Thomas Keegan has gone back to his roots, having been named president of his alma mater, Skagit Valley College.

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MOUNT VERNON — Skagit Valley College President Thomas Keegan has gone back to his roots, looking out at the school he used to attend from the broad windows of his new office.

Keegan attended 1976-78, playing on the college soccer team as a forward and on the baseball team as a shortstop.

He then came back to Mount Vernon as a graduate intern at the school while pursuing his master’s at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

Keegan returned to Mount Vernon on March 12 after being selected in November to replace retiring President Gary Tollefson.

“It was in the classroom and on the athletic fields and in my meetings with my advisers and coaches and mentors that I decided I wanted to be a community-college professional,” Keegan said.

“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I came here with really little or no concept of what academic discipline I wanted to study, and I left here two years later completely passionate about that discipline.”

He’s been in the community-college system in Washington for 33 years, most recently as president at Peninsula College in Port Angeles.

“I’ve always kept track of Skagit Valley College,” he said. “It has a special place in my heart.”

During his first week, Keegan’s days have been filled with meeting people and learning about the college’s issues. He expects to continue that process.

“My job is to listen, learn, refine, and respect the culture and respect the values of the college and community,” he said.

He defined his leadership style as governed by basic principles: teaching and learning, collaboration, respect, integrity and open and honest communication.

In the spirit of these, he plans to hold a monthly meeting with staff members and faculty on both of the college’s campuses — Mount Vernon and Oak Harbor — and focus on topics and share information that can’t be explored through just an email.

He’ll be looking for valuable feedback, he said.