Profile: Randy Martin, director of Skagit Valley College San Juan Center

Randy Martin, Skagit Valley College San Juan Center's Elderhostel coordinator for the past 10 years, has been named director of San Juan Center.

He succeeds Dr. Denise King, who left in August to become dean of arts and humanities at St. Charles Community College in Missouri.

"We were looking for someone who was established in the community and understands the community's needs," said Mick Donahue, the college's executive vice president of Instruction and Student Services.

"Randy was the perfect pick. He did a great job with Elderhostel and he has the background to do a great job as director."

Martin has a bachelor of science from Pacific Lutheran University and previously provided student support services as an educational planner with Tacoma Community College's Running Start program.

He is a member of the inaugural class of Leadership San Juan Islands, a program developed in 2005 by Skagit Valley College and the San Juan County Economic Development Council that helps community members to develop their professional leadership skills.

"I'm certainly passionate about lifelong learning," Martin said. "This new role gives me the opportunity to work directly with academic and local students, whereas for the past 10 years I've been working with our transient students (through Elderhostel)."

Under Martin's leadership, the Elderhostel program has doubled in size. San Juan Center is now the largest Elderhostel provider in the Pacific Northwest, and there are plans for even further expansion by adding new programs throughout San Juan, Skagit and Island counties. Offerings include both shipboard and land-based classes.

Martin has enjoyed his experiences with Elderhostel. "The Elderhostel participants are uniquely well traveled, well educated and open minded. They come to learn what's unique about this area. We pair them with local experts to create an experience that's very rewarding."

San Juan Center serves the entire county, providing academic transfer classes, community service classes and business workshops, retraining for career changers, adult basic education and high school diploma completion, and English as a Second Language.

"Our goal is to make it as convenient and local as possible," Martin said, adding that community courses such as conditioning, yoga and Pilates have been very popular.

Asked about his vision for San Juan Center, Martin said the center will continue to offer community service classes, including some academic classes onsite.

"There is an emerging trend toward online courses," Martin said. "We will always have classes on the ground, but more and more students are opting for online classes."

Martin pointed out another positive addition to the staff: Sandy Harold, the center's new counselor adviser.

"She's been here for years teaching social studies and is perfectly suited to serve students directly with the kind of focus they deserve," Martin said. "She will provide them with positive guidance."

Martin added, "This place has changed over the past few years. If people haven't been here in a while, they should come by and take a look. We have an amazing faculty and great staff."

Martin's wife, Melissa, a physical therapist, provides home health therapy for islanders through Island Hospital. They have two daughters — Ava and Lucy, 3 and 5, respectively.

"They are more than wonderful," he said.

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