SPSCC makes room for new presidency

After meeting each of the presidential candidates during their campus tour, the South Puget Sound Community College Board of Trustees decided to offer the position to Timothy Stokes who previously worked as the executive vice president for academic and student affairs at Tacoma Community College.

According to Dean of College Relations Kellie Braseth, the board’s unanimous vote in favor of Stokes was due in part to the “personal warmth and keen knowledge of community college issues” he displayed. Regarding his connection with our campus, Braseth said that he is familiar and passionate about the issues surrounding diversity and equity that maintain significance at SPSCC.

At Tacoma Community College, Stokes oversaw various diversity initiatives, such as SafeZone. He also worked on a multicultural committee that included community members.

As the president of SPSCC, Stokes said he intends to first “figure out and understand campus dynamics.” Regarding diversity initiatives, he plans to begin a conversation about improving the success rates among minority students and “close the achievement gap.”

Stokes said he wants to also continue the work of the former president Gerald Pumphrey to bring new technology on campus. He hopes to implement programs that help students learn how to best navigate the college and to use all available resources.

Following the appointment of Stokes, the board began to finalize his contract and to establish his start date, said Braseth. In order to facilitate a smooth transition, the new president was invited to participate in the recent retreats of the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board of Directors. Additionally, a time was established for Stokes to meet with the president’s executive staff, Braseth said.

The last step in the process was to officially bid farewell to SPSCC’s retiring president, Gerald Pumphrey. On Jan. 25, the college hosted a farewell barbeque for Pumphrey. Open to students, staff, and community members, the party commemorated Pumphrey’s time working as the president.

Pumphrey, in the midst of various admirers queuing up to say their goodbyes, said that to the students especially, he is grateful for how welcomed he was at the school.

“The relationships I’ve had with students matter as much as anything from my whole experience here,” Pumphrey said.

Pumphrey explained that there will be some things he will definitely miss, some things he does not yet know he will miss, and things he will not miss at all about his time at SPSCC. He anticipates it being hard not participating in the daily contact with students his work here demanded. “Students are the hope for our future,” he said.

For his retirement, Pumphrey is most looking forward to the newfound control he will have over his own time.