By MarJean Knokey, former director, Columbia College-Whidbey Island

While it feels like just yesterday, a little over 21 years ago I walked into Building 126 on the Whidbey Island installation to help launch the new location for Columbia College. Building 126, which is now long gone, was a pre-fab World War II-era facility that came with all of the issues of a “temporary” building long past its prime.

Not prime office or classroom spaces, yet the facility did not detour our mission to offer higher educational opportunities to the men and women of the U.S. Navy and surrounding community. The fledgling campus with hard work and a little luck continued to grow, awarding 1,424 degrees to date. It should be noted, the number of degrees offered is only one indicator of the number of students served at the location, as our composition of active-duty members is transitory.

In the first few sessions of Academic Year 2001, four faculty members joined the college, and two are still teaching with us today: Patricia Hernandez (accounting) and James Kotschwar (business ethics and law). Stan Stanley (business management and economics) sadly passed away this year, and Bill Bloch (math) retired.

MarJean Knokey, Whidbey Iland
MarJean Knokey, former director, Columbia College-Whidbey Island

Randy Wall (Finance) helped open the location and now teaches for Columbia College. They’re just a few of the many outstanding faculty and staff who have proudly passed through the location.

Time passed, faculty and staff changed, and the facility did not matter, yet the mission remained the same! Now it is time for me to retire and to let the next director, Dr. Darin Hand, take the helm… time to say goodbye.

I will definitely miss staff, faculty, students, and main campus colleagues all while knowing the mission to serve students is still the mantra for the location. The mission has not changed for Columbia College in 170 years, but a lot of faces and stories have changed… come write your story at this venerable institution of higher education.

I will miss you, but the next administrators will take excellent care to serve your mission.