SEATTLE – North Seattle Community College President Mark Mitsui has been selected to serve as deputy assistant secretary for community colleges in the U.S. Department of Education.

Mark Mitsui

Mitsui will take the post on Aug. 12. He will work in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, which focuses on career, technical, adult and correctional education across the country, with a special emphasis on programs involving community colleges. His role supports President Obama’s, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s and the department’s agenda on community college access and completion.

“While this is a loss for Seattle, it is also a vote of confidence in the quality of leadership in our colleges and our city.” said Seattle Community Colleges Chancellor Jill Wakefield, who named Mitsui to the North presidency in July 2010. “In a short time, Mark Mitsui enhanced long-standing programs and developed new ones that have earned North a reputation as one of the stellar colleges in our state,”

During his tenure as president, Mitsui had linked the college with a number of national and international activities. The college hosted a 2011 White House Initiative on Asian Pacific Islanders NW Regional Conference on Sustainability, which was attended by more than 400 regional and national participants. The conference was co-hosted by Hyeok Kim, a commissioner for the White House Initiative on Asian Pacific Islanders, and by the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Mitsui was one of a small group of delegates from across the country selected to participate in the 2012 Japanese American Leadership Delegation sponsored by the U.S.-Japan Council and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which toured the tsunami-stricken Tohoku region.

“Mark Mitsui’s appointment is a step forward in representing Asian Americans as the fastest-growing population group in the higher education field,” the JACL said in a statement. “We hope to see more diversity in future appointments.”

Mitsui has special expertise in college programs leading to student success and economic development. As vice president at South Seattle Community College, he headed a team that secured a $2.4 million Department of Education grant, earning designation for the college as one of the first six members of a national select group of Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander-serving institutions.

He was chosen to serve as board chair of the national Asian American Pacific Islander Association of Colleges and Universities (APIACU), which is dedicated to improving the quality of post-secondary educational opportunities and access for low-income, under-represented Asian American Pacific Islander students.

At North, Mitsui oversaw the completion and opening of the Opportunity Center for Employment and Education, which combines state services for employment, social services, financial counseling, basic skills and further education in a one-stop campus location. The center is among a handful in the country, served more than 50,000 individuals last year, and was recognized with an Innovation of the Year Award from the League for Innovation in the Community College.

The college also initiated a customized training department that connects the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Job Skills Program with local industries, and has been recognized for improving sales and increasing jobs. North’s Nanotechnology program was recently designated a Regional Center for Nanotechnology with a $3 million National Science Foundation grant and a goal of expanding the diversity and number of trained nanotechnologists in the Northwest.

North is one of the three Seattle Community Colleges, and works together with other colleges in the district. A transition plan for filling the president’s position is now being developed, said Wakefield.

The district is the second-largest higher education institution in the state, serving nearly 50,000 students every year at Seattle Central, North Seattle and South Seattle Community Colleges; Seattle Vocational Institute; and four specialized training centers across the city.

Mitsui has a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University and master’s in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Washington, where he is a doctoral student in the same field.

He served as assistant dean of student services at Green River Community College, where he led the college’s first diversity training process and was recognized with the International Exemplary Leadership in Higher Education Award. He was the Seattle Community College District’s athletics commissioner for the NWAACC (Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges) and established equitable funding for men’s and women’s teams.

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