Bellevue College Unveils Committee in Search for New President

Sean Wu // The Watchdog

Bellevue College is on the lookout for a new president. Gov. Gary Locke has been serving for two years as the interim president, guiding BC through COVID-19 and lockdown. He brought his prior experiences, for example, serving as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under Obama and as a U.S. ambassador to China, to elevate BC’s stature. Locke encouraged a cultural shift on campus and provided stability in a time of chaos.

Now, BC has put together a committee to search for a new president. This includes: 

  • Rich Fukutaki, trustee & search advisory committee chair 
  • Dr. Consuelo Grier, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and search advisory committee DEI advocate
  • Richard Leigh, trustee
  • Frances Dujon Reynolds, vice president of Human Resources
  • Jennie Mayer, Chemistry faculty and Achieving the Dream (ATD) co-lead
  • Sara Sanders Gardner, director of the Neurodiversity Navigators Program 
  • Dr. Alicia Keating Polson, executive director of the President’s Office.

Additionally, the committee has teamed up with EQU Advisors, who will send out a public document to recruit strong candidates and will manage feedback from the BC community. To better understand the BC community and the college’s needs, two listening sessions were hosted last week where all BC community members were welcome. On Wednesday, Robert Luke and Veena Abraham, J.D., from EQU Advisors posed questions to the committee and community members in attendance to see what they should present to candidates in the recruitment document.

The overall consensus is that BC has many attractive qualities, including that it is the largest institution in the Washington Community and Technical Colleges system and that it is structured similar to a four-year college. The location of BC in the technology hub of Bellevue and Seattle, along with the infrastructure and financial stability, makes it a perfect opportunity for someone interested in college leadership.

BC has a history of being innovative, starting with being the first to drop “community” from the title and offer bachelor’s degrees. From the neurodiversity program to the many different institutions and programs, BC stands out for having a lot of unique resources. The bigger budget of BC, compared to other technical colleges in the region, allows the new president to try new and different things. The committee is hoping to find someone who wants to continue this growth and has an outward-looking perspective. Some suggested requests include that the new president would need to continue to grow partnerships in the business and technology world and build on BC’s historical programs, such as RISE Learning Institute.

The search is only starting and strong candidates are still being found. Luke of the EQU Advisors explained how it is an open process, which means that candidates are not limited to having backgrounds in higher education, but it is likely that the bulk of the candidates will come from within the sector to satisfy BC’s needs. To let the EQU Advisors and members of the search advisory committee know your thoughts and opinions about the requirements of the next president, there is a survey. You can also reach out to Alicia Keating Polson for any questions about the listening sessions or the survey.

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