We took the news of Rich Cummins’ departure from Columbia Basin College with a mix of emotions — a sense of sadness to lose such a leader and visionary from our community’s higher education system; admiration for Cummins’ decision to take on a new role with a new institution; and, mostly, gratitude for all he has done for higher learning, generations of students in the Tri-Cities and the community in general.
Cummins’ leadership and vision have truly changed the face of higher education in our community by looking at the big picture. He has done that through cooperative efforts with four-year institutions and pathways to bachelor’s degrees, having the foresight to see the value in reinvigorating skills-specific training tracks (think nursing, nuclear, agriculture, etc.), or blowing up the perception that most folks once had of community colleges.
And Cummins did not just share his leadership with CBC. He has been involved in numerous boards and community service organizations, bringing the value of his thoughtful, reasoned and kind approach to the betterment of many.
He has been a part of the evolution of CBC, starting as a faculty member in 1990 and becoming its leader in 2008. “When I came to CBC, it had a lot more dirt and tumbleweeds,” he said. “The college has just grown, both in size and its impact in the community.”
Cummins’ time at CBC will end with the month of March. He’ll take over as Chancellor of WGU Washington in April.
The move to Western Governor’s University will see Cummins move to the west side of our state. But he plans to be a frequent visitor to the Tri-Cities and is excited to further his career at WGU.
“The mission, which is about expanding access to education, is everything that I’ve done my whole life,” he said. “I’m excited to part of an innovation in education. Competency-based higher education, I believe, is the wave of the future.”
The folks at CBC have big shoes to fill. Our community is invested of the vision of CBC and in its students. We want to see a transparent hiring process where feedback is welcomed. It is a pivotal moment in CBC’s history with big initiatives on the horizon and a mission to be carried out. An exceptional leader is needed to carry on the groundwork that is set and build upon it for the future.
CBC is a shining star in the world of higher education and it demands a leader to match.