similar dream – introduced them to the village of Ngomano, where he grew up. Discussions with the villagers of Ngomano led to a partnership to create a secondary school different from others – co-educational, private but free of fees, funded by donors, fully built-out and equipped, with live-in Kenyan faculty and creative teaching methods that addressed all aspects of the children’s wellness. The parents would assist with the operation of the school and Mr. Mutua accepted the job as first Country Director. Through the Clay Family Foundation, Andrea and Jim Clay purchased 25 acres in Ngomano and financed the building of a campus.

Parents made all the adobe bricks used for construction, assumed responsibility for hiring and funding maintenance staff and for cultivating a campus farm. Local qualified students were evaluated and accepted by the founders for the first class of 30, and the school officially opened in 2005. And so a collaboration was formed where children could flourish, supported by their community with outside help, and where stakeholders improved water sourcing, agricultural practices, and helped start a local basket-making enterprise giving life to Benson’s dream – “Not to give someone fish, but to teach them how to fish.”

The CISS curriculum accommodates the standard secondary school mandates from the Kenyan Ministry of Education. Classes include English, Kiswahili, Mathematics (Algebra through Calculus), History, Geography, Laboratory Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) as well as Business, and Agriculture and various electives. CISS offers a unique cultural shift from traditional Kenyan secondary schools because of its dialogue education with an emphasis toward critical thinking and active class participation. The school’s approach is to also teach skills that will provide fertile ground for lifelong learning and for adapting to a rapidly changing world. As active classroom participants, the students both meet the requirements for passing the state exams and are given the tools which will serve them throughout their lives. Interaction with Board members and foreign donors offers exposure to other cultures, supporting CISS’s goal of teaching the students to become global citizens.

To round out the education of Clay students, the faculty employs the Whole Child approach where the intellectual, physical, emotional and economic well-being of each student is equally considered. Nutritional needs are met by 3 meals fed to them every day and their health is monitored and treated by a visiting nurse in the campus dispensary when necessary.

Each student’s unique skills are cultivated and individually accommodated to assure the best possible outcomes. Integrated into the class lessons are those around character development and preparation for active citizenship outside school life. Whether they seek higher education in country or abroad, CISS encourages them to aspire as Kenyans to participate in and contribute to their village, and to their county and national government.

As of 2013, the school has graduated 127 students, representing 98% of its four graduating classes. 21 of these graduates have qualified for government subsidized university scholarships. 27 off to university and over 60 to colleges CISS ranks first in its district on National Graduation exam scores.

As you may know, now is not the best time for a US citizen – or any Westerner for that matter – to be travelling to and within Kenya. The recent attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi has raised tensions substantially in the country and in the entire region. The US State Department has issued travel warnings and advisories, and all travelers are urged to use extreme caution. My plans to visit the Clay campus in Kenya took shape many months ago, long before the terrorist attack occurred. While I debated whether to postpone my trip, I have decided that the work I am asked to do as a member of the Board of Directors – to spend time on campus and to work closely with local government officials to help bring much needed resources to our students – is of paramount importance. While I have some safety concerns, I cannot justify fear as a basis for changing my plans.

I will return to campus on the 22nd, but will be in touch as I am able from Ngomano. Believe it or not, Kenya’s cell phone infrastructure is highly sophisticated, and I am likely to have consistent connections throughout the next week. Look for additional blog entries over the course of the next few days.

Finally, if you are interested in learning more about Clay International School and the work I do in Kenya, please connect to the link below. I wish you all a productive week. Kwaheri!

Posted in Uncategorized

Mending the quilt of our community

As we contemplate the sudden and tragic loss of our beloved community members, Erin Walker and Troy Wolf, we also enter what is certain to be a very long healing process.  Moving forward, each of us will grieve in our own unique ways.  For our community, the grieving process also brings an opportunity to come together and to grow closer.

For me, and perhaps for you, too, there are many lingering questions about each of these tragedies; the one that I fear will never be answered is simply, “why?”  

To be honest, right now I’m finding few answers to any of my questions.  One thing I do know is just how strong we have proven ourselves as a community of colleagues and friends. It is heartening to witness how we have rallied around one another – been with each other – through these tragedies.  While each of us may walk our own path to healing, none of us has to walk alone.

Last week, when all of our local news stations were on campus, I saw Kathie Hunt talk about someone who was more than just another colleague. To quote Kathie: “A college is like a quilt, all the patches fitting together. Troy was a very big piece of our quilt. Eventually, we’ll figure out a way to mend it, but it will never be the same.”

I think those words perfectly reflect how we feel about both Erin and Troy and I am inspired by – and in awe of – the quilt that is Shoreline Community College. It is one that we make together.

We will never be able to replace Erin and Troy, but we can and we will find ways to carry on their work as teachers, colleagues and friends.  We can use their spirits to continue to build our community, to make it stronger and to deepen our relationships.  When all is said and done, the quality of our relationships will determine our success in carrying on the work to which they dedicated their lives.  May their memory live on forever.

Posted in Leadership

Making a ‘dream’ a reality for us and our students

Today, Aug. 28, 2013 is a wonderful opportunity to take stock of wheremlk we have been, where we are and where we still need to go.

This is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. That speech and those words certainly created a seminal moment in the civil rights movement led by King. These moments are important, but only if those who hear the words then put them to work.

One of the things I love about being here at Shoreline Community College is that we are designed to be at the interface between dreams and realities. Education can lift those who need a lift. We provide access to the education and training that can literally turn lives around. That’s the reality of our work and I imagine it is why many of us continue to do it through such uncertain and trying times.

My dream is that through our work together we can touch more lives, expand our reach and make our communities and our world the better place we saw in Dr. King’s dream. Today is a good day to be reminded of that reality.


Suzan Johnson Cook, the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, shares her memories of perspective on the U.S. State Department’s blog.

Posted in Leadership

SCC Student Housing On Track!

Greetings, once again, from China!

I write to you today from Xi’an, China, where I am pleased to report that I had a highly successful and productive meeting with the college’s housing partners earlier this afternoon. Mr. David Lee and Mr. Xie Gang were hand-delivered a letter from SCC Board Chair, Phil Barrett, in which he reinforced the college’s "strong commitment to you, our partners, and to the visionary student housing project at Shoreline Community College." I updated them on the progress of the college’s master development plan with the City of Shoreline, and we discussed terms of a pending ground lease that is currently being drafted by our special Assistant Attorney General. I promised that the ground lease will be submitted to the housing partners for their review within two weeks. Both partners emphasized their continued commitment to moving forward as quickly as possible, and they assured me that "the funds are available and in place."

One of our partners, Mr. Hou Baolin, was unable to attend our meeting due to the untimely death of his father several days ago. I extended my deepest condolences on behalf of the college, and offered to return to Xi’an to meet with him in the very near future.

Overall, the partners were extremely grateful that I took the time to personally visit so soon into SCC’s presidential transition. While I was hesitant to be away from campus only one week after assuming the role of Acting President, I am confident that it was the right decision. We have sent a strong and important message to our Chinese partners – that we are intensely committed to bring housing to our campus, and anxious to see this project move forward without delay.

An Unexpected Surprise
During my visit to Tsinghua University on Friday, Director Yan surprised me by announcing that several of the students coming to Shoreline this fall wanted to meet with me. I was thrilled to greet them, and to have the opportunity to personally thank them for choosing Shoreline Community College (see photo). One of our most industrious partners, Director Yan pledged to continue working hard to promote SCC and to grow the number of students he recruits for us in the months and years to come. Our relationship with him and with Tsinghua is an important one, because our association also portends great potential to expand opportunities for our own domestic students and our faculty to study and teach in one of China’s most prestigious universities.

The Journey Home
I am now looking forward to getting back to Seattle, and rejoining you all on campus on Tuesday. Though only a few days, this has nonetheless been a very successful trip. Until then…

Be well!


Posted in Uncategorized

Successful Start to China Trip!

Greetings to all SCC community members direct from Beijing, China. I am pleased to report to you that this trip is off to a very successful beginning!

Today, Bo Fu and I met with the President, Executive Vice President and Vice President of Beijing Limai Foreign Language School. This meeting was a follow up to an initial visit several months ago by Bo and Diana Sampson, Shoreline’s Executive Director of International Education. The goal of today’s meeting was to bring us together to execute a memorandum of understanding between our two schools, one that I believe will pay substantial dividends for SCC in both the short and the long term.

Why is this Agreement Important for SCC?
Over the past two years our International Education team has been very successful expanding our reach into China, an effort that is primarily responsible for triple-digit growth in Chinese student enrollment at SCC during the same period. While the majority of SCC’s student recruitment there is still accomplished through our relationships with independent agents (to whom we pay commission for recruiting and enrolling students), the market is beginning to trend in a different direction.

Chinese high schools have begun to recognize the value of providing “agent-like” services directly. Because the trust level between parents, students and their high school institutions is generally very high, both have far more confidence in the advice and counsel provided by schools (rather than agents) when it comes to preparing their children to attend college in the U.S. For Shoreline Community College this represents a unique opportunity to directly cultivate prospective students throughout their high school careers, rather than once or twice through a third party. Having the ability to connect one-to-one with both students and their parents over a longer period of time will allow us to control our own destiny, so to speak, and could give SCC a very substantial competitive edge over other schools.

Having an “edge” will be crucial to our long-term recruitment efforts in China (and elsewhere), because the marketplace for international students is extremely competitive throughout the U.S. In the past two months we have signed two such agreements; more are planned. Limai is anxious to explore a wide array of creative pathways for us to enhance our partnership, as are we. This is indeed a great way to begin!

What’s Next?
Tomorrow we will meet with Tsinghua University’s Director Yan, who visited SCC earlier this month and attended our graduation ceremony! Lee Lambert, Diana Sampson and Bo Fu have worked with Mr. Yan over the past year to establish and cultivate a strong relationship. As a result of Mr. Yan’s many connections, SCC will enroll 8 students from Tsinghua University (1+1 program), and another 9 from Yuyao High School, this fall. More on this tomorrow…

Saturday we head to Xi’an, to visit with our housing partners. This, of course, is the primary purpose of this 6-day China visit. Upon arrival I will hand deliver a letter from Board Chair, Phil Barrett, to our housing partners. The letter expresses the board’s continued strong support of the housing project, and pledges its ongoing commitment to a long and prosperous relationship.

Look for more blog posts as our trip continues…

Until then, be well!


President Campbell in Beijing

Posted in Internationalization, Partnerships | Tagged ,

A new chapter for Shoreline Community College

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.”

Posted in Uncategorized

A President in Transition

Higher education is seeing dramatic and fundamental changes. Amazing advancements in technology and enormous impacts from the economic crisis are among the primary drivers of these changes.

Shoreline Community College is a national leader in showing how higher education can turn these challenges into opportunities to serve students with the education and training they need to be successful in this rapidly changing world.

I am proud to have had a hand in the success of Shoreline and its students. When I arrived seven years ago, the college was on uncertain financial footing. Today, we have solid reserves and sound fiscal practices. During my tenure, the college has built upon existing program strengths and developed new ones. Our students go on to find success at the most prestigious universities in the world. We expanded our world-leading Professional Automotive Training Center. We turned a moribund machining program into the top program in the state, nationally certified and placing virtually every student into family-wage aerospace industry jobs.

We are bringing the world to Shoreline, exposing our domestic students to different cultures while giving them the skills to compete in the global marketplace. Our internationalization efforts bring more than $12 million to the local economy, but more than that, they tear down the walls between people and make the world a safer and better place to live.

We dove headfirst into the world of online education and launched the Virtual College. Our core Associate of Arts transfer degree is available completely online. We also offer a number of other online degree and certificate programs. At a time when others cut back, we pushed ahead and are now meeting the needs of more students, delivering education when, where and how they want it.

My work at Shoreline has been very gratifying and now I’ve decided to take a next step. On July 1, 2013, I will take over as chancellor at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. Pima is the eighth largest community college in the U.S. and has six campuses.

I have appointed Daryl Campbell as acting president for the period of June 10-30. As vice president for administrative services over the past five years, he has been closely involved with every major initiative of the college key to our financial turnaround. I have the utmost confidence in his abilities and vision.

Posted in Service