“It’s time for the goodbye and farewell,” said Veronica Brock.
With 30 minutes left in the Business and Health Sciences Unit Zoom call, this opening statement started with a small, informal announcement by Brenda Walstead, dean of the Business and Health Sciences unit at Clark College.
Walstead, 64, announced her retirement to friends and colleagues, a wealth of whom joined during these last moments to say goodbye.
Formally retiring after fall quarter, Walstead looks to move to Arizona, where she can be near her children and closer to nature. For many faculty, her departure constitutes both the retirement of a good friend and the absence of around 26 years of history and accomplishments
Many in the Zoom call were teary-eyed, with some struggling to find the words to speak. But no one struggled to express their joy at having worked with the dean.
Colleagues know Walstead as a hard worker and someone who made themselves available to anyone in her department. To some, she is a friend and advocate. Kristi Taylor knows Walstead as a mentor.
“Her guidance [through the Dental Hygiene Program] made me realize my decision to go into education was the right direction,” said Taylor, dental hygiene professor at Clark. “Her enthusiasm and excitement for teaching was contagious and made me excited to go in that same direction.”
Taylor felt confidence in her career path thanks to Walstead, and it was this confidence that prepared her for the role of interim program director of dental hygiene in July 2015.
“I will never be able to thank her for all she has done for me personally and professionally,” said Taylor.
When she first became part of Clark’s faculty, Walstead started as an adjunct professor in dental hygiene, successfully taking on greater responsibility over the years.
In one of her most notable accomplishments, she led the first Baccalaureate of Applied Science at Clark College. In fact, this Baccalaureate, which was in dental hygiene, was the first of its kind in Washington state.
Soon after, she became dean of Business and Health Sciences, helping to facilitate interdisciplinary learning at Clark through events such as the Healthy Penguin Walkabout. During this event, where students and community members could walk around campus, take health assessments, enter raffle drawings, collect souvenirs and partake in educational activities.
“…[The Healthy Penguin Walkabout] was a prime example showcasing the benefits of interprofessional education while providing a valuable service to the community,” said Brock, health professor at Clark, “Brenda has always been a champion of our program, Health and Physical education, and the positive impacts HPE instruction has on students health.”
Brock also adds that Walstead “walks the talk,” prioritizing her own physical health through running, swimming, and kayaking.
Of all of her accomplishments, the Zoom call revealed a group of faculty who know and appreciate the dean, and who reflected fondly on the work done for her unit and for each of them.
“Thank you for being such a great friend and mentor,” Armetta Burney, interim dean of workforce and professional technical education and STEM said. “The passion and commitment to your work that you have demonstrated over the years that I have had an opportunity to work with you has been exemplary and a great model to follow. Thank you for being who you are, thank you for being such a genuine friend and colleague, I am so happy for you as you turn the page and start this new chapter in your life. I will miss you.”
“You guys are in good hands,” Walstead remarked before everyone said their goodbyes. “It’s been a great journey. Thank you.”