Kenmore will not only be welcoming Charles “Mac” Powell as the new President to Bastyr University on July 1, but will also be welcoming one of the few openly gay men in the upper echelons of higher education – oh, and he’s a foodie.
Powell, who will be replacing retiring Dr. Daniel Church as the head of Bastyr University, is currently president of John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, Calif., near San Francisco.
“Bastyr was impressive to me because it, like John F. Kennedy University, takes its mission not just to educate students but to change the world through the students lives, lives of the students patients and clinics, was really exciting to me,” Powell said.
Powell was contacted by the search firm on behalf of Bastyr University and, after a lengthy selection process involving other selectees, was contacted by the university to inform him of their decision.
“All who love Bastyr want to thank President Church for his tremendous contributions to the University and the field of natural medicine,” said Samuel L. Anderson, JD, chair of the Bastyr University Board of Trustees. “The Board of Trustees believes that if anyone can fill [Dr. Church’s] big shoes, it is Dr. Powell. The entire Bastyr community is excited to see the positive contributions he will make.”
The contributions he has made to the institutions that he’s worked at have been many, from growing institutions or making institutions more successful. He has been the President and CEO of WestMed College, executive director of the National University Center for Performance Psychology, is a former associate professor at National University and the founding dean of the National University Golf Academy, along with holding several degrees and being a licensed marriage and family therapist.
“Bastyr is a very successful institution and there’s both time to work hard and reflect, but really, at the end of the day, every presidency is about bringing life into the institution and making good decisions every day,” Powell said.
Part of the reason Powell believes he is a good choice is that he is a student of presidents.
“Dr. Church has done some really amazing things,” Powell said. “I think that I look at this as a new chapter, I think what he did is amazing, and I don’t think that comparing is healthy, but I hope in 10 years I hope I can look back and be as successful as Dr. Church was.” Starting out with a school that is well founded is one thing, but when coming to a new schools it’s also about the area, as well, and what one’s family will find there.
“Excited! I think it’s a tremendous opportunity,” Powell said. “My partner is very excited about moving to Seattle and we think it’s an institution really on the cusp of making the world a better place.”
According to LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education, an organization advancing effective leadership of post-secondary education and supporting LGBTQ leaders within higher education, Powell is one of only around 50 openly gay higher education leaders. Powell is also a member of the LGBTQ Presidents organization.
“I’m an openly gay president. There aren’t many of us in the country, we all are colleagues, know each other and can lean on each other for experiences and situations that we have in common,” Powell said. “My partner, Tuan, we spend a lot of time together and… a successful relation at home makes for a much easier work life – and vice-a-versa.”
And, they’re foodies.
“Tuan and I are both foodies, we love great food and great wine, and we entertain a lot in our house,” Powell said. “We’re very much looking forward to the beautiful food and wine of the Northwest, having people at our home for dinner and getting to become acquainted with all the people that make a difference up there.”
He’s not only working full time as a president, but he’s also on commissions for social justice, a licensed therapist, an academic writer and public speaker, and a recovering golfer – though he’s looking forward to heading back to the golf course when he gets to Washington.
“I love being a university president, never thought I would be one because I liked being a professor, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I love it. It gives me tremendous satisfaction,” Powell said. “The challenge of it is what gets me up every day.”