Presidential Finalist Mark Mitsui

By John Ostgarden|May 23, 2016News|

Mark Mitsui has been Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges at the United States Department of Education since 2013.  As that position is one appointed by the President, his position will be probably end next January, and he has applied for positions other than PCC.  MItsui was a finalist for “Chancellor” of Seattle Colleges, but that job was awarded to another candidate in April.

He had an active career at Community Colleges in Washington, working as President of North Seattle Community college and holding other positions at and South Seattle and Green River Community Colleges, and as faculty at Renton Technical College.

Mitsui’s duties at the Dept. of Education include representing the administration in its goals for college access and completion, financial literacy, equity and STEM education.  During his Presidency, North Seattle was one of 12 schools selected by the University of Pennsylvania as a “Model of Success” for serving minority students. His work at South Seattle also was recognized for serving minority students.  Earlier in his career he was chosen “Outstanding Faculty” by his peers, and started a newsletter for the union.

  1. Describe a time you made a difference in a student’s life.

Around 2002, I was the Director of Student Success and Retention Services at North Seattle College and  I used to administer the Emergency Fund. This was a fund that provided emergency financial assistance to students when they had an unanticipated emergency that threatened to cause them to drop out. Students often said that the fund made it possible for them to stay in school and graduate. I think Student Services professionals have many stories like this.

I think one of the most gratifying moments for any teacher is when students come back after they graduate to let you know how they are doing and tell you how your teaching impacted their lives. I remember one student in particular who had a rough start in life and despite many obstacles graduated, got a good job and eventually started a family. He came back to speak to a new cohort of students and I remember being incredibly proud of him. I am sure many teachers have similar stories.

When I was a college president, I led the completion of a project started by my predecessor called the Opportunity Center for Employment and Education. This was a brand new building where public benefits and services were integrated in order to help move people out of poverty through education and employment opportunities. I know of people who came to the center in dire straits, received assistance, entered the college, graduated and found family wage careers. I did not provide the support services to these students, or teach them, but I got to shake their hands when they crossed the stage at commencement and know that as a community, we made a difference in the lives of these students.

  1. What role do I see for a student newspaper?

Student newspapers play a key role in keeping the student body informed of important campus developments and issues. Newspapers also play a key role in forming and maintaining a sense of community by reporting on issues that are important to the community. And student newspapers play a key role in informing the college administration of key issues that are priorities for students. Student newspapers are also an important opportunity for students to develop their skills in the field of journalism.

  1. Would you tell our students something about yourself that is not in your official biography?

My parents were forcibly removed to American internment camps during WW II. They lost much of what their families had earned after a lifetime of hard work. After the war they made their way to college and found a new future for themselves and by extension me and my siblings. Their journeys from Tule Lake and Hart Mountain to the University of Washington changed their lives and mine as well and forever underscored for me the transformative power of education. It is that transformative power of education that drew me to work in the community and technical colleges. It is my parent’s experience that motivates my work in promoting diversity, inclusion and equity.

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