Walla Walla Community College Finalizes Selection of President


Dr. Derek Brandes

Dr. Derek Brandes

At a special meeting held June 8, the Walla Walla Community College Board of Trustees formalized its selection of Dr. Derek Brandes as the college’s next president with an annual salary of $190,000 and a July 1, 2016 start date. Dr. Brandes was chosen through an extensive search process from an initial pool of 40 candidates.

Currently serving as the Vice President of Instruction at Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington, Dr. Brandes has also spent significant time in Eastern Washington working at Columbia Basin College and Washington State University Tri-Cities. He brings substantial experience in academic and workforce training programs, development of new and innovative degree opportunities, student service efforts, community collaboration and resource development.

A passionate advocate for community colleges and the students they serve, Dr. Brandes’ personal mission is, “to make a difference for students and communities through innovative student-centered programs and practices.” He aspires to “create an environment where the entrepreneurial efforts of the college community are nurtured, encouraged, and realized.”

Dr. Brandes holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communications, and a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Washington State University.

Miguel Sanchez, Chairman of the Walla Walla Community College Board of Trustees, said of the selection, “Everything we have heard about Derek has been positive.  I believe he is a genuinely good human being who has a great vision for education and the community college system.”

As chair of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and a member of the college’s Board of Trustees, Darcey Fugman-Small oversaw the search process.  Darcey said, “Derek’s professional experiences and his demeanor align perfectly with Walla Walla Community College.  It is clear that he will be a good match with our institution. His education and professional experiences give him a strong foundation.”

Dr. Brandes is joined by his family; wife Cate, a Washington State University alum and K-12 educator, and 9 year old son Dawson.  Dr. Brandes spent the majority of his childhood in the Tri-Cities area and is a graduate of Hanford High School.  He and Cate agree that moving back to Eastern Washington feels like coming home.  When asked about her husband’s new appointment, Cate shared, “I am so proud of Derek and all he has accomplished. Our family is excited for our next adventure and looking forward to moving back to the East side of the state!”

Community involvement has been a constant for Dr. Brandes throughout his professional life.  He has served in several leadership roles in each of the communities in which he has resided.  Most recently, Dr. Brandes served as the Chairman of the Board for the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce.  He has been a participant in the Auburn Kiwanis Club and on the Board of Directors for the Green River College Foundation.  In the Columbia Basin Dr. Brandes served on the Benton-Franklin Community Health Alliance Community Council, on the Pasco School District Board of Directors and on the Kennewick School District New High School Advisory Committee.

Dr. Brandes brings with him a wealth of experience from his most recent role as the Vice President of Instruction at Green River Community College.  There he worked with faculty and staff to develop and implement five new applied baccalaureate degrees.  He has worked closely with area school districts to create opportunities for youth engagement and college certification within the schools.  George Frasier, Executive Director of Development at Green River Community College, said, “Derek is going to be a fabulous president.  I wish him every success and know that we are going to miss him here at Green River.”

Dr. Brandes will succeed Dr. Steven VanAusdle who is retiring after 45 years of employment at Walla Walla Community College, 31 of which were served as President. Dr. VanAusdle is pleased with the Board’s decision and shared, “Derek has my unqualified support. I think you’ve got a great President on your hands. I believe he will not only continue the successes of Walla Walla Community College but also build on them while keeping student success at the core of our work.”

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