Monday, June 30, 2008

The Mountains Are Out

Today is one of those drop dead gorgeous summer days for which everyone in Seattle lives: it is bright and sunny and the temperature is in the low 70’s, and the mountains are out. This requires explaining a little local topography and vernacular.

Seattle is surrounded by mountains and water. We have two magnificent mountain ranges that flank us: the Olympic Mountains to our west and the Cascade Mountains to the east. Most of you will be able to note the slate blue/white veined Cascades as you fly into Seattle – it is one of the reasons to request a window seat. The Cascades extend from southern British Columbia through Washington State and Oregon into northern California. The Olympics are situated west, across the Sound, on the Peninsula. The Olympics are the site for the Olympic National Park, site of a large, temperate rain forest (the wettest area in the continental US).

I am blessed that when I drive to work I initially head west and get to view the Olympics; coming home I head east and have a panoramic view of the Cascades. All that is provided that the mountains are out -- the local term for those clear days when you can see the mountains and they are so prominent and beautiful that they look as if you can just reach out and touch them.

The most prominent mountains in the Cascade range are Mount Hood, Mount Baker, Mount Adams and, Mount St.Helens (largely because it blew up and traumatized Portland and Seattle in May 1980.) However, Mt. Rainier is The Mountain (not to be confused with Seattle’s KMTT FM, 103.7 The Mountain – world class rock.) It is the uber mountain in the region and when you see it on a clear day you feel compelled to take an moment from whatever you are doing to enjoy its majesty.

Of course, we are also surrounded by water. The section of the Sound (aka Puget Sound) in Seattle is referred to as Elliott Bay (technically it stretches from Alki Point in West Seattle, a great part of Seattle with a nice beach, to West Point in the lovely Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle.) Across town is Lake Washington, a huge fresh water lake (Washington State’s second largest lake). Lake Washington is crossed by three floating bridges, and since Seattle has so many “ests” note that the Evergreen Point, Lacey V. Murrow, and third Lake Washington bridges are the longest, second longest, and fifth longest floating bridges in the world, respectively. Also in town are Lake Union, and Green Lake. When we have a sun break (periods during a mercurial day when the clouds break and the sun peeks out) sometimes you will hear about sunshine slow downs on the freeways crossing Lake Union or Lake Washington, as drivers are initially blinded by the reflection of the sun on the water. Remember we have the nation’s highest per capita consumption of sunglasses in Seattle.

So, remember to request a window seat when flying out, and hopefully we will all be fortunate during NACAC and the mountains will be out. You’ll feel blessed to see them.

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University

Friday, June 27, 2008

NACAC Goes Green

As the 64th National Conference in Seattle approaches, a city known for its greening efforts, NACAC has taken a closer look at the impact we are making on the environment.

While NACAC strives to provide our members with a supportive community in which to help students prosper and grow, we've also sought over the years to recognize the impact we have on the global community. (NACAC adopted its Recycling Counseling and Admission Publications and Materials policy in 1991.) In an effort to address growing environment concerns and become more environmentally-friendly and ecologically responsible, NACAC will kick off its greening initiative at the 64th National Conference.

NACAC has partnered with the Washington State Convention Trade Center to help reduce waste by replacing trash cans with recycle bins and printing all material on post-consumer recycled paper.

In addition, NACAC presenters, sponsors and exhibitors are encouraged to print materials on recycled paper and to print and ship a reduced quantity of materials to reduce waste. Electronic copies of educational session handouts and attendee lists will be available online rather than in printed form to reduce waste. Reducing the harmful impacts on the environment, however, will not stop in Seattle.

NACAC is committed to pursuing green printing practices and will begin offering some publications exclusively online. In 2009 the Membership Directory will be available exclusively online in an electronic Web-based format. The new format will provide current information, updates, and easy-to-use search options and access to your colleagues and service providers. By going green NACAC will continue providing innovative services that will benefit both our members and the environment.

Watch for the green symbol to indicate publications that will be available exclusively online in the future.

Send us comments on this posting.

Conference Updates from NACAC: Registration, Badges, Housing, Preconference Workshops, etc

The early bird deadline for registration is July 11. Don't miss out on the premier education and networking event for the college admission counseling profession—register today for the National Conference.

Badge confirmation emails will be sent in late-August to all participants registered by August 14. These emails will confirm exactly what will be printed on your national conference badge in September and the address to which we will mail registration materials in early September. If you are changing institutions over the summer, email your updated contact information so that we email and mail your materials to the right address.

Housing Options Still Available
Lots of housing options are still available in Seattle. NACAC contracts with a variety of hotels offering varying rate structures and amenities to fit the varying needs of registered attendees. There is no headquarters or main hotel as all NACAC events will take place in the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. You must be a registered attendee of the conference before you can book housing. View list of hotels and options.

Register for Preconference Workshops
Interested in taking your professional education one step further? The three-hour preconference seminars and one or two day preconference workshops offered before the National Conference are a great way to get in-depth, hands-on learning opportunities on some of the hottest professional topics affecting you and your students. Space is limited, so register today.

Complete the Educational Session Preferences Survey
Have you picked your educational sessions yet? Current national conference registrants are asked to complete the Educational Session Preferences Survey that was emailed recently asking which educational sessions you plan to attend in Seattle. This data will help NACAC assign the most popular sessions to the largest meetings rooms. Be sure to complete the survey by July 17.

Want to know more about the sessions at the conference? Visit the Conference Web page to see the sessiondescriptions, speakers and schedule.

Don't Miss the Keynote Speakers
NACAC is pleased to present the following keynote speakers for the 2008 National Conference:
  • Randy Snow on Thursday, September 25 from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
  • Sherman Alexie on Friday, September 26 from 9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
  • Zenobia Hikes on Saturday, September 27 from 7:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m.

We look forward to seeing you in Seattle!

Monday, June 23, 2008

There is Something for Everyone. . . On Broadway

Broadway is the epicenter of Capitol Hill, one of Seattle’s most eclectic and diverse (read alternative) neighborhoods. The “Hill” is fun, interesting, and entertaining for those with open minds. You find many people with hair dyed primary colors, and various exotic piercings and tattoos, attired in thrift store couture -- it is sort of like a National Geographic special. It is the locus for many young, and not so young people exploring their boundaries, who in a couple of years will decide to attend law school or get their MBA and shortly after drive Volvos. If you are curious about Seattle’s grunge scene this is where you need to visit.

Stretching north-south along the western crest of Capitol Hill, Broadway is anchored by the Harvard Exit Theatre and the Landmark Egyptian Theatre on its southern end. Both regularly feature great art and alternative films (as does the Northwest Film Festival on parallel 12th Avenue).

Factoids: the Seattle International Film Festival, held annually from mid-May to mid-June is the largest film festival in the nation; the Seattle Fringe Theatre Festival holds the title of being the longest continuously producing festival of fringe theatre in the United States. There are three colleges along Broadway: Seattle University at its south end, Seattle Central Community College in its center, and then an arm of Cornish College of the Arts at its end. Actually the term Broadway is pretty – broad – and includes the sights and sounds of the many streets that intersect it such as Pike, Pine, Denny, and Roy.

The strip sort of begins with the Jimi Hendrix statute located on the Northeast corner of Broadway and Pine Street (note: Pine is parallel to and north of Pike). Close by is The Garage: Bowl/Pool/Food. It is very hip and was developed by a number of partners, including Mike McCready (Pearl Jam). It served as an auto repair garage from 1928 to being transformed in 1996 and has exposed ceilings, special lighting, and distinctive features. It is open daily from 3 pm to 2 am and besides bowling, playing pool, and being a bar it has a diverse ethnic and American menu. In other words, it is a fun place to hang out.

If you want to hang out, close by on Pike Street is the Elysian Brewing Company and Public House. It has floor to ceiling windows, a half-block long bar, and a slew of beers including six brewed on the premise. The pub grub is excellent, and it is a comfortable hang out for carpenters, plumbers, attorneys, and university types.

A tres cool new hang out is Quinn’s Pub (1001 E Pike). The atmosphere includes exposed wood and iron, the requisite earth tone walls, candlestick sconces and framed art of barnyard animals (think British Isles). The Anglophile will find familiar pubby food (fresh sausage; hanger steak with frites) and more than a dozen beers on tap.

If you want upscale and chic drinks Licorous on 928 12th Avenue (perpendicular to Madison and one block south of Broadway) is a great destination. It features eight “specialty” cocktails, which come solo or are paired with “small bites that enhance their flavor,” as well as a very nice wine list. The atmosphere is warm as is the wait staff, and it neighbors swank Lark, a tapas restaurant that is currently in vogue with the smart set – better yet they share the same chef. What’s not to like?

Across the street is very informal Café Press, a French bistro/sports bar where you can kick back and drink a Stella (or pastis) while watching soccer (aka “football”). It offers great French bistro (i.e. bar) food like Croque Monsieur, and inexpensive good wine: best yet, it’s cheap. It is also a terrific place for dark coffee and brioche in the morning for breakfast.

Walking north along Broadway is Dick’s Drive-In, a long standing feature of Seattle culture that has five locations. It features three American classics: burgers, fries, and shakes. It is a final destination for many playing late and is open from 10:30 a.m. utill 2:00 a.m.

There are a variety of ethnic restaurants along Broadway – particularly good are its two Thai restaurants, from which we often order food when the staff is getting crabby on dark, wet, work intensive January and February days. Jai Thai is at 235 Broadway, and on the north end is Siam on Broadway. Both are excellent; Jai Thai has perhaps more atmosphere.

While our friends from California and the Southwest might find Mexican food pedestrian an extremely fine dining experience is Galerias on Broadway. This isn’t a variety plate restaurant. It has lots of atmosphere (sheer draperies, sun yellow walls, wrought iron chandeliers, and metal encased menus that can double as barbells.)

Entrees feature things like chilies en nogada (stuffed with meat and fruit in a light sauce), filete uruapan (shirt steak with sautéed vegetables in avocado sauce), enchiladas chipotle, or a spinach feta tamale. The drinks are comparably good; those liking margaritas can opt for quality or for those who prefer volume and to be conspicuous while drinking there are aquarium sized options.

La Spiga at 1429 12th Avenue is currently very hot. Its atmosphere is all exposed beams and rafters with large windows in the back offering views of downtown Seattle as a backdrop. The food is good and Tuscan oriented and it has a great wine list, but be advised the wait staff is composed of young Hill denizens with a very good self images and a lot of attitude.

There are myriad options if you want a slice. Every self respecting Seattle yuppie prides himself on patronizing Pagliacci Pizza, which has a branch at 426 Broadway. There are always seasonal specials: currently they are emphasizing asparagus/proscuitto and Walla Walla onion options. Here you can always get the goat cheese, sun dried tomato and artichoke heart, and feta cheese toppings that are part of the typical yuppie diet. The quality is always high and you are guaranteed good service and no attitude.

If you want a more traditional red and white checked vinyl tablecloth and plush booth experience there is Piecora’s at 2701 Madison (one block south of Pike) which usually has a very eclectic population. It’s a great place for pitchers and thin crusted pizza. Then there is Via Tribunali at 913 East Pike with its marble topped bar and wood fired oven. This is a hipster’s bar and Neapolitan-style pizzeria where you can check out beautiful people sitting in high backed booths sampling sliced proscuitto with buffalo mozzarella.

After eating, you might want to visit Bailey Coy Books in the middle of Broadway, a superb boutique book store described in an earlier post. The renowned Dilettante Café (Xanadu for any lover of high quality chocolate), which conveniently neighbored the bookstore has moved, but the happy news is that it will be reopening a block north on East Mercer and Broadway. Readers of even earlier post will note that Dilettante is the ultimate destination for those who enjoy rich, decadent, chocolate tortes and cakes – apparently the new location will include alcoholic drinks like chocolate martinis – which sound dangerous.

Of course, there’s coffee. While everyone in Seattle regularly patronizes Starbucks it is not cool to admit liking it.

Seattleites pride themselves on preferring one of the multitudes of independent coffee shops in the city. The Hill is riddled with them. Bauhaus Books and Coffee at 301 East Pine Street offers coffee with an urban, beatnik heartbeat and a great place for people watching.

Stumptown Coffee 1115 12th Avenue represents a back to basics Portland coffee invasion. Café Vita at 1005 East Pike is a classic Capitol Hill stop featuring excellent coffee and espresso. They roast the beans on site and many Seattle restaurants pride themselves on serving Café Vita beans.

Pettirosso is a very small, very quaint coffee shop on 1101 East Pike, which neighbors the chic Aria Salon, should you decide you need a trim. Coffee Animals 550 12th Avenue is a former motorcycle garage that has been converted to a café/blown glass studio with great coffee. But, I am leading you too far off the beaten path…

If you like to dance, there is the Century Ballroom and Café at 915 East Pine which is described as a first class salsa, swing, and Lindy Hop joint. If you want an edgier environment there is Neighbours Night Club, which while defined as gay is a regular destination for straight young women and men as well who want to dance and party at night. However, it costs nothing to experience the Broadway Dance Steps. East or west along the sidewalk in the middle of Broadway you will notice life sized bronze numbered footprints accompanied by numbers accompanied by plaques with musical rhythms. There are eight Broadway dance steps. So eat, drink, and then learn how to do the Mambo, the Foxtrot, the Rumba, the Lindy, or the Obeedo. Let loose, don’t worry, you won’t stick out, this is Capitol Hill.

I have barely scratched the surface here in describing Broadway and the Hill. By the way, it is about a 1 mile walk east (uphill) from the Convention Center.

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Eating Through the Market

This past weekend I was opening a can of Cougar Gold, that coveted singular cheese made by our friends over at Washington State University – it is truly ambrosia.

Getting the can open, however, is a pain in the…neck. It required sifting through the utility drawer to employ three different can openers all which I concluded were worthless. My wife and I determined that it was time, regardless of cost, to acquire the Rolls Royce of can openers.

Fortunately we were entertaining out of town guests, so I was headed to the Pike Place Market the next day anyway, and I knew exactly where to go.
The Pike Place Market (0.39 miles from the Convention Center) is nirvana for the gourmand. Not only is it a destination for incessant eating of every conceivable ethnicity, it is also a source of all possible food items and the tools to prepare them.

Any trip to the Market should be begun as soon as possible. By noon all the amateurs are there and pedestrian traffic increasingly becomes dysfunctional. And, since the wise begin early the sine qua non initial stop should be Le Panier (self described as “the very French bakery”).

Getting there you will probably walk by the original Starbucks. So now you can say you have seen it; keep walking. The coffee is far better at Le Panier and with a dizzying array of savory as well as sweet pastries.

As you enter the bakery you are confronted with two sensations: first is pleasant warmth from the ongoing baking and coffee being made; the other is olfactory – that of copious amounts of butter. Be advised, Le Panier is not on the American Heart Association list of recommended stops in Seattle. This visit a friend and I bought two almond croissants to have with our coffee and after the first bite debated whether to continue eating them or to rub them in our hair.

Of course, you need to rest and slowly savor the coffee after ingesting that much butter, which allows you to savor viewing the array of fish, fruits, vegetables and flowers across the street for sale in the Market itself. I left the bakery with two baguettes, 6 croissants: raspberry, apricot, and chocolate ( I had to think of the rest of the family) and 6 palmiers (don’t know what a palmier is? Guess you’ll have to go to Le Panier to find out, eh?)

During the rest of my shopping natives looked covetously at my shopping bag; when I got home the bags were largely spotted with the butter oozing from the pastry.

There are of course many other bakeries at the market such as Chinese, Russian (e.g. rich pierogies that leave you paralyzed after eating one). Fortunately, though, my appetite is on hold for hours after a visit to Le Panier.

Tourists should be sure to go to the fish stalls to see the renowned flying fish at the Pike Place Fish Market. Years ago the staff at the fish stalls developed a routine to amuse themselves as well as to entertain customers and drum up business and which makes their work fun -- buying selecting and buying fish is quite the performance. You request 2 lb. of salmon, for example, the clerk waiting on you yells your order across the store, and another wraps it up and throws it like a football to the one who called in your order while he and his colleagues bark back and forth like seals. (Guess you’ll have to go there to appreciate it.)

They are particularly animated if you have an attractive woman accompanying you. It is a genuinely fun experience and the imagined marketing/work philosophy has been much discussed, analyzed and published in various new age business studies. However, the visual pleasure of seeing all the beautiful fresh fish neatly arrayed on ice is reason enough to visit the fish market. All this is situated directly in front of the iconic large brass pig statute upon which visitors feel compelled to sit and have their pictures taken.

Walking through the many different stalls you immediately get great intentions about going home and later making incredible meals and you leave with bags of incredible fresh vegetables (of course they were less expensive 3 stalls down you discover after buying them), and fruit that you are compelled to sample as you continue shopping, meat, and then you have to buy a bouquet of flowers.

There are myriad specialty shops, like the expansive spice shop full of massive jars of every conceivable spice, and the Middle Eastern store where I initially get concerned glances as I start to take deep breaths upon entering the store.

One of my favorite stops is a gourmet Italian market De Laurenti. It has an incredible cheese selection with usually two clerks on hand just to assist your selection of cheeses (how can you not like a place with minimally four different types of Stilton at any given moment?) This is an upscale store (read Yuppie), so the cannollis have candied lemon peel (as opposed to those with chocolate chips offered at working class, and wonderful, Borrachinni’s Bakery in the Rainier Valley), and there is a great wine section with very knowledgeable salesmen.

My friends were return visitors, so they had certain destinations in mind. An ongoing favorite on their list was Milagros, an incredible Mexican folk art store that specializes in Oaxacan works, with many focused on the Day of the Dead. I have frequented this store for years and have acquired a number of black Oaxacan pottery pieces in the process.

Adjacent is a store featuring Moroccan artifacts, a store with sub-Saharan African works, and myriad Asian nation stores. Owning an Airedale I was drawn into a dog specialty store where I was able to acquire some breed specific gifts (it’s a dog thing if you don’t get it…) Suffice it to say there are many many many shops full of interesting and distinctive things besides food on which burn money at the Market.

Another of my favorite stops is the Seattle Cutlery Store. While I no longer need any more chefs’ knives I like to go in and ogle and fondle the amazing merchandise. My son has a new found interest in making sushi and wanted a specific Japanese sushi chef’s knife, but determining I’d need to finance a small loan I deferred that purchase.

The store includes incredible top shelf hardware like Sabatier, and cutlery from Laguiole in France, such as Laguiole corkscrews (described by Peter Mayle in Encore Provence as the best corkscrew in the world.) They have Swiss Army knives, and manicure sets worthy of performing surgery so be advised you will want everything.

So based upon the power of suggestion we dodged the many street musicians and walked a few steps down to the Pike and Western Wine Shop. While hardly Seattle’s best wine shop it has a nice array of wines from around the world, and a good representation from the Northwest, as well as a nice collection of appropriate vintage specific Riedel stemware. After all, after buying all the other groceries you need to complete the meal – right? Therefore this shop is very convenient. The pal accompanying me is a white wine drinker, so we left with several excellent bottles of Oregon Pinot Gris.

And, yes, I got the can opener – some state of the art German gadget at the market at Sur La Table – a mecca for cooks. Sur La Table is another of those dangerous places where you find yourself surrounded by things you don’t need but suddenly feel compelled to have. If you visit there perhaps you should only bring cash.

While I managed to frequently exercise my charge card, fortunately this was a short trip to the Market, as my friends and I were en route to the Experience Music Project (location for the NACAC social) to see the current special exhibit American Sabor (the Latin influence in contemporary music; it is great – sorry the exhibit leaves before NACAC).

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Tips from the Locals

It’s June-uary in Seattle. It snowed in April and we hit 90 degrees in May. Today’s paper claimed that Siberia had higher temps than Seattle yesterday. I realize we have a reputation for living in the rain 364.5 days of the year, but by the time the conference rolls around, you will see Seattle in its glory. The Local Arrangements Committee cannot wait to greet you!

As you prepare for the 64th NACAC National Conference, I suggest you keep a few things in mind:

  • The conference will be located in the heart of downtown Seattle. You will be thrilled to have great restaurants and fantastic shopping within an easy stroll. Take the time to explore our local wonders – sure Nordstrom and REI started here, but we have many wonderful locally owned restaurants and stores that you’ll love!

  • Coffee? No need to wait in lines at the Convention Center – as Todd mentioned, there is a Starbucks on every corner, sometimes two on every corner and lest you think Starbucks is the only gig in town, you’ll find plenty of other fine roasting establishments in between.

  • Seattle will happily introduce you to phenomenal microbrews and wines. You’ll soon understand why we not only consider our region to be the finest area for coffee, but for adult beverages as well. PNACAC as a region (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington) lays claim to some awfully good beers and wine.

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Seattle is built on a hill – your walks to Pike Place Market (you have to see the fish tossing) or to a ferry ride will be on a slight incline. I found the need to buy new shoes in both Salt Lake and Austin so hills or not, the conference itself demands happy feet.

  • Umbrellas will mark you as a tourist. Fleece and Gortex are welcome and encouraged. Though we hope you’ll be more concerned about where you stashed your sunglasses.

  • If you read Michael’s entry regarding the airport, you’ll notice that our beloved Sea–Tac airport has improved immensely in its offerings of food, drink and shopping. But, getting to your ground transportation is tricky. I’ll emphasize what Michael said, go to baggage claim to gather your luggage (hopefully paying for it helps it to arrive with you!) then head up the escalator – not all the way up to ticketing, but half way up to the skybridge. If you go to ticketing, you’ve gone too far. We hope to have guides to help you navigate this…Good luck!

We hope your time in Seattle leaves you with a great understanding of why we don’t mind the weather. Summer in Seattle (usually considered August and September for us) is truly one of the best places to be – if you hear someone say, “The Mountain is out today,” look south and you’ll be in awe of the view we regularly get of Mt. Rainier. You’ll understand that why we can’t imagine living outside the northwest. Take time to explore – take a ferry to Bainbridge Island, a tour of the houseboats on Lake Union, even stay a little later to take a float plane trip to the San Juans – or simply save these for your next vacation.

We can’t wait to host you in the great Pacific Northwest.

Ann Nault
Meadowdale High School
Lynnwood, WA

Friday, June 13, 2008

Seattle: A Pan-Asian City

If you arrive in Seattle via SeaTac’s north or south satellite you will quickly discern that you are in an international city when taking the subway to the main terminal to collect your luggage. Over the loudspeakers and the digital monitors you will hear and see directions provided in Chinese and Japanese as well as English affirming that this city is America’s Portal to the Pacific. While recently I have noted messages in other languages when landing in other cities’ airports, providing directions in Chinese and Japanese is a long-standing tradition at SeaTac.

However, Seattle isn’t simply a destination for visitors from Pacific Rim nations; this is in many ways an Asian-American city. Americans of Asian heritage have been rooted in the Puget Sound region for quite some time and today at least 17 percent of Seattle’s residents identify themselves as Asian American (not including the significant representation of the 7 percent who identify as multicultural who are of Asian heritage.) Descendents of Asian immigrants helped build much of Seattle and much of what Seattle is today reflects Asian forefathers. Bon Odori festivals and the Lunar New Year are parts of the annual calendar to which all Seattleites look forward.

There are a large number of wonderful sites to visit in Seattle that reflect the Asian American influence. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is located in lovely Volunteer Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. The Art Deco facility was originally the main Seattle Art Museum (now downtown – the Seattle Asian Art Museum is one of SAM’s 3 branches) and holds one of the finest collections of Asian Art in the United States. Its Taste Café is a great place to enjoy tea and the park in front of the view provides a commanding view of Seattle and Elliott Bay. It is also steps from the Volunteer Park Conservatory with its five houses: Bromeliad, Fern, Palm, Cactus and a Season Display House.

The recently relocated Wing Luke Museum in the International District focuses on the history, culture, and art of the Puget Sound’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. There is a lot of buzz in Seattle about the new facility which we have been looking forward to for some time. Its location -- the International District – was originally named Chinatown. It is perhaps the only area in the continental United States where Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, African Americans, Vietnamese, Koreans, and Cambodians, settled together and built one neighborhood. Today it remains a cultural hub for the Asian American community, but what the visitor will note is that rather than an Epcot like idealized version of a Chinatown it remains a working class neighborhood, largely inhabited by recent immigrants. Today significant numbers of Vietnamese, Ethiopian, and Somalian immigrants live there, hence the moniker the “ID”. As you would expect it is a destination for great Asian restaurants and bakeries. Should you visit the International District a must stop is its phenomenal, family owned Japanese supermarket Uwajimaya (which is really an Asian specialty market – this week they are featuring Filipino food). The produce and seafood are incredible, and it includes a Japanese bookstore.

Seattle is devoted to horticulture, and the city is full of magnificent public and private gardens, in part attributable to the Asian aesthetic. Specifically reflecting the Asian influence is the 3.5 acre formal Seattle Japanese Garden located in the Washington State Arboretum. It was designed and constructed under the supervision of world-renowned Japanese garden designer Juki Iida in 1960.

The sites above represent only a drop in the bucket concerning the many sites that reflect Asian American culture and contributions in Seattle; actually the Asian influence pervades most of this city.

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Seattle Area Golfing Options

Many of my friends have called or emailed asking for a Seattle-area referral for a golfing experience. I wasn’t sure if their game was refined enough for a private course or if they were “hackers” like me looking for a public course!

Regardless, I have identified five public courses that I would play if I had to; five private courses that I would play if any of my “well-healed” friends would invite me; and five of my favorite courses that you really should look into. These usually mean courses that are free of distractions like homes, BBQ’s or rude marshals.

Public Courses: Transportation will be needed. All take less than one hour to get to.

Private Courses: If you can get a tee time, each are within 30 minutes of downtown.

My favorites: Two are inside of an hour the others --*plan on a drive!

1. Druid’s Glen---short, picturesque

2. Gold Mountain*---two courses to pick from. Some water.

3. McCormick Woods*---nature at its finest.

4. Washington National*---home of the Washington Huskies.

5. The Club at Newcastle---best views of Seattle. Maybe the most expensive. My favorite for out-of-town guests. Two courses to choose from. Ask the pro.

Visit this site for driving directions and more information:

As LAC co-chair I am offering this blog posting for those of you who will be in Seattle on Monday, Tuesday or early Wednesday and looking for something to do other than shopping at Nordstrom’s!

The pre-conference sessions are fantastic. If you are low handicapper, well go ahead and golf. If you are a 20+ handicapper you need more practice so get back in to the education sessions you were going to miss!

See you in September,
Mike Willis
LAC Co-Chair
Director of College Counseling
Bellarmine Preparatory School
Tacoma, Washington

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Making the Most of the Conference Experience

Seattle 2008 will be my eighth NACAC National Conference and I can’t wait to get there. I’ve booked my travel and started to email with friends who I plan to see during the conference.
I’ve also started to think about past conferences and what I’ve learned about making the most of the conference experience:

Your second choice might surprise you. There are extra efforts being made to assure seats in all the workshop sessions, but if your first choice is too crowded, check the schedule and choose something else. In the past, some of the most interesting sessions I’ve gone to have been ones that I didn’t plan to attend.

Think global, act local. Don’t skip your S/R association meeting – even if you’re not a member (yet). The affiliate meetings are a great chance to see NACAC attendees from your home area, to see what’s going on within the association and within the profession. Who knows? You might even fill out a membership form or volunteer for a committee.

2008 is an election year. Actually, every year is an election year for NACAC’s Board of Directors, but elections are just part of what goes on in the Assembly. More than 210 delegates will meet in Seattle to conduct the association’s business and make plans for the future. While only delegates can participate in the two Assembly sessions, attendance is open and gallery seats are available.Network, network, network. There’s no place like the NACAC conference for making connections…and friends.

Be special. More than 20 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) will meet on Friday and Saturday. You can check the conference program book for times and locations, but don’t miss this opportunity to connect with colleagues who share your interests and priorities.

Stand up and be counted. Attending the General Membership Meeting is the best way to have your voice heard. The agenda is still in the works, but the proposed Bylaws revisions and change in state of incorporation will certainly be important items of business. The meeting is open to all, but voting members should bring their voting cards (found in the registration packet).

All work and no play? No way. The Saturday night social at the Experience Music Project (EMP) is an opportunity to end your conference experience on a high note. Talk, dance and mingle with old and new friends from around the world while you explore exhibits ranging from Robots to Jimi Hendrix. The conference is going to be great, so let’s make the most of it.

See you in Seattle!

Lisa Sohmer
Director, 2007-08 NACAC Board of Directors
Director of College Counseling
Garden School, NY

Send us comments on this posting.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Seattle: A Biblioholic’s Paradise

A few things you might not realize about Seattle (WA). Seattle has the highest per capita spending on books in the United States. Also, we have the highest per capita number of residents with library cards.

Nancy Pearl the executive director of the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library started the nation’s city reads a book movement. As you might have gathered we like to read. During those damp winter days we like to curl up with a double tall latte, a scone, and the newest releases reviewed in the Seattle Times. You will find that carpenters, plumbers, teachers, attorneys, physicians, mid-level managers, and of course baristas in Seattle are all readers and are often reading and discussing the same book at the same time. Reading is considered “cool” in Seattle; everyone does it.

We regard writers like rock stars here (and a lot of both are Seattle residents) and author events are packed at Town Hall, our many book stores, and the multitude of branches of the Seattle Public Library.

The Central Library actually is a tourist destination. It opened in 2004 and has arresting architecture that draws visitors from around the world. The structure is 11 stories and is 367, 987 square feet (but who’s counting?) and was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas; the building received Time magazine's top award for architecture in 2004.
The library offers both general and architectural tours that are limited to 20 people; to participate you must sign up in person. The library is only a short walk from the NACAC conference center hotels (0.38 miles). Traveling from the Sheraton, for example, you walk down 4th Avenue ( 0.2 miles) and make a right onto University Street (0.1 miles) and a left onto 6th Avenue (0.1 miles). And you’ll feel virtuous walking. My office held a staff retreat there last year and all found it fascinating.

While Seattle has its share of large box/mass retail bookstores like Borders and Barnes and Noble, the city is known for its superb independent bookstores. They include boutique book stores like Bailey-Coy on Broadway in eclectic (read bohemian/alternative) Capitol Hill (an area that is lots of fun, but like a National Geographic special) and Left Bank Books (Collectively Owned and Operated Since Its Workers since 1973) next to the Pike Place Market (a great source for far left bumper stickers and lapel buttons). The bookstore that everyone in Seattle refers to in reverential tones is the Elliott Bay Book Company.

Elliott Bay is a temple to reading and intellect. Located in historic Pioneer Square (101 South Main Street) it has over 150,000 titles housed on cedar shelves along bare brick walls. The store’s booksellers are not only well read but smart, nice, helpful and interesting. It is less than a mile from the Conference Center. Besides its location in Pioneer Square, an added incentive to visiting is the Ellott Bay Café in the store’s lower level where you can munch while read one of the newspapers or magazines from across the world upstairs for sale.

So while in town, eat your way through the Pike Place Market and digest at Left Bank, check out the wildlife on Broadway and reflect in Bailey Coy, do the tourist thing trekking around Pioneer Square and rest at Elliott Bay, or tour the majestic Seattle Public Library. These are just a few of the myriad delights that await you in the Emerald City.

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University

Monday, June 09, 2008

Planning Ahead: A Tall, Sweet Trip

Don’t miss an opportunity to see farther than you ever have or to tempt that sweet tooth during our upcoming National Conference in Seattle. Planning ahead is key so you can take full advantage of everything the city has to offer. Be it tall or chocolaty, attending has its privileges.

Tall, Dark with Legs of Steel?

If you are looking for tall, fairly dark, with a strong frame—legs of steel and a stout upper body—this guy loves to entertain. In fact, he entertains guests by the dozen and his New Year’s Eve parties are explosive. He knows no strangers! Seattleites call him a “well known symbol in the city.” Interested? I hope so, as the 606 foot Space Needle or Seattle Center has been the symbol of this glorious city since the 1962 World’s Fair. (Check out the view here!) Don’t forget to pay him—you can warm-up with him during the day or cuddle with him at night for a mere $20. For that price, you’ll get a 360 degree unobstructed view of the Seattle-Tacoma area. (Photo credit:

How Sweet It Is

Another must see and do while in Seattle is for those chocolate lovers, take the Seattle Chocolate Tour! Yes, there is actually a “Tour de Chocolat” in Seattle. In honor of Seattle’s other bean—the cocoa bean—the Chocolate Box, near Pike Place Market, has launched this three-hour tour that includes five local chocolatiers. This tour is not for the faint-of-heart as it includes a gift bag chock full of samples from each chocolatier. As you know, chocolate is expensive and this tour will cost $65, but isn’t your sweet tooth worth it? Don’t tell your dentist though.

Be it sweet or possessing a sweet view, Seattle will be a great host city this September. Either before or after the conference, you will want to explore all the city has to offer. There is much to this Northwestern city by the Sound—Puget Sound that is—so learn, relax and revitalize—not necessarily in that order—in Seattle, a city that has it all.

And if you haven't registered for the conference yet. . . do it now!

Until next time,
Brian K. Smith

Brian K. Smith is the Senior Associate Director of College Counseling at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN. He's never lived in Seattle, but he's visited on several occasions while traveling in college admissions. This year's conference will mark Brian's 10th time as an attendee.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Arriving in Seattle: Navigating the Airport

Last Friday, flying back from the PNACAC conference, people’s experience arriving in SeaTac (Seattle Tacoma International Airport) was very much on my radar screen. Of course, the services and experience vary based upon whether you arrive in the North Terminal, the South Terminal, or the Main Terminal (however, all roads – or underground subway tracks – lead to the Main Terminal.)

SeaTac’s main terminal was renovated a few years ago, and is actually pretty civilized for an airport. Now, instead of paying handsomely for a school cafeteria lunch you can actually get a decent meal. In fact, Anthony’s is a fine dining experience where you can get great seafood and a good glass of wine (the Fish Bar is actually good as well if you are in a hurry.)

It used to occur to me that it was an incredible irony that the airport in Seattle only served plonk wine and flat beer; now you can enjoy a great wine tasting experience at Vino Volo (immediately next to Borders, and a few shops down from Ivars’ Seafood Bar) and you can get microbrews. The Dilettante Café is a slice of heaven. Seattle is well known for its chocolate (some artisanal and/or organic – but after all, this is the Pacific Northwest) and Dilettante is an uber chocolate dessert destination. When ordering a slice of Rigo Yanki Cake or ephemere torte, your challenge will be deciding whether you want to eat it or to rub it in your hair. You can also blow money with lots of shops selling totchkes, the Body Shop, and the like.

Something that isn’t new but has been a long standing option at SeaTac is the opportunity for a massage. In the B concourse you can access one of the massage bars, which have happy hours (yes, I realize it staggers the imagination…)

Of course, that is all good news when you are leaving Seattle. But what about your arrival in Seattle? Here are a couple of very practical tips:

Ground transportation is not located in the main terminal, but across a sky bridge in the garage. After arrival and exiting you will be required to go downstairs to baggage claim. You will need to go back upstairs to access the sky bridge. There are two elevators, but they are hidden (one near the door) and the dark grey décor makes it more sporting finding them. If you are using a luggage cart you will need to use the elevators; otherwise the escalators up from baggage claim are your most direct route the sky bridge. By the way, if you smoke you will have to go outside the terminal to do so… if you don’t smoke, beware of those who do chain smoke adjacent to the doors outside baggage claim, so be prepared for the aroma of cigarettes.

Once you enter the garage you will need to go downstairs (here the elevators are obvious and convenient; the escalators are easy to find and readily available as well.) Important comfort note: THERE ARE NO BATHROOMS IN THE GROUND TRANSPORTATION AREA; the bathrooms are only in the main terminal. Take care of your needs before looking for a cab.

Shuttle Express is the most economical option for getting into downtown. It can also require a L O N G tedious wait on backless benches (they like to pack them full :)

The Grey Line Buses go to many of the major hotels, but waiting for one and getting to your destination might seem like eternity. Taking a cab downtown is easy, relatively cheap (not much more than Shuttle Express) and fast. Taking a limo into town is pretty reasonable too, and incredibly comfortable. I regard time like money and I put a priority on time and comfort in getting to a destination. So, if you can swing it I recommend a cab. It will be about a 15-20 minute ride from the airport to one of the conference hotels.

Happy travels,

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Get the Real Story on College Admission This Year in Seattle

It’s that time of year—education reporters across the country are writing about college admission. Themes that have dominated the press coverage include “uncertainty,” “chaos,” and “competition.” While there is no disputing that college admission continues to produce anxiety, it’s important to see the full picture. The NACAC Conference is the place where you can get the birds-eye view on this process.

There are two things I like most about the NACAC Conference in this regard. First, the conference allows us to share our research on college admission, talk about what it means, and learn how to improve it. The nuances of the admission process as it spans the thousands of institutions in the United States are often lost in the trimmed-down format of the national media.

For instance, I always get approving nods from session attendees when we talk about the fact that the average acceptance rate for four year colleges and universities remains at around 70 percent, nearly identical to the average acceptance rate in the 1980s. Not something you see in stories about historically low acceptance rates at some of our colleges and universities.
Second, I always benefit from the ideas, information, and advice that I receive from people I meet at the conference. Some of our most interesting work stems from conversations I have had with members at the conference—core elements of the NACAC State of College Admission report, NACAC’s scholarship scam prevention efforts, and NACAC’s DREAM Act advocacy are just a few examples.

As someone who works for you, I am looking forward to the opportunity to listen and learn from the people who know this story better than anyone. I’ve also never been to Seattle, so I’m excited about seeing new places and familiar faces.

Hope to see you there!

David Hawkins
Director of Public Policy and Research