Press "Enter" to skip to content

Rooted in Community, Driven by Education: Dr. Bradley Lane’s Leadership

Dr. Bradley Lane’s journey mirrors the inspiring ethos of Seattle Central College, where the doors of opportunity swing open for all. From his beginnings as a first-generation college student to his current role as the interim president, Lane commits to educational equity.

From Rural Tennessee to Seattle Central’s Interim Presidency

Lane’s roots trace back to rural West Tennessee, where high school teachers saw his potential and encouraged him to pursue higher education. Unsure of his options, Lane enrolled in the closest college to his hometown.

“School for me was one of the happiest places in life,” he said. His love for the educational environment propelled him toward a career in teaching, and he started by teaching middle and high school. 

Encouragement from professors fueled ambitions for graduate studies, and Lane pursued a Ph.D. at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Lane experienced the diversity of students that community colleges attract while teaching at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, shaping his resolve to focus his career on the institutions.

“When I had the opportunity to go and look for work again, I made the choice that I was only going to teach in community colleges, where I could get the best of all worlds,” Lane said. 

Upon moving to Seattle in 2009, Lane found fulfillment teaching English classes at North Seattle College. Lane embraced leadership roles at Seattle Central as his career progressed, serving in various administrative capacities. When the opportunity for interim presidency arose, Lane grappled with uncertainty.

“The role felt really different from others that I had,” he said. “I certainly had some fear that it would be unknown and different.”

Lane found his new role rewarding. “Getting to tell the story of the college to people, especially outside the college, but also working on building teams of people within the college, especially during a time when we needed to rebuild a lot after the pandemic,” proved profoundly fulfilling.

Embracing Legacy and Innovation

“I really love the history of Seattle Central. The rich legacy that this college has is something that continues to inspire me,” Lane said. 

He finds inspiration in the college’s foundation. Having been started by African-American and Asian-American communities advocating for open access and diversity in the heart of Seattle, the college has historic involvement in social justice movements. 

“We are deeply embedded in what it means to do public education in the heart of the city,” Lane said. He highlighted the site’s dedication to education, evolving from a high school to a technical school before becoming a community college. By 2001, Central had been named “College of the Year” by Time Magazine. 

Lane also mentions Central’s contributions to educational research and innovative learning methodologies. During the 1990s and 2000s, the college emerged as a hub for scholarly research, attracting scholars and researchers from diverse backgrounds. 

“I know that we continue to do really innovative and unique things,” he said. 

His admiration extends to the present day. At Central, he sees a constant strive for innovation and inspiration. 

“I want to keep telling our story, and I want us to have the kind of national recognition that we have in the past,” Lane said. 

Leading a College

Stepping into the interim presidency at a time of significant change, Lane felt a critical need for connection. With retirements, departures, and pandemic-induced remote work, rebuilding relationships became a priority. He says it was inspiring to witness renewed ties as people return to campus.

Lane identifies with servant and transformational leadership. He strives to inspire others, lead by example, and empower them to achieve their goals.

“I would ask folks to do stuff that I’m doing, and try to find ways to help people meet the goals that they have set for themselves, for their learning or their career. Make them feel a part of something bigger and feel great joy and satisfaction from our work,” Lane said.

While Lane misses direct interaction with students, he finds purpose in the college’s mission of “An open-access college that serves as a lever for educational justice and social justice so that people have opportunities into whatever kind of educational pathway or journey that they want to find.”

Lane acknowledges the challenges inherent in leadership roles, particularly the need to balance addressing problems with celebrating successes.

“Your day often gets consumed by the most difficult problems that are happening at the college, and you have to balance that out with a recognition and celebration of all the good things that happen, too,” he said. 

Rebuilding, Rebalancing, and Reconnecting

Upon assuming the interim presidency, Lane set three key goals: rebuilding, rebalancing, and reconnecting. 

First, he tackled staffing shortages by aiming to fill 100 open positions. The endeavor aimed at rebuilding the college’s capacity and addressing immediate needs within the institution. This goal was successfully achieved in the first year of his term.

Secondly, Lane prioritized stabilizing the college’s finances. In his words, “During the pandemic, there was some concern about the college enrollment and finances; people were worried that we would have to close programs, which we did not have to do. Last year, we did have a balanced budget. And this year, we are having a balanced budget as well.”

Lastly, Lane emphasized revitalizing the college’s connection to the community. 

“We’re still doing this work, but we’re starting,” he said. “I think we are making really good progress, both hosting events on campus, trying to bring more activity and life back, and also trying to show up and be a resource in the neighborhood so that the people who live around us and live in the city see us as a place where they can take a workshop, a class, or come and eat in one of the restaurants or come to the theater.”

Defining Success

Lane emphasizes the importance of goal-setting and accountability in his discussion of success. 

“I spent a good bit of time listening to folks and the kinds of needs that they surfaced to create a set of goals that I would hold myself accountable for,” he said. For Lane, success hinges on maintaining focus and commitment to his goals while striving to achieve set targets.

While he’s worked towards his three initial goals, Lane believes success transcends task completion. 

“Success is setting stretch goals for yourself and working hard to achieve them,” he said. 

The Path Forward

Outside of his initial three goals of rebuilding and hiring, budget stabilization, and re-energizing community connections, Lane highlighted ongoing discussions regarding the college’s next steps, enhancing the first-year student experience, and fostering cohesive cohort experiences.  These initiatives aim to provide incoming students with a supportive environment conducive to academic success.

Lane underscored his involvement in developing Seattle Central’s strategic plan for coming years. While specific goals are yet to be finalized, the process involves gathering feedback from various stakeholders to identify critical priorities like student success, equity, and community building. The collaborative approach ensures that the strategic plan reflects the diverse perspectives and aspirations of the Seattle Central community, laying the foundation for future initiatives and progress.

With his interim presidency set to conclude this summer, the new goals will fall under the purview of a new permanent president. Nonetheless, Lane emphasizes the importance of data-driven decision-making, mainly through the lens of Seattle Central’s strategic plan.

Monitoring student enrollment, retention rates, and degree completion metrics is paramount to ensure the college’s commitment to equitable outcomes across racial demographic groups. Addressing outcome disparities, especially among historically underserved students of color, remains a focal point of Central’s efforts to promote inclusivity and educational equity.

Seattle Central is also working to enhance accessibility and sustainability across its campus infrastructure. This includes updating facilities to comply with accessibility standards, creating gender-inclusive bathroom spaces, and prioritizing sustainable building practices. Additionally, Seattle Central is committed to monitoring and reducing its environmental footprint.

Once his tenure as interim president ends this summer, Lane is looking forward to continuing working in education. 

“I’m a big believer in the power of public education. I am going to stay focused on that and really try to help colleges improve the student experience and the kind of outcomes that students have for graduating and earning their degrees,” Lane said. 


Danika Djuanda

Born and raised in the lively ambiance of Jakarta, Danika is a burgeoning storyteller. Now, nestled in Seattle’s rain-soaked embrace, she refines her craft as an editor and writer at the Seattle Collegian while pursuing her AA degree. With every keystroke, she senses anticipation, understanding that her words could unveil hidden stories and amplify unheard voices. Danika’s mission transcends reporting; it is about infusing vitality into narratives that spark change and resonate with the world, leaving an enduring impact.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2018 - 2023 The Seattle Collegian