Dr. Timothy Stokes, President
Photo courtesy: SPSCC
Commissioner Sandra Romero’s guest at her monthly Yelm coffee chat today was Dr. Timothy Stokes, President of South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC). She introduced him as having assumed the post Feb. 1, 2013, coming there from the Executive VP for Academic and Student Affairs at Tacoma Community College. Prior to his tenure at Tacoma, Stokes served as vice president for Student Learning at Texas State Technical College and executive director of the Southwest Arkansas Technology Learning Center at Henderson State University. He holds a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arkansas, a M.A. in Political Science/Public Administration from the University of Arkansas, and a B.A. in English from Lyon College.
The audience was comprised of a an unusually larger group for one of these monthly chats, and from a cross-section of our community, who after his very informative presentation, engaged Dr. Stokes in a wide-ranging and robust Q & A session.
Key facts Dr. Stokes presented:
– 14,000 unique students enrolled,
– 50% of students attend to obtain credits or a degree to transfer to a 4-year school,
– In-State tuition and Fees = $4,470 per year,
– Thurston County high schools have a graduation rate of 83%, which is very good,
– 40% of students attend to acquire skills to go directly into the workforce,
– When he came aboard in early 2013, 400-450 students were returning Vets, over 950 now, and highlighted the Veteran’s Center on the Lacey Campus,
– The Advanced Manufacturing Program on the Lacey Campus has a model 3-d printing center with $1.4 million invested in equipment, making this a competitive resource for Boeing and other companies looking for skilled talent in the South Sound,
– SPSCC made an error 5 years ago in not investing resources in sustainable agriculture, so is working to become a leading in this field of study,
– The Corporate Training Center is one of the few in the country,
– Students received a reboot to their careers and a restart in employment by attending SPSCC after downsizing when the 2008 recession hit.
– SPSCC interfaces students with Thurston County’s Diamond Technology Innovations (DTI), as an example.
I asked about his school’s greatest challenge.
His response was reduced appropriations from the state to higher education is the number one issue, that the federal dollars keep coming, however the state Constitution mandates funding K-12, not higher education, which means SPSCC gets reduced state dollars in lean budgetary years.
I also asked about a the potential of Yelm classes.
He said that 3 years ago, there were 40 students from Yelm now there are 200. With 500 students, that would sustain a satellite campus here, which would also draw students from SW Pierce County. He said he spoke with Mayor Harding who said a new classroom annex building could be constructed adjacent the new community center, connected by a breezeway, as Harding told him he always envisioned. Mr. Harding told Dr. Stokes the original plan for classrooms in the Yelm Community Center was removed [when the center was voted down twice on ballot measures, and the square footage was reduced to a third of the original 10,000 sq feet]. Harding suggested Dr. Stokes request funding in Yelm from the state legislators, which he indicated he has done.
– The Thurston County Chamber of Commerce VOICE Magazine featured Dr. Stokes, Summer 2013.
Be sure to checkout his vision for SPSCC!