Clark Administrator Pursues College President Aspirations: Tim Cook Finalist for Clackamas College President

There might be one less bow tie on campus starting this summer, as Clark’s Vice President of Instruction Tim Cook is one of four finalists competing for president of Clackamas Community College in Oregon.

Presidential Search Committee leader Amanda Coffey said the new president will be announced this spring.

. Current president Joanne Truesdell announced her retirement after 10 years according to a CCC press release.

Cook, who has worked at Clark for 21 years, said he’s known for about 10 years he would someday pursue becoming a college president. While Cook hopes to get the job, he said, he would miss Clark.

“I feel like I grew up here,” he said. “I have a lot of friends here, all my kids have grown up while I was working here, so it wouldn’t be easy … It’s not like I’m looking to leave or get out of a bad situation, it’s just that I’m at the point of looking at opportunities. We’ll see how it works out, but I have nothing to lose.”

Vice President of Administrative Affairs Bob Williamson said Cook will be missed if he leaves, citing his leadership in Clark’s Guided Pathways transition.

“But he is ready to be a president,” Williamson said. “Whether it’s at Clackamas or another institution.”

After applying this summer, Cook interviewed in November and was named a finalist in December, along with applicants from Phoenix College, Portland Community College and Cuyahoga Community College.

“He has many years of experience in executive leadership that matches the needs and values at Clackamas,” Coffey said.

Cook said he thinks his roots in the Clackamas area also help his candidacy.

“I know the college pretty well,” he said. “I still know people affiliated with the school, I know local superintendents and businesspeople, so that’s a big part of hitting the ground running.”

As a part of the final selection process that Coffey described as “robust,” Cook was the first finalist to spend two full days, Jan 17 and 18, on CCC’s three campuses, meeting with administrators, board members, student leaders, representatives from the staff, part-time faculty and full-time faculty unions and hosting a forum where he introduced himself and answered audience questions.

“I was tired at the end of it, but I had a lot of energy during,” Cook said.

Cook also answered questions about his commitment to students, his history mediating with unions, how he’s addressed diversity issues, community-building and promoting bonds. He related each issue to his education and experience as a college administrator, including the creation of Clark’s office of Diversity and Equity, union contract negotiations and Clark’s switch to a Guided Pathways model, a move Coffey says Clackamas is in the early stages of.

Cook said the only surprising question was whether he thought campus security officers should carry guns. “I would need to get to know more about the individual security needs of the campus to make that judgement,” he answered.

“I think it’s big that I’m from Washington,” Cook said. “We tend to be a bit ahead of most of the nation in terms of our initiatives and what we’re doing, so they’re starting some of the things we’ve been doing for a few years.”

When asked what his first year would look like, though, Cook said it would be “not too exciting.”

“If you can give me a positive review at that point, I hope it’s that I know everyone here well and I know what they do for the college,” he said. “That’s the foundation for a good presidency.”

After the two-day visit, Coffey collected comment cards from everyone who met Cook. She said she will assemble a summary of the comments to present the Board of Education, which will make the hire.

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