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President Biden's 4/22/2022 visit to Green River College / message from the president

By Suzanne M. Johnson, April 25, 2022

Dear Green River College Community -

What an amazing day for Green River College! President Joe Biden visited Green River College on Friday April 22 as part of his official visit to Washington State. Governor Inslee, Senators Cantwell and Murray, and Representative Schrier spoke before President Biden delivered remarks in the Student Union.

President Biden began his remarks by saying that First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is an English professor at a community college in Virginia. “I believe she’s the only First Lady ever to work full-time” Biden said and added “that’s why she’s not with me today.” Both President and First Lady Biden know first-hand that community colleges are critical engines for building back better.

“This is a great college,” Biden said. “It really is.”

Green River is a great college. All of you collaboratively and collectively have made this college what it is. President Biden’s visit prompts us to reflect on our collective points of pride here at Green River.

  • Green River College plays a vital role in workforce and economic development
    • Our career and technical programs, including nine applied baccalaureate programs, produce workforce-ready graduates that contribute to the economic development of the region and the state.
    • Our Nursing Program is in the process of developing an LPN to BSN pathway. This work is being supported by a $1.8 million Premera Blue Cross grant shared among three other colleges.
    • To fill the critical nursing shortage, Biden urged support “to help colleges like this one train and prepare the next generation of nurses and healthcare workers.” Biden and the audience cheered Green River’s nursing faculty and students during Friday’s event.
  • Green River College serves diverse local and global communities
    • One in five service area residents are born outside of the U.S. and 30% speak languages other than English at home.
    • South King County is home to many Ukrainians. Washington state has the third largest population of Ukrainians after New York and California.
    • Green River hosts 772 international students, at this point, from over 50 countries (Fall 2021) and ranks 11th in the US among the almost 1,200 community colleges in international student enrollment.
    • Green River was the 2013 recipient of the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.
  • Green River College meets students where they are
    • Green River offers multiple entry points and degree options. Nearly half (48%) of Green River enrollments are transfer students; over a third (36%) are in career and technical education programs; 12% in basic education for adult programs; and hundreds of students are enrolled in applied baccalaureate programs.
  • Green River College was recognized as a top 150 U.S. community college by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program
    • The Aspen institute has chosen to focus intensively on community colleges because they are—as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stated at the 2021 Aspen Prize ceremony— “a powerful engine of prosperity.”

President Biden’s visit coincided with Earth Day. Earlier on Friday at Seward Park in Seattle, President Biden signed an executive order to preserve old growth forests. How fitting it was that the next stop would be Green River College with our beautiful green campus with flowering rhododendrons and towering cedar trees. Our campus provides a wonderful environment to learn and grow. Green River also has an outstanding Natural Resources program, including a bachelor’s in applied science in forest resource management.

I want to extend my deep appreciation for everyone who helped make this event possible. A special thanks to George Frasier, vice president of advancement, with close support from Tawnya McLavey, executive assistant and visitor’s program manager, as well as members of the planning committee: Cathy Alston, Shirley Bean, Roseann Berg, Mark Brunke, Chris Carlson, Deb Casey, Dani Crivello-Chang, Phil Denman, Rolita Ezeonu, Ed Hari, KaraLynn LaValley, John McCormick, Suzanne McCudden, Camella Morgan, Rob Olson, Derek Ronnfeldt, Wendy Stewart, and Su Hoon Tan.

This was an exciting day for the college and the communities we serve! Our future is bright Green River. Through excellence in teaching and learning, we will continue to fulfill our mission:

Green River College welcomes our diverse local and global communities and is committed to meeting students where they are by providing inclusive, equitable access to innovative and comprehensive educational programs, and individualized support that empowers and prepares students to achieve their personal, educational, and career goals.

With gratitude…Suzanne

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