Daniel Pollock, Editor-in-Chief
Darrell Cain was announced as the new president of Pierce College Puyallup on May 7 in a district-wide email from Chancellor Michele Johnson.
Cain was a first-generation student who began his higher education at community college.
“He is the community college story,” Johnson said. “He clearly knows what our students endure.”
At the beginning of his college career, Cain moved in with his aunt, who lived in Pasadena, and enrolled in just one class at Pasadena City College. He thought he was going to become a real estate agent.
Then he failed the class.
He decided to abandon a real estate career, and enrolled in more classes. With help from student services and tutoring, Cain finished his term with a B in English. That’s when he realized maybe he could get a degree.
Now with a bachelor’s degree in business, a master’s degree in college student personnel administration and a doctorate in education leadership and policy studies, Cain is coming to Pierce from Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, Indiana.
At Ivy Tech, Cain was vice chancellor for student affairs. He has also worked at the University of Maryland, Eastfield College in Texas among other schools.
Cain has experienced rural and urban campuses; Johnson said this experience was beneficial as Pierce serves rural and urban students. Cain has worked in both student services and instruction.
Cain works with the Achieving the Dream Pathways Program at the national level; Pierce is implementing the Pathways program in fall quarter. And his time at Ivy Tech introduced him to Starfish, a Pathways-related monitoring program Pierce is also in the process of implementing.
“Dr. Cain comes with a very broad base of experiences,” Johnson said. “He’s worked in some good systems.”
Cain is on the chamber of commerce and workforce board in Indianapolis and is involved in the Boys and Girls Club.
“He has a lot of involvement and activity in the community and that is what the president needs to do,” Johnson said.
Cain is Pierce’s first permanent African-American president.
Colette Pierce Burnette, who was an interim president in 2012, was also African-American.
Johnson said Cain’s African-American heritage was an “added bonus” to his qualifications.
“I think he brings a different perspective to our team,” Johnson said. “We need a different perspective.”
Cain heard of the position from a friend who lives in Seattle. He said the decision to move to Washington was easy for him, but harder for his wife—an elementary school teacher—and their two children.
Cain says, outside of work, he enjoys hiking, golfing, trying new restaurants, and watching Marvel films.
Johnson isn’t concerned that Cain isn’t familiar with Washington’s education system; she said part of her mentorship role will be to instruct Cain on the system.
“I see it as an opportunity to diversify our own team by bringing in ideas from other parts of the country,” Johnson said.
Cain, who also applied to Spokane Falls Community College, said the dedication to students and learning he saw in the staff and faculty drew him to Pierce.
“They were very authentic in terms of helping students succeed,” Cain said of the employees he met during his campus visit.
Cain also works as an assistant professor while working in administration.
He says he’s passionate about education.
“I don’t call it a job. I call it my purpose,” Cain said.
Cain will begin work at Pierce on or before August 1.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
Pollock is a Running Start student in his second year at Pierce, pursuing an AA degree. After Pierce, he plans to transfer to a 4-year university.
Beyond journalism, Pollock also writes short stories, personal essays and screenplays. He is found cooking and eating food, writing, making movies and playing piano as often as his schedule allows. He also is a latte advocate and self-proclaimed film anthropologist.
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