After 23 years at Bellevue College, President Jean Floten will be leaving in August to start a new position as Chancellor of Western Governors University – Washington (WGU).
WGU is the first nonprofit, completely online university that was created back in 1997 by governors in 19 Western states.
They are a national university that currently has over 23,000 students from all across the United States. They offer over 50 bachelor’s and master’s degrees, ranging from business to health.
According to WGU’s website, their mission “is to improve quality and expand access to post-secondary educational opportunities by providing a means for individuals to learn independent of time and place and to earn competency-based degrees and other credentials that are credible to both academic institutions and employers.”
The Seattle Times commented that the “Washington Governors University makes good call with Floten: The choice of Bellevue College President Jean Floten to lead the Washington state arm of Western Governors University carries credibility and innovation.”
At BC, Floten pushed for a successful online learning program and helped create bachelor’s degree programs, which ultimately allowed the college to drop the “community” in its name.
Moreover, Floten entered the college in 1989 when enrollment was under 20,000 students. Today, BC has a current enrollment of over 39,000 students.
Not only that but Floten also helped the Bellevue College Foundation thrive by helping raise over $35 million which helped provide exceptional learning opportunities for all BC students.
According to Dale King, President of the BC Foundation and Vice President of GLY Construction, “Through her [Floten’s] leadership, additional millions in federal, state and local grants also came to the college. Jean has always articulated the values of the greater community in her work at the College. Her passion for removing barriers to student success and for the power of education to improve lives has inspired so many to give.”
The BC Board of Trustees will soon be appointing an interim president and will then embark on a national search for a new president. The chair of the Board of Trustees, Vijay Vashee, will soon release new information on this procedure.
Vashee, who was appointed to the Board of Trustees in January 2002, commented: “Bellevue College has been blessed with Floten’s guidance for the last 23 years. Major impact has been felt ranging from early learning to various areas in the computing field. Her departure is a clear loss for the college. Fortunately the State will still benefit from her presence. I wish her the best as she continues to impact education in the State of Washington.”
Additionally, Douglas Brown, president of the Bellevue College Association of Higher Education and BC faculty president commented, “Those of us who have been at the college for even half of her long tenure are keenly aware of the extensive growth and change that she has both catalyzed and managed. In very many ways the Bellevue College we know is an expression of her vision and a testament to her leadership.”
In an email to the college faculty and staff, Floten said, “Bellevue College is an extraordinary place…Having the honor of serving as president has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Best and most satisfying has been the chance to perform important work with such a group of talented and dedicated people on behalf of our students, and to contribute to the ongoing transformation of our college in vital service to our community.”
“I am confident the College will prosper under new leadership. The opportunity to start a new endeavor is exciting and invigorating for me.”
Floten will clearly be missed at Bellevue College. To hear her speak about her departure, make sure to attend BC’s “End of the Year” celebration in June. Look out for a full interview with President Floten in next week’s issue of The Jibsheet.