He may have retired from his administrative post at Community Colleges of Spokane nine years ago, but Dr. Jim Perez talks about serving some of the colleges’ most challenged students with the passion of a man who started the job yesterday. “Seeing the desire to learn, the desire to improve, that desire for subsistence – it was just wonderful,” he says.
The Grandview, Wash. native expresses empathy for people who find it hard to find their way to and through college. “I failed at a few colleges,” Jim says, with a slight smile and shrug of his shoulders. “The Army gave me focus.” After the Army, he attended Yakima Valley Community College and ultimately earned his Ph.D. from Gonzaga University. The beginning of his 26-year career in higher education was largely dedicated to four-year public and private universities, until – he describes it – he made the move to community college education which is more aligned to his own philosophy. He served at Columbia Basin Community College and Shoreline Community College before coming to Spokane.
As a CCS Foundation board member, Jim has taken the lead in procuring community support for the CCS athletic scholarship fundraiser, the Bigfoot Classic, in addition to volunteering at other CCS Foundation fundraising events throughout the year. “I know where the money is going,” he says of his fundraising efforts. “I know we’re getting the most benefit – that many of the students we assist will stay in the community and be successful. They’ll be our builders and maintainers of our infrastructure and also be our teachers and medical professionals.”