New president of BC

Dr. Jerry Weber to take over for Interim President Jill Wakefield in the fall

On March 28, The Bellevue College Board of Trustees announced that they have voted to select Dr. Jerry Weber, previous president of the College of Lake County and Kankakee Community College as the next president of Bellevue College. Weber holds many qualifications, including serving on state and national boards and councils for community colleges related to international education, technology, educational policy and sustainability. He also served as an adjunct faculty at Harvard University and holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and an M.A. in Educational

Measurement and Statistics from the University of Iowa, as well as an M.A in Linguistics and English Literature and a B.A in English from Northern Illinois University.
Currently, the role of BC’s president has been occupied by Dr. Jill Wakefield. “Jill was willing to take the job and kind of tie things over at the college and help us keep moving the line on a few things, but she was very specific that she was going to be here for a year, and a year only,” said Economics Program Chair Chace Stiehl.

The Bellevue College Board of Trustees created a presidential search advisory committee with staff, faculty, students and members of the community to search for presidential candidates.
“The presidential search was super organized. We needed to get it into a time frame that made sense and folks met on Saturdays and over holiday weekends since we needed to keep up with the market. We went through the whole process with community members and student members. People were impressed with how quickly we were able to put it together,” explained Stiehl.

Weber will take on his new role in fall at the start of the new school year. “Jerry Weber has communicated that he will be taking some time to understand more about Bellevue College in his new position. He is also eager to connect with the Bellevue College community. He has planned at least one visit before his start around August. There’s no set time, although a typical contract renews on a rolling basis and I imagine it would be the same thing here,” said Board of Trustees Student Trustee Marianne Albay.

Bellevue College ran a collaborative process to select the new president. “We wanted to make sure that we could take input from all the people on the committee and there were quite a few people on the committee” said Dean of Undergraduate research and Search Committee Co-chair Gita Bangera.

Weber’s experience with leading large colleges in the past made him an appealing candidate to the search committee. “His current college won awards for diversity, for sustainability, and for international education. Those are things that are important to us at Bellevue College. Diversity, sustainability – we are very strong on both of those things and our international education is also growing,” Bangera added.

Despite Weber’s list of qualifications, not everyone is happy with the nomination. “Initially looking at his credentials he was very qualified and seemed like a good candidate. At the student forum he stated that he met with the student government once a month and also said he doesn’t think he should be meeting with students that often because he has other things to attend to. I think he could possibly be a good candidate, but he needs to be much more involved with students on campus,” stated Associated Student Government External Legislative Affairs Representative Jahkari Aujla-Singh.

Students are concerned about the new president because of comments. “He is going to have to learn that he must listen to students because they are the biggest constituent group on campus and without students he and other administrators wouldn’t have a job,” Aujla-Singh added.

Weber was interested in coming to Bellevue College because of the northwest’s dynamic environment, as well as local businesses and entrepreneurship. “The goals that I have will be the goals of the institution and the goals of the board. What I do is going to be dictated by an overall vision which I hope to develop in the first year, but I’m not going to be doing that vision myself. That will be the shared government and college community,” said Weber.

Weber will work to continue Bellevue College’s traditions of diversity, sustainability and student success. “Student success is to be expected here. There’s also a strong interest in the whole issue of diversity, inclusiveness and equity. With the changing demographics, that’s important. I have an interest in issues like sustainability and global engagement, and those are both very present here,” Weber noted.

Despite concerns about his plans for student interaction, Weber discussed that he plans to work with the Associated Student Government and interact with students. “Some of the most enjoyable moments in my career have been talking with students and asking them about their careers and mentoring them,” said Weber.