Check It Out!

Hosted ByKen Harvey, Jim Hills, Cindy Tingley, and Paul Pitkin

A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds.

Episode 40: On the path to higher education with Paul Pitre

WSU Everett Chancellor Paul Pitre’s career path wasn’t always taking him toward higher-education administration.

But once he got there, it all made sense.

WSU Everett Chancellor Paul Pitre pauses during the recording of the Check It Out! podcast.

With a bachelor’s degree in communications studies from Western Washington University in hand, Pitre started working in Seattle-area media jobs.

“I worked at (Seattle-based TV station) KOMO for a while,” Pitre says “They had me in reception, then running the Telepromoters and taking the mail around.”

Pitre was with the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce managing community relations and working on public-education partnerships when he took an opportunity to work in the University of Washington’s Office of Minority Affairs as coordinator of admissions/recruitment.

“When I was in media, I was thinking I’d go into sales,” Pitre says. “By chance, I got this job chance as a recruiter for Brand X.

Pitre says he developed a passion for the work.

“I had a decision to make. I just decided it meant more to me to wake up and make a difference in someone’s life,” he says.

He moved to a position with Washington State University and while he was setting others on their own journeys to higher education, Pitre was doing the same for himself.

After the degree from Western, Pitre earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from New York University and then a doctorate in education policy and leadership at the University of Maryland. He was also a graduate teaching assistant at Maryland and an assistant professor of educational leadership and sport management at Auburn University in Alabama.

“I didn’t really know I was going to do all the education when I made the (career) switch,” Pitre says. “Eventually I did, but it suited me.”

Pitre says his mother was a teacher and her father was a physician. Pitre’s father grew up on a farm in Louisiana and couldn’t get a high-school diploma.

“The nearest high school was 10 miles away (from where his father grew up). It might as well have been 10,000 miles away,” Pitre says, adding that his father completed high school while in the military. “I remember when he got his bachelor’s degree from Seattle University when I was 7 or 8.”

Pitre says he knows that while growing up in Seattle, some of his peers didn’t have his advantages.

“That has fueled my passion for creating access to higher education,” he says.

Episode length: 1:09:39

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