Wagnitz won't return as vice president
By Izzy Anderson - Staff Reporter
Interim President Dr. Jeff Wagnitz will not be returning to his old job as vice president of academic affairs when a new president is chosen, he announced last week.
The Board of Trustees had invited him to return to his old post, but Dr. Wagnitz said he is looking into new opportunities.
Dr. Wagnitz became acting and then interim president after Dr. Jack Bermingham retired in July 2017. The college has been searching for a new president ever since.
Dr. Wagnitz has been at Highline for 18 years, previously serving as dean of instruction before taking the vice president's job when Dr. Bermingham became president in 2007.
In a faculty meeting on May 10, Dr. Wagntiz expressed his decision to explore other opportunities aside from returning to this role.
"It certainly isn't that the job isn't attractive -- it is," Dr. Wagnitz said. "In fact, I'd say it's the best higher education job in the Pacific Northwest. In it, you get to work with spectacular students, a dynamic community, an exceptionally strong and innovative faculty, and a solid administrative and executive team."
He said that since he began serving as interim president, the leadership has taken the position in a new direction, one which should be allowed to flourish, not restarted.
"Probably the biggest consideration for me is that, in my nearly two years away from the job, it has evolved in new directions under the leadership of Dr. [Rolita] Ezeonu, Executive Dean [Alice] Madsen, and Interim Dean [Raegan] Copeland. That momentum should be given space to continue, rather than being [reversed]," Dr. Wagnitz said. "Finally, personally, I'm ready to try new things."
Dr. Wagnitz said he is currently open to a number of different paths this next step could lead him to.
Whether it's playing a different role in the educational system, assisting the surrounding community, or focusing in on his own family life.
"I remain very inspired by the community college mission and the role that our campuses play in their communities. I hope to contribute more to those efforts," he said. "I might pursue other interim leadership positions, consulting, teaching, or agency work in Olympia, where I live. If none of those pans out, being a professional grandpa wouldn't be a bad option."