Pierce College Chancellor set to retire

After 45 years of teaching and leadership at Pierce College, including 15 years as a faculty member, 6 years as president of Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, and 17 years as chancellor/CEO of the Pierce College District, Dr. Michele Johnson announces her retirement effective December 31, 2022.  

“Dr. Johnson has committed her life and career to Pierce College,” said Board of Trustees Chair Brett Willis.  “She is a transparent and collaborative leader building internal and external partnerships with other institutions of higher education, K-12 districts, business and industry, and community-based organizations. Her strong leadership is a key reason Pierce has been selected twice by the prestigious Aspen Institute as a Top 10 finalist for their $1 million Excellence in Community College prize.”

In addition to Aspen’s recognition, highlights of Johnson’s tenure include Achieving the Dream’s prestigious national Leah Meyer Austin and Leader College of Distinction awards for supporting student success, the Military Times Best for Vets awards, doubling of graduation rates, expansion of state-of-the-art facilities on campuses at Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup, innovative programs across our diverse communities including Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and relentless pursuit of mission to eliminate areas of inequities and to build an anti-racist institution. 

“We owe her a huge debt of gratitude for her vision, her leadership and mentorship,” Willis said. “We will miss her but her legacy of excellence will live on.”

Johnson is a graduate of Tacoma’s Lincoln High School. She was recognized as a Woman of Influence by the Business Examiner in their first selection in 1999. She was named one of 20 people to watch in the new century by the Tacoma News Tribune on January 1, 2000, and CEO of the Pacific Region by the Association of Community College Trustees in 2016.

“Pierce College is an amazing place,” Dr. Johnson said. “It has been an honor to be part of the college, to work with a dedicated team of faculty, staff, and administrators, to serve our students, our community, and the larger community and technical college system. This has been my life’s work and a labor of love.”

Pierce College will conduct a national search for the next chancellor and CEO. The Board of Trustees will form a Chancellor Search Advisory Committee including faculty, staff, students and community members to support efforts to select a new chancellor who will join us in January 2023.  

APCC Celebrates 25th Anniversary

It was 1996 and Patsy Suh O’Connell was searching for a way to honor her recently deceased father. She decided to create a nonprofit that honored his Korean heritage. She brought together a small group of citizens representing three generations of Americans from Asian and Pacific Islander heritage and through their vision, Asia Pacific Cultural Center was formed.

APCC, located on South Tacoma Way in Tacoma, represents 47 countries and cultures and offers programs and services honoring their distinct artistry, business protocols, history, and social practices. The organization also offers a variety of educational, cultural, and language programs throughout the year that are divided into three categories.

Cultural Program Events and Activities, including an annual Asia Pacific New Year Celebration, are held at the Tacoma Dome. An authentic Polynesian luau, a Korean Chuseok festival and Samoa Cultural Week are some of the many activities that make up the first category. The second category is APCC Youth Programs and Activities which ranges from summer learning programs to the Promised Leaders of Tomorrow program that assists local Asian and Polynesian students in reaching their goal of graduating. Food support programs, vaccination clinics and a wide variety of community support programs make up the final category of Outreach Activities and Projects.

To commemorate 25 years, APCC is hosting a 25th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, November 6 from 6-9 p.m. at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. Attendees will enjoy delicious food, music, and a special presentation from students of Kunjang University in South Korea as well as learn about APCC’s new building project. Tickets for the Anniversary Celebration can be purchased by contacting APCC at 253.383.3900.

Asia Pacific Cultural Center is a not-for-profit formed in 1996 with the mission to bridge communities and generations through art, culture, education, and business. It serves as an interactive cultural crossroads between local and international communities.

For Additional Information and Tickets


Evergreen State College Enters 50th Year

Next spring, the class of 2022 at The Evergreen State College will be its 50th graduating class. While it is tempting to look back on the last 50 years and relish in the accomplishments, the Board of Trustees is looking forward by naming new leadership and developing new academic programs.

Entering into a two-year interim position as President of The Evergreen State College is Dr. John Carmichael, a beloved staff member since 1998. Most recently the VP of Finance and Operations, Dr. Carmichael also received his BA and Masters of Administration degrees from Evergreen. He then received his Doctorate in Education and Human Resource Studies from Colorado State University.

In addition to Dr. Carmichael’s promotion to President, the Board of Trustees also hired Dr. Dexter Gordon as Executive Vice President. Formerly with the University of Puget Sound where he served as the Director of the African American Studies program, Dr. Gordon is a Dolliver NEH Distinguished Professor as well as the Founding Director of the University’s Race and Pedagogy Institute. Dr. Gordon holds a Doctorate in Rhetoric, Culture and African American Studies from Indiana University Bloomington.

According to Kelly Von Holtz, Public Relations and Marketing Manager at The Evergreen State College, “Everyone here at Evergreen is thrilled about our new leadership and really look forward to them leading us into our next 50 years.” She added, “We are so excited to have Dr. Gordon join us as he is such a complement to Dr. Carmichael’s proven leadership and history with the college.”

Carmichael and Gordon will be leading Evergreen faculty as they transition back to in-person learning and implement new tactics designed to enhance their degree programs. The faculty has organized a new curriculum with 11 new paths that have more structure but still contain a lot of interdisciplinary study. And, new to The Evergreen State College will be academic and professional certification programs.

For Additional Information


CARES Act Funding for Local Students

Many college students already pinch every penny to be able to pay for tuition and living expenses. Pile on the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions, and earning their degree became even more difficult.

Luckily, money from the CARES Act was earmarked to support students, including those at Bates Technical College in Tacoma. Through two funding phases, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund granted financial awards to current students at Bates Technical College. Some of the eligible expenses included tuition and fees, but also food, housing, health care and childcare. The goal of the grants was to cover expenses that affect a student’s ability to stay in college and complete their education.

One of those students was Jenae McCabe, a Tacoma native and student at Bates who enrolled in March 2020 just as the stay-at-home orders were put in place. According to McCabe, “I enrolled in Bates to improve my employment opportunities. I want to support myself and my 11-year old daughter through a job that allows me regular hours and a lifestyle where I’m not living paycheck to paycheck.”

Slated to graduate in June 2021 with an Associate Degree in Applied Science, McCabe had taken out a loan to assist her through her first two quarters. “When I heard from my co-workers that I was eligible for the HEERF grant, I knew I could stay and complete my degree,” she said.

McCabe used the grant money to pay for childcare, food, utilities and more. Before the HEERF grant, she doubted she was going to be able to finish school. Now, she has a job in the college’s financial aid office as a work-study student where she tells others about available money. “I’m spreading the word while working at the front desk, doing paperwork and data entry,” McCabe said with pride.

Following graduation, McCabe plans to put her work experience and education from Bates to use as an administrative assistant.

For Additional Information

Cascade Christian School Expands

Raising children that are prepared for life is a goal we all aspire to achieve.  At Cascade Christian Schools, it is their mission.  As a private Christian School District with 5 locations in Pierce County serving students 6 weeks old -12th grade, Cascade Christian is dedicated to helping students discover their potential.

“What is special, among many things at Cascade Christian, is we are developing discerning leaders in a culture where they feel known and valued,” said Rob Mitton, Director of Advancement at Cascade Christian.  He added that “our students will be spiritually, personally and academically prepared to impact their world.”

Many South Sound parents agree, and enrollment at Cascade Christian has been growing, creating a demand for more capacity.  With their three elementary schools nearly 100% full, Cascade Christian is making room for growth so that all incoming 7th graders have a seat in the junior high next fall and in the years to come.

When many local schools were closed, the team at Cascade Christian implemented the first phase of their multi-million-dollar expansion project at their Junior High and High School.  Their new 12,000-foot gymnasium was built by using existing resources and combining those resources with money from contributors, grants, foundations, and families.

With Phase 1 complete, the team moves on in their multi-phase project by getting ready to launch a feasibility study to fund the next phase.  Phase 2 includes 12 classrooms, administrative offices, the main entrance, lobby, and restrooms built within a 19,000-foot expansion.  

Projected in a few years, Phase 3 will see the addition of more classrooms and locker rooms based on need.  Improvements that are helping the team at Cascade Christian Schools better achieve their goal … Every Student, Every Day, Prepared.

The Cascade Christian Junior and Senior High School is located at 811 21st Street SE in Puyallup.  To learn more about Cascade Christian Schools, visit https://www.cascadechristian.org


Jacques Pépin French Celebrity Chef at Saint Martin’s Gala

Cooking legend Jacques Pépin will bring his wisdom and years of experience as the celebrity chef at Saint Martin’s University Gala on November 7th. Born in 1935 in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, near Lyon, Pépin always found the kitchen to be a place of both comfort and excitement. He helped in his parents’ restaurant, Le Pélican, and subsequently worked in Paris, ultimately serving as personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. 

After moving to the United States in 1959, Pépin first worked at Le Pavillon, a historic French restaurant in New York City. Jacques Pepin has received 16 James Beard Foundation Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. For the past 30 years, Pépin has taught in the Culinary Arts Program at Boston University. His love for teaching and imparting knowledge is obvious. 

“I want to give back the excitement and love of cooking. I also enjoy showing the kids that love and prosperity can come through the kitchen. We are now teaching technique and courses through video around the country,” says Pepin.

He is optimistic and lately his work has focused on families and cooking. “One of the good things that came out of this pandemic is that families were at home learning to cook and sitting down to share food together. Food and wine brings people together for conversations. It has forced us to get back to what is important,” says Pepin.

“My life has been about cooking and I impart that love to students. I’m very much looking forward to sharing that love over some great food at the Saint Martin’s Gala,” says Pepin. Robin Lucas

 To learn more and reserve your tickets to the Saint Martin’s Gala visit: 


Saint Martin’s University celebrates 125 years

Saint Martin’s University started 125 years ago when a group of Catholic Benedictine monks from Saint John’s Abbey in Minnesota came West to found a school. In 1895, the first student traveled 25 miles by canoe, Angus McDonald, from Shelton. Saint Martin’s was started as an all-boys high school and then transitioned to a college in 1938, and later Saint Martin’s University in 2005.

The University’s 125th anniversary will be celebrated with community events over 18 months starting with Saint Martin’s Alumni Homecoming festivities now through May 2021. Saint Martin’s has served as the gathering place for the community by hosting events, athletic games and cultural events for over a century.

“It is a milestone for any organization to reach their 125th anniversary and very important for all to celebrate this achievement,” said Saint Martin’s University President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D. “ We see this 125th year as an opportunity to connect the Saint Martin’s family of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and abbey members with a renewed commitment to excellence. Personally, I find this achievement as an opportunity to re-energize the community around our distinctive mission of serving others.”

The University is now a vibrant campus with approximately 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students pursuing degrees. Saint Martin’s offers 29 majors and 11 graduate programs on its Lacey campus and its extended campus on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The campus has also continued expanding with the opening of a new $10.7 million science center in spring 2019 and another renovation of a $3.5 million nursing education center set to open fall 2020.

125th Celebration campus, 125th, archives, yearbooks, campus, old photos

“We are so proud that our Saint Martin’s alumni go on to be engaged business and community leaders in the South Sound region and beyond,” said Genevieve Chan, vice president of marketing and communications. 

The University’s mission statement is: “Saint Martin’s University is a Catholic Benedictine institution of higher education that empowers students to pursue a lifetime of learning and accomplishment in all arenas of human endeavor. Saint Martin’s students learn to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others through the interaction of faith, reason, and service. The University honors both the sacredness of the individual and the significance of community in the ongoing journey of becoming.”

Celebrate this milestone anniversary with the Saint Martin’s community by visiting the website at www.stmartin.edu/125 and on the University’s official social media channels. By Nate Peters