WCC Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence

WCC Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence

October 17, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


President Kathi Hiyane-Brown: I would love
to go back in time to see what Whatcom was like 50 years ago because it seems as if you
had a group of very dedicated, kind of out-of-the-box, thinkers. Susan Mancuso, faculty/dean for student services
(1973-1995): One of the things that I don’t think people know was how extraordinarily
innovative it was. It was the first community college without
walls in the country. Doug Mooers, math professor (1986-2015): The
faculty tried to design anything that would support student success. Susan Mancuso: My job description was very
short: Never say no to students. So the way that it grew was people just having
ideas. Doug McKeever, geology professor (1971-2014):
The College started in ’67 and we didn’t have any classes actually until I believe
1970. One of the first classes was a program in
farm management. Stan Brunner, Board of Trustees (1969-1976):
I already knew of Floyd Sandell and that was our first faculty and first class. Susan Mancuso: There was a singlewide trailer
on the property of Ferndale High School. Bernie Thomas, Board of Trustees (1985-1995):
We had a mailbox out in front of the trailer and that was Whatcom Community College. It sort of branched out into a number of other
venues around the county. We had liquor stores and an abandoned grocery
store on Marine Drive. Stan Brunner: We had our first building in
Ferndale and it was kind of curious that the state liquor store was on one side of it. When we leased the building, we found that
bats had gotten into the attic and we hauled out about twenty wheelbarrow loads of bat
crap. Doug Mooers: Whatcom was a non-traditional
college so we would have people wander into the math lab after having been absent for
five years saying that they wanted to take their next test. So we would look up their name in the file
and pull out the name, see where they were, and give them their tests. Sally Bakken, typing pool, instruction office,
personnel office (1975-2001): When Bill Laidlaw became president it became a more formal institution,
which it needed to be. It went from the Wild West where you could
wear whatever you wanted and pretty much do what you wanted to a much more formal setting. Bernie Thomas: A number of us as trustees
knew about how emphatic our former trustees, upon whose shoulders we were standing, at
the time felt very very very profoundly and deeply that the college needed to be in the
community, not in some sort of ivory tower. Sally Bakken: The idea at the beginning was
a good idea but it was time for a campus. Tim Douglas, Board of Trustees (2008-present),
Bellingham mayor (1984-1995, 2006-2007): And it was a very positive thing for the north
part of Bellingham because there was so little that had already been developed here and there
was such a need for an anchor. Cliff Baacke, dean for administrative services
(1989-2000): When I came, the College was just finishing its first year in the Laidlaw
Center and had thought originally that’s all they would need. Susan Mancuso: Literally the first day we
opened and I walked out into the hallway I was in shock, as were many others, because
there were students who were 18 to 21 year olds and we hadn’t seen that before. Cliff Baacke: We went from being the oldest
average age student when we were a college without walls, to the youngest in the state. Bernie Thomas: The accessibility of having
this campus here and the friendly outward going nature of the personnel that are always…that
have been kind of the hallmark of all of our personnel at Whatcom Community College that
I can ever think of, exist today as it did then. Grace Jones, associate director for outreach:
I have seen over and over again students that have said: I would not have made it had it
not been for your help, for this faculty member, for this club I was in. Ines Poblet, assistant professor, English
as a second language academic: I know this is going to sound strange but you’re allowed
to fail, you’re allowed to try, you’re allowed to ask. It’s a place where all of that is possible
and imagine the wonderful things you can do when that’s accepted. Grace Jones: We want students to succeed and
a huge part of that is hearing them. Trish Onion, vice president for student services
(1996-2014): Student leaders were instrumental in development of the computer labs and the
student center and the Student Recreation Center. President Kathi Hiyane-Brown: I think our
visibility within the community has increased and it’s not just about the place. It’s not about the buildings. Barbara Rofkar, Board of Trustees (2004-present):
Responding to community needs is what we are all about. Bernie Thomas: Whatcom Community College stands
as a beacon for a change, a necessary change, in peoples’ lives. Doug Mooers: This is what I tell every student:
It’s not me that is contributing to your success. It’s the fact that you believe in yourself. Steve Adelstein, Board of Trustees (2006-present):
Students who may otherwise not feel that they’ve had very good opportunities in life have those
opportunities. Grace Jones: If you know what you want to
study, we have wonderful academic planning to put you on a track to get to the university,
to the next level. If you don’t know what you want to study,
we have fantastic resources for you to figure out where your interests lie. John Pedlow, Board of Trustees (2015-present):
I saw the impact that the College has on students and especially at times in their lives when
that’s so important. Susan Mancuso: There’s a culture here that
is known in the community that it’s accessible and people will support their success here. Doug McKeever: Every morning as I eagerly
biked to work I would ponder the question: How can I best serve my students today? Tim Douglas: We never know what tomorrow is
really going to be like but a college that wants to address things as they change, to
make sure that we’re producing students that are ready to tackle the problems of today
and tomorrow. Ed Harri, Interim vice president for instruction:
They’re incredible people that we get to play a small role in helping them at kind of formative
stage in their life. Morgan Guthrie, student studying computer
information systems: It changed the way I think, not just what I think but how I think. I am Whatcom because I am progress. I am determination. I am growth. I am all those things because Whatcom walks
that journey with me.