New Bates president amazed ‘how education can change a person’s life’ – including hers

Lin Zhou is the new president of Bates Technical College in Tacoma, where she’s worked since 2013.
Lin Zhou is the new president of Bates Technical College in Tacoma, where she’s worked since 2013. Courtesy photo

In light of the recent leadership transition at Bates Technical College, I would like to introduce myself to our community and share my journey and vision for Bates.

As an adult immigrant, I came to the United States with my husband 19 years ago from Beijing, China. My husband and I both worked in the information technology field at the time.

My first couple of months in the U.S. were very challenging. Although I had learned English in college, speaking the language in the U.S. was quite a new experience. My parents, sister and brother were far away from me.

I didn’t know anyone, could not understand the language, nor could I say anything nor could I communicate when I was out in public. I was lost, frustrated with myself, and felt hopeless.

I enrolled as an English as a Second Language (ESL) student at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT), formerly Lake Washington Technical College. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

I continued my studies to gain an AAS degree in Computer Science and Network Technology, and later worked at LWIT as a tech-aid.

I am proud to say that a technical college is where my “American Dream” journey started. From there, I continued my studies and earned an MBA from City University of Seattle, and a doctorate in Education from Oregon State University.

In 2017, I attended the Institute of Educational Management program at Harvard University.

Professionally, I worked in different positions at LWIT, before being hired as a dean at Bates Technical College in January 2013.

At Bates, I’ve had the opportunity to work in various departments and across multiple campuses, and most recently served as vice president of institutional effectiveness and student success.

It is amazing how education can change a person’s life. I had never expected nor imagined that one day I would work in higher education when I was in China.

I am who I am today because education really works. Washington state community and technical colleges lead students to greater opportunities.

Why am I sharing my personal story with you? Because I fully believe that if a person who started their journey like me can get this far, anyone else can. They just need to start somewhere and be persistent.

Confucius said: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Bates is a great choice to get started on that very journey.

I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve and lead the institution to provide education and career pathways for students and prepare the workforce for the community.

Bates remains focused on student success and program excellence; continuous improvement and accountability; diversity, equity and inclusiveness; and campus and community collaboration.

Serving the residents of the greater Tacoma community for more than 75 years, Bates is an accredited, publicly supported college, and part of Washington state’s community and technical college system.

Nearly 7,000 people enroll at Bates each year in Running Start, Technical High School, and college degree, certificate, certification and extended learning programs.

Our hardworking, dedicated faculty and staff are always ready and willing to help students. We offer degrees and short-term certificates that prepare students for living-wage careers. We are the biggest educational provider for apprenticeship, child studies, and fire service professionals in the state.

Our Technical High School program for students 16-20 is a hidden gem. Many of our programs are industry-accredited, to ensure we keep standards high.

Globally, Bates works with international partners to provide contract training that targets technical education for administrators, faculty and students in China.

Certainly, Bates faces critical challenges, as do the rest of the community and technical colleges in Washington. But I am committed to helping our college emerge even stronger.

I am also committed to helping the Bates Technical College Foundation grow so that we can help students with scholarships and emergency funding, as well as provide the necessary high-tech equipment needed for our technical programs.

I am here, ready and happy, to serve Bates and the community and look forward to meeting and working with the community and industry partners.

I welcome any feedback, suggestions or advice from you. Please feel free to contact me to set up a meeting. I would enjoy the opportunity to talk with you.

Lin Zhou is the new president of Bates Technical College in Tacoma. Reach her by email at president@bates.ctc.edu or call (253) 680-7100.