New Steps


After the office of instruction showed their music video “Rock of All Ages” a flash mob started at the front of the gym. The flash mob enticed members of staff, faculty, students and even members of the Clark College board of trustees to get up and dance.

On September 11, Clark College employees gathered in the O’Connell Sports Center gymnasium to kick off another academic year. Opening Day festivities are an annual tradition at the college, a time to recognize employees’ accomplishments and to reinvigorate the college community for the coming year.

This year, the day began on a more somber note than normal, as President Bob Knight took a moment to acknowledge that Opening Day happened to fall on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He noted that he had been in the O’Connell gym 12 years ago, playing an early-morning game of basketball, when he first learned of the attacks. Knight then asked the gathered crowd to hold a moment of silence in memory of the victims of September 11.

20130911_5170Knight then mapped out some of the challenges and changes the college would face in the coming year. He noted that after years of skyrocketing enrollments, numbers are starting to slip downward again, requiring staff in many departments to focus on recruitment and retention. The college is also gearing up to adopt ctcLink, a new collection of online systems being phased into use at all 34 Washington state community and technical colleges. And while the 3-percent pay cut that affected most college employees has ended, the college is still facing some budget difficulties, partly due to decreased enrollment and partly due to being underfunding by the state. For instance, the college’s new STEM Building was funded by the state–but at $4.5 million less than originally planned.

“I am confident that you will face these challenges and overcome them, just as well as you have done in the past,” Knight said, adding that the college would continue to rely on private support gathered by the Clark College Foundation, which is ending its $20 million Ensuring a Bright Future campaign next June.

Associate Vice President for Planning and Effectiveness Shanda Diehl spoke about another upcoming challenge: crafting the college’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. “Since we will use the strategic plan as a tool to make decisions, we need all of your feedback during its development,” she said, mapping out how that would take place.

But along with the talk of challenges and policies, there was also time for fun and high jinks. Traditionally, Opening Day includes a music video about the college, and this year it fell to the Office of Instruction to create the video. Titled “Rock of All Ages,” it drew cheers and laughter from the gathered employees–and, afterward, sparked an impromptu dance party that lured to the floor faculty, staff, Student Ambassadors, and even the three trustees in attendance.


Clark President Robert K. Knight presents French professor Doug Mrazrek with an award for 35 years of service to Clark College.

The event also was occasion for President Knight to award Presidential Coins to five employees, and for Human Resources to announce the recipients of the 2013 Exceptional Classified Staff Awards and to present service-anniversary awards to employees who had worked at the college for five, ten, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years. One employee, French professor Doug Mrazrek, received an award for 35 years at the college–as well as a standing ovation from the crowd. The event was also an opportunity to present plaques to the recipients of the 2012-2013 Exceptional Faculty Awards, whose names were officially announced during Commencement.


Photos: Clark College/Jenny Shadley

EDITED 9/30/13 to correct end date of Foundation campaign.