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Forging a New Era in Higher Education

Dr. L Marshall Washington

July 1, 2018, marked the start of a new era for Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Kalamazoo Valley). On this date, L. Marshall Washington, Ph.D. began his tenure as the college’s third president.

With the one-year anniversary of his start on the horizon, KzooConnect sat down with Dr. Washington to discuss the past year.

Prior to his current role, Dr. Washington served as president at New River Community and Technical College in West Virginia. According to him, coming to serve at Kalamazoo Valley was like returning home.

“I lived in Battle Creek for 15 years and worked at Kellogg Community College (Kellogg),” he said. “I have lots of friends here so it’s great to be back.”

During his time at Kellogg, Dr. Washington held numerous roles in leadership positions and helped establish a Learning Center for Developmental Education. Additionally, he worked to create a diversity initiative strategic plan and an adult education program for individuals who were under-employed.

As president of Kalamazoo Valley, he hopes to continue his passion for preparing students for employment or transfer to a four-year college or university.

“In partnership with The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise), we are working with coaches and advisers to intersect with the students,” Dr. Washington said. “Through this proactive coaching, we help students understand programs of study, access resources, and sometimes provide further help if they are facing challenges.”

Additionally, Dr. Washington regularly meets with leadership from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, The Promise, and Communities In Schools to discuss ways in which Promise scholars can be assisted in taking full advantage of their opportunities.

Dr. Washington indicated that working with this leadership team helped create the Kalamazoo Valley Accelerated Associate Program (KVAAP).

“KVAAP came to exist because we have data indicating that students who have 12-15 credits per semester tend to do better than students with part-time schedules,” Dr. Washington explained. “The program also assists with tuition, tutoring, and job placement. This time next year, we will have students graduating from KVAAP.”

Outside of work, Dr. Washington enjoys reading, specifically comic books and books that focus on the topic of leadership. One of his favorites is Leadership Wisdom For All Generations: Unique Insights from Authentic Leaders, by Dr. Jennifer Wimbish.

Aside from reading, Dr. Washington enjoys attending diverse cultural and social justice events and spending time with his wife Tonja and their three children.

Although he has yet to discover a favorite restaurant in Kalamazoo, Dr. Washington has developed an affinity for the brussels sprouts at Martell’s and the chai tea at Water Street Coffee.

When asked what he likes most about Kalamazoo, Dr. Washington replied, “I’m enjoying getting to know students, faculty, and the community. Everyone is so welcoming, and the city is rich with museums, ball games, the symphony, and culture. I love being here!”

As an educator, Dr. Marshall wants to ensure that students come away with all the tools necessary for their future success and that the community he loves can go on to prosper.

“So many students have overcome major obstacles to complete high school,” he stated. “We want to help them build confidence and understand that they can be successful. Kalamazoo Valley is a resource where all will be supported. We are always open to having conversation about what we can do differently or offer in the future.”

Thank you, Dr. Washington. We appreciate your hard work!

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