The Board of Trustees for Bellevue College announced Former Gov. Gary Locke as their pick for Interim President. Locke was one of three finalists chosen by the board of trustees for community input before making a final decision. You can read our earlier coverage of Locke and the other finalists here.
In the meeting, the board did not explicitly state their reasons for choosing Gov. Locke, but they emphasized that the choice was a difficult one. “I couldn’t believe the quality of the candidates. It was just amazing,” commented Vice President Greg Dietzel, and was echoed by a number of other board members.
Dietzel later hinted that the Board of Trustees may have found a permanent president as well, mentioning that through the process “we think that we might have identified some strong candidates or a strong candidate for future consideration as well.”
On multiple occasions, board members commented on how grateful they were for the high levels of engagement and interest in the process, and the abundance of feedback they received. “The process itself was heartening in terms of how the campus obviously really cares and wants the best for our students, as evidenced by how much participation that we saw,” remarked Board Member Lisa Chin. According to the email announcement the next day, over 275 people attended the campus-wide open forums, in addition to the many other student leaders and interest groups that had further opportunities to interact with the candidates.
The board also stressed their gratitude for Acting President Dr. Kristen Jones, who stepped up to take over for Dr. Jerry Weber in the wake of the mural defacement scandal, and was shortly thereafter saddled with the unexpected additional responsibility of quickly transitioning to online school in the face of COVID-19.
Gov. Locke will take over from Dr. Jones on June 15 at an annual salary of $281,000. According to the Board’s email, his top priorities will be “will be addressing the campus culture and DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] issues, while also focusing on financial sustainability given the budget implications of COVID-19.”
We reached out more than two weeks ago to Gov. Locke for comment on his appointment. He has not yet responded.