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From instructor to vice president: a look back at the career of Andrew Bone

Vice President Andrew Bone (left) forcing Courier Editor-in-Chief Matthew Skog to pose with him for this photo. Photo by Saul Rodriguez.

The success of an organization like Chemeketa depends on the abilities of those who serve it.

Chemeketa’s success cannot and should not be attributed to any single individual. But no one, save for perhaps Andrew Bone himself, would argue that Bone hasn’t earned a place in Chemeketa history.

After nearly a quarter century with the college, Vice President Bone will retire on Nov. 30.

Bone, who is originally from California, knew even in his youth that Oregon was where he was meant to be.

“I’d come to Oregon [in my college years] and I just thought it was the most beautiful place in the world,” he said.

Bone began teaching part-time at a community college in California, but longed to return to Oregon.

“I fell in love with teaching,” Bone said. “But I also wanted to get back to Oregon. So I kept my eye on openings in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley.”

The first Oregon college he applied to didn’t hire him.

“The second time though I managed to squeak under the wire and get hired,” he said.

Bone’s background in accounting helped him get under that wire.

“I was a CPA, a Certified Public Accountant,” he said. “I’d come to education teaching accounting and business: that’s what I got hired to do at Chemeketa.

“I mostly taught accounting classes, and most of them were transfer level. The challenge in that was the diversity [of student’s interests]. There were students in there who were highly motivated, wanted to become accountants, and some even aspired to become a CPA… But there were also students who were dabbling, thinking maybe they wanted to major in business and this was a required course they had to take. They had no interest in accounting; it was just a box they had to check. So I wanted to at least make it interesting for them. I tried to make it fun and I tried to make it interesting.”

But fun and interesting weren’t enough. Because of his time as a CPA, Bone knew exactly what challenges awaited his students in the real world and set the difficulty of his classes accordingly.

“I was always committed that grades had predictive value for me,” he said. “I didn’t want someone getting an A at Chemeketa from me, transferring to the University of Oregon, and getting a D. I wanted it to mean something. So the classes were hard I thought. There’s no real way around that because it’d be a disservice to any student, especially those who were choosing accounting as a field, to kid them about what was involved.”

After a decade of teaching at Chemeketa, Bone began looking for a new challenge. And he found it in the job of Executive Dean.

“I was getting a little bit bored of teaching accounting and business,” he said. “I felt like I’d done that enough. I was thinking about doing other things, including maybe trying to get reassigned to the writing department. So I went back to school and got a master’s degree in humanities so I could teach in the writing department, thinking that would be a change. I’d just completed that when an administrative position became open in the president’s office. So I thought ‘what the heck.’ I applied.”

The decision to apply paid off for Bone, but to this day he still attributes being hired to luck.

“I got hired to be – the title was Executive Dean,” he said. “Now there’s more of them, but at the time it was the only one. I always thought it was a very odd title.

“But that was when Gretchen Schuette was here. So I worked for Gretchen for, I don’t know, three years or so. She retired. And I worked for Cheryl Roberts for the time she was here, seven or eight years, in the same general capacity, but I’d taken on more and more things. So it was when Cheryl left and the board appointed Julie Huckestein – Julie and I had worked together for the previous ten years or so. We knew each other well. Same with Jim Eustrom… Julie appointed me and Jim to be the two vice presidents of the college. Right place, right time. I’m extremely fortunate.”

Be it due to good fortune or not, Bone has had his fair share of gratifying experiences at Chemeketa. One of his favorites involved co-teaching a developmental writing class with his long-time friend and colleague Bill Florence.

“Now this is back in the day when they’d let anybody teach some of these classes,” Bone said. “Florence knew more about language than anybody I’ve ever met… he knew a lot about grammar and punctuation. I don’t have a lot of interest in grammar and punctuation. I think you can write effectively and ignore it. It made for an interesting combination.”

Despite their differences, Bone looks back on those courses as some of the most enriching experiences of his career.

“See I learned a lot from it,” he said. “When I first formulated what I was expecting when I walked in the first day, I was expecting people that had trouble writing. What I found was some people could write very well, they just didn’t know it… There were all these groups of people, all having their own challenges. It was just a very rich and wonderful experience for me. I felt like it was one of the highlights of my teaching.”

As the Vice President of Governance and Administration, Bone has played a significant role in the financial well-being of the college.

“I’m proud to have been part of an organization where the budget is healthy,” he said. “We don’t have a terrible budget situation. That doesn’t happen by accident. It’s deliberate and it’s been over the course of years of trying to manage the assets of the college responsibly.”

Bone is also proud of the strong relationship Chemeketa’s administration has with the college’s faculty and staff.

“Our relationships with the unions, sometimes there are high-points and low-points, but by and large we have a healthy respect for each other,” he said. “For the most part we work collaboratively. It’s not the norm for most places. We try to work on problems and not let them fester. We try to listen to people when they have complaints.”

Although he looks back fondly on most of his career, he isn’t without regrets.

“When I came to this job, I really wanted to better integrate administrators into the education process,” Bone said. “That’s why I kept teaching. After I’d taken this job I continued to teach a class here and a class there. I wanted more administrators to teach classes, so they would have that classroom experience. Over the years I just didn’t do it. In retrospect, I wish I had not given up on that, because I think teaching is a noble activity. I felt like I learned more than I ever taught just by being in a classroom with people. It’s a wonderful activity and I wish more administrators did that as part of their regular job.”

After all these years serving Chemeketa, Bone has no parting words of wisdom to share. But he does have a simple request of anyone willing to listen.

“Keep fighting the good fight,” Bone said.