Pierce College’s new vice president of strategic advancement has spent most of his career working in or with community colleges. He says he appreciates how involved community colleges are with the areas around them.
Vice President Mike Wark started his job at Pierce in June but has been working in higher education for nearly 30 years. After graduating from Central Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, Wark started his career at South Puget Sound Community College as an information specialist.
“I would work with the news media doing radio interviews, sending out news releases and coordinating events,” Wark said.
Wark then became the director of college relations at The Evergreen State College Wark was hired at University of Washington Tacoma as the director of public relations and communications in 1998 and most recently served as assistant vice chancellor for external relations at the University of Washington Tacoma. He spent 20 years working for the University of Washington Tacoma and watching the city grow around him. He holds a master’s degree in higher education leadership and policy studies from the University of Washington. He then returned to his community college roots when joining Pierce College’s ranks.
“I really enjoyed working with the community college back when I started my career,” Wark says, “I was excited about an opportunity to go back to community college, particularly one like Pierce, which is doing such great work,” Wark said.
Wark is passionate about higher education and has dedicated his life to the cause. He spends his days working with many departments across campus to help improve the community for Pierce students.
“I look at the challenge people have in getting access to higher education whether it’s financial or understanding what their options are and spent my career looking at ways to help address that,” Wark said.
“Once someone earns a degree, it doesn’t just transform their lives, it tends to transform their family’s life for generations.”
As Vice President of Strategic Advancement, Wark participates in raising funds and talking to state legislators. Wark also works with the college’s marketing and communications department to help produce content online.
“That’s one of the things I like about this line of work. I can be doing different kinds of things every day of the week,” Wark said.
Wark will lead the district’s departments for institutional research and effectiveness, marketing and communications, and development. Growing up in Lacey, Washington, Wark has spent his life here in the Northwest.
He enjoys the cold weather because when it snows in the mountains, he can go skiing. He plays soccer year-round and is a Seattle Sounders fan. Wark said he looks forward to attending the college’s soccer games.
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