In his role as Green River College’s interim president, Scott Morgan is focused on serving the community and the college’s students.
Morgan, 65, who retired as president of Spokane Community College last year, took over Green River’s top post in August, replacing Eileen Ely, who resigned in June, following months of unrest on campus.
“Since 1985, I have been working in and for community colleges and their students,” Morgan said. “When I retired, I told the state director (of community colleges) I still had a lot of energy, and if something temporary came up where I could help in a vice president role or president role, I would be interested in doing that.”
Morgan’s passion for the mission of community colleges led him to apply for the temporary position at Green River.
“I love community college,” he said. “I like what they do, how they serve their community, how they serve their students. … One of the things I think is one of the coolest is ‘Hey, I haven’t done very good in school before. I am now in a job that isn’t getting me anywhere. I’ve just been laid off. I’m going to try the college.’ The college can really help people like that, that really want to help themselves. … That is probably my favorite part of colleges.”
Aware of the issues at Green River over the past few years, Morgan said he thought he could help get the college back on track.
“I was a vice president at a college where the president left under not good circumstances,” he said. “I have been in a leadership position in a college that went through similar kinds of things. It didn’t frighten me. I have worked at colleges where things were a little edgy.”
As interim president, Morgan said his role is to help set the plate for the next president, who will be selected during the next year.
“I want to facilitate the process,” Morgan said. “I want to help the board find the best next president they can find. Before we get there, … the college needs to create a situation, a perception that it is a good place to go and be the president. That’s important if you want a good pool of candidates to be the president. … You need a good college that good candidates want to be the president of.”
There are a few issues Green River needs to address in the next year, Morgan said, one being enrollment.
“The enrollment of service to our local community – other than Running Start – has been gradually going down over time,” he said. “That’s a concern because it means our level of service to the community we serve has been going down. I want to examine that and see if we can’t do a better job of serving our community. That is what we are here for, that’s what we were created to do.”
While increasing enrollment is important, Morgan said, completion is also crucial.
“How are our students doing? Are they getting what they came here to get? Are they getting their Running Start credits? Are they getting their degree?” he said. “There’s a long way between coming here for a class and coming here for a degree. It’s not just about degree completion. It is about completing whatever your education plan was. I think we need to look at how we are doing there and to make some judgment about how we are doing and making some changes there.”
And he plans to look at diversity issues in the student population and employee base – a concern raised by students and faculty in recent months – and improve communication with the campus.
“We will see if I can communicate and create an atmosphere where everyone can communicate,” he said. “We are all in this together. This has been kind of a tense place. My job is to get the tension out so we can get down to the business of being a college.”
Communication with the local community is also important, Morgan said.
“I’m concerned – as anyone would be – about the impression we may have left in the community in the last year or so,” he said. “It is important for us to get the message out that we are a good college. We are here for our community. If you come here, you will get a good education. We are over whatever happened in the past. We are moving on.”