Pierce Pioneer

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes new Vice President

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes its new Vice President of Learning and Student Success, Dr. Ilder Andres Betancourt Lopez, following an email announcement from PCFS’s President Julie White on June 3. Lopez is expected to join our Pierce community come August 2, 2021.

“[Lopez] brings a wealth of expertise to our work to create an anti-racist institution, in order to fulfill our mission at Pierce College: to provide quality educational opportunities to a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world,” White stated.

White further shares in an email announcement a biography provided by Lopez himself, which gives more insight into our new vice president. From his biography, it states that Lopez grew up in an impoverished area in Los Angeles, being born from undocumented, Latino immigrants.

“When Ilder entered Stanford University, he felt blessed but he also wondered how to best maximize the privilege,” White stated. “A career in the community colleges became the obvious answer. It was and still is the nexus of opportunity for many of his family members and peers.

“Throughout his career, Ilder applies an equity and social justice lens to all his leadership decisions. Ilder believes it is not our students that need to change but the institution that can change to better address the issues faced by our students. He has devoted his career working at the community college to fulfill this philosophy.”

Lopez is currently the Dean of Science at Bellevue College, where he has developed and overseen their division’s efforts to provide learning opportunities during the COVID pandemic. Some of Lopez’s work also includes providing culturally responsive teaching and services training to all employees through a partnership with Bellevue College and the national Puente Project.

Pierce College looks forward to welcoming its new vice president with open arms. In due time, students and staff alike will be able to get to know Lopez more personally as he becomes a part of the Pierce community.

Meet puyallup’s new president

Valerie Ettenhofer
Staff Writer

Beginning in July, Pierce College Puyallup students will see a friendly new face on campus. A statement released on May 9 named Dr. Marty Cavalluzzi as the next Puyallup campus president, ending a months-long search and hiring process that began screening applications in February.

Cavalluzzi, who currently works as Executive Vice President for Instruction at Edmonds Community College, enthusiastically shared his plans for next year. “I’m excited to start working with the faculty and staff and I’m excited to get to know the students,” he said, emphasizing his hope to meet as many as possible. “It really is all about the students.”

Though the final choice of potential employees was made by Chancellor Michele Johnson, the decision was carefully considered with a process that involved an application packet, an open forum and interviews over Skype and in person.

Johnson explained that the hiring process began with a national search and was ultimately narrowed down to an on-campus visit the final four potential presidents.

She noted that the visit included a meet and greet and a dinner, saying, “A lot of this job is having dinners and meeting with people and being able to engage socially and talk about college issues.”

Collette Burnette served as interim Puyallup president for this school year while the search for a permanent president was being organized. A screening committee and executive committee aided the Chancellor in the hiring process.

Cavalluzzi says he first became interested in the position after his boss told him she thought he was the perfect fit.

After mentally ticking off the provided list of 18 attributes and characteristics expected of a Pierce College administrator, Cavalluzzi thought, “This is a great fit for me. These are the things I like to do.”

The incoming president has been working at Edmonds Community College for nearly seven years, and previously served as the Dean of Science and Math at both Seattle Central Community College district and Bellingham’s Northwest Indian College.

He says that he was drawn to Pierce because it “has a long history of helping people realize and achieve their dreams,” citing the nonprofit, data-based student success program Achieving the Dream as one standout point in the Pierce College district.

Cavalluzzi also mentioned that he likes that Puyallup is a small campus, but is connected to a larger campus network that collaborates and is home to educators focused on success.

Johnson said that Cavalluzzi stood out in many ways, from his understanding of the way Pierce College runs to his loyalty, as well as references that vouched for his goal-oriented, team player approach to leadership.

The Chancellor shared that Cavalluzzi has a “tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm.”

Johnson also appreciates the great working relationship Cavalluzzi had with the student government at Edmonds Community College.

“[Pierce is] a nice place to land a first presidency,” Johnson said about the first-time campus president.

Before beginning his work in administration, Cavalluzzi himself attended community college. “It honestly helped me tremendously and changed the direction of my life,” he said.

After graduating with an Associate’s degree, he gained a PhD in Marine Science and worked as a faculty research assistant at Oregon State University in a project identifying endangered fish.

His time writing research grants led him to consider a new path: “It started to get to me because you write all these grants about, ‘these are all the great things I’m going to do with your money,’ and I just started wondering, is it really that great?”

Once Cavalluzzi began working on fishery programs with area tribes at Northwest Indian College, he took a different attitude toward grants, saying, “I absolutely loved it because it really wasn’t about me. It was, ‘look at all the great things these people are doing and what they will do with your support.’”

From there, Cavalluzzi fell into administration, a career change he embraced and called “accidental.”

Though Cavalluzzi hopes to increase scholarships and other support for Pierce College students, he stresses that student and faculty input is invaluable. “The biggest thing I’m going to do at the very beginning is listen, listen, listen,” he stated.

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