Focusing on the Future

 In News, Partners Magazine
As Clark celebrates its 80th birthday, President Knight aims spotlight on what’s to come

By Chato Hazelbaker

Che’yna-Shotwell is a future Clark College student thanks to a Penguin Promise Scholarship.

Che’yna-Shotwell is a future Clark College student thanks to a Penguin Promise Scholarship.


A few rows back at this year’s State of the College address, Che’yna Shotwell sat with her mother listening to all that Clark College has accomplished in the past year, and more importantly what lies ahead. She has a vested interest in the success of Clark, and like hundreds of students in the service district, Clark has a vested interest in Che’yna’s future success.

In his annual State of the College address, President Robert K. Knight recognized the accomplishments of the college as it marks its 80th anniversary—but spent most of his time focused on the future. As Knight made clear during his January 16 address, the college is devoting a lot of energy to planning for the years ahead: a Facilities Master Plan, a Strategic Enrollment Plan and an overarching Strategic Plan that will guide all decisions at Clark for the next five years.

After noting the college’s recent accomplishments and strong partnerships in the community, Knight highlighted some of the college-wide initiatives that are just over the horizon. He congratulated the Clark College Foundation staff for their work thus far on the college’s first comprehensive campaign, saying he was confident they would achieve the goal. He also smiled and joked, “And we aren’t done yet.”

Knight noted two upcoming capital additions to the campus; one in the next year and one in the future. This summer the campus will break ground on a 70,000 square-foot science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) building. The second project is a satellite location in northern Clark County, which was part of the 2007 Facilities Master Plan. Knight reminded the gathered supporters that the campus had submitted the North County project to the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges and received approval to build one 70,000 square-foot building. For several years, the college has talked with community leaders. Now we are in negotiations with a landowner and hope to have exciting news in the near future.

In the area of instruction, Knight announced that the college hoped to pass the final hurdles to offer Clark College’s first Bachelor of Applied Science degree, in Dental Hygiene—and that Clark might offer more four-year degrees in the future.

“Let me be clear: This is not a stepping way from our mission,” said Knight. “These degrees are focused on preparing students for jobs in this community, with hands-on skills to prepare them for the workforce. It is the right thing to do for Clark and the right thing to do for our students.”

A year ago, Knight introduced the Penguin Promise Scholarship, which provides a path for some members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington to enter and complete their education at Clark College. A partnership between the community, the Boys & Girls Club and Clark College Foundation provides top-off dollars for tuition, fees and books once these students are accepted to Clark College. During his speech, he took the next step in that promise by welcoming Che’yna Shotwell. Shotwell is on track to be the first Penguin Promise student. She is currently a junior at Mountain View High School.

Knight concluded by acknowledging that there will always be challenges, but ultimately people working together make a difference.

“We have seen hard times at Clark College, and the truth is that we will probably never feel that we have enough resources, are appreciated enough, or can highlight all of the lives that are changed here. But today, as we look toward the future with the guidance of a Vision 2020 strategic plan, and further to Clark College at 100, I want to thank you for the good work that you do for each of our students and for our community.”

He then invited the audience to contribute their thoughts, ideas and talents to engage in the process of learning so that by our example, students may learn what it is to be part of the Penguin Nation.

Chato Hazelbaker is Clark College’s interim chief information and communication officer.


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