Meet BC’s new provost

The president of Bellevue College is Jerry Weber. Although his exact job description might be a little bit blurry to the average student, many students at least know who he is and have a general idea of what he has done. However, a provost is a far more nuanced role involved in the framework of colleges around the world. Bellevue College has recently settled the three-month search for a new provost, which began in late January.

“After conducting a rigorous search that included open campus conversations with each finalist, Dr. Jones’ executive experience in both instruction and student affairs, as well as her collaborative approach in working with faculty, staff and students, made her an excellent choice for this new position. We’re very excited to have her join our community and apply her considerable knowledge-base to the college’s initiatives,” said Dr. Weber.

Although Dr. Jones will be the first provost in Bellevue College history, her role has a specific set of rules to follow. In Bellevue College’s official press release, it states that “The position [of provost] reports to the president and will be responsible for academic and student affairs, the largest areas of the college. The Provost will collaborate with faculty, staff, students, members of the president’s cabinet and external stakeholders to provide leadership, policy direction and management.”

The new staff member, Dr. Kristen Jones, earned her Doctorate of Education in Community College Leadership from Oregon State University and, before joining Bellevue College, worked in three different community colleges “including a mid-sized college in Oregon, a rural institution in Montana, and an urban college that is part of a three-college District in Seattle, Washington,” according to her biography. In the various colleges that Jones has worked at previously, she has come up with different plans to both reorganize faculty members and increase productivity. At North Seattle College, where she was the Vice President of Instruction, Jones managed to lower the instructional budget by $2 million.

“Dr. Jones brings substantive expertise to the role,” said Dr. Weber, “She has held executive leadership positions for both large and small community colleges, and her collaborative approach has resulted in significant, successful initiatives in both instruction and student affairs.”

Jones herself is quite excited to begin taking on the role as provost for Bellevue College. Her decision to apply for the position extended from the reputation that Bellevue College has as one of the best, and most affordable, schools in the state. When asked what she was most excited about was “Can I say ‘everything’? But if I have to choose one thing, it’s the chance to work with this campus community. As part of my interview, I presented at an open forum and then answered questions from faculty, staff and students. The room was packed, and I understood why this college has a great reputation – it’s because people really care about the students who come here. They want every student to have the best possible chance to succeed. Their commitment to that mission is something I share.”

As far as Jones’ goals go when mentioning her new position, her main approach begins with working with the people who are already at Bellevue College and know how the ropes work. “My approach is very collaborative. I’m excited to meet with faculty, staff and students to get a better understanding of what we’re doing well, and what the needs are. I’ll also dig in to what kinds of initiatives are already underway to support student success, and identify where my experience could be an asset. I think it’s important to listen to as many stakeholders as possible, especially in the first few months, to ensure that my goals match the needs of the college. So don’t be surprised if you see me in the cafeteria asking students about their experience (I also hear the French fries are great).”