Board Seeks to Replace Departing Trustee

Clark’s Board of Trustees has been seeking to fill a vacancy since its newest member stepped down after ten months on the job.

Former Battle Ground mayor and longtime member of Clark County Fire and Rescue, Mike Ciraulo, accepted an offer to become the fire chief of Pendleton, Oregon.

Keith Swenson, Gov. Jay Inslee’s director of boards and commissions, screened and interviewed over 100 applicants down to a list of six that he will deliver to Inslee within the next few weeks.

The Board, comprised of five members, is tasked with setting Clark’s strategic direction, establishing policy, awarding tenure, approving the operating budget and hiring the college president. Trustees serve five-year terms and are appointed by the governor. The members must reside in one of the districts the college serves, and cannot be employees of the college.

“We always ask ourselves if we are putting the right talent in the right job,” Swenson said. “The governor is very inquisitive about the individuals seeking appointment. It’s not a fluid, quick process.”

Board Chairperson Jack Burkman, appointed in 2008, is the board’s most senior trustee.

“I don’t know anything about the background of the candidates,” Burkman said. “Historically, the board leaves the selection process up to the state.”

“It’s important the board is representative of all areas of the community,” Burkman said. “Our current board is made of members in education, business, social equity and community leadership.”

Clark College President Bob Knight
Clark College President Bob Knight. Although not a voting member, Knight is present at the Board of Trustees meetings.

Clark President Bob Knight said the ideal candidate would bring diverse experience in the areas of education and community involvement.

In 2012, the state legislature passed a bill which allows any college to establish a sixth trustee position to be filled by a full-time student in good academic standing to a one-year-term. The governor selects the student from a list of three to five students submitted by the student government of that college district. ASCC, Clark’s student government body, declined.

“We brought it to the students when the bill passed and weighed the pros and cons of filling the position, and they were not interested,” Knight said. “To me it’s more of a symbolic position because the student trustee would not vote on key issues, like hiring, discipline or tenure of faculty and personnel.”

A Clark student trustee would have all of the duties and power of a regular trustee, but would have had to excuse themselves from participation or voting on matters related to hiring, discipline, collective bargaining agreements or tenure of faculty and personnel.

“The students, Clark’s staff and the faculty sit on almost 30 committees together,” said Director of Student Life, Sarah Gruhler. “The students are well represented on campus and the board has always been receptive to what the students have to say.”

Board Vice Chair Jada Rupley’s second term began in January. Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed the former associate school superintendent in 2010.

Rekah Strong and Royce Pollard round out the rest of the board. Strong joined the board in 2012 and is the Chief Operating Officer of United Way in Portland. Pollard, appointed in 2010, served as mayor of Vancouver for six terms.


  1. This story popped up in my Google Alerts for Inslee. I’m waiting for my LTE to show up.

  2. Thank you for the feedback, Don. What does do you mean by LTE?

  3. What do you mean by LTE ***

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