Bellevue College selects Gary Locke as interim president

Locke formerly served as governor of Washington State

  • Friday, May 29, 2020 1:28pm
  • News
Gary Locke formerly served as governor of Washington State. Courtesy photo

Gary Locke formerly served as governor of Washington State. Courtesy photo

Bellevue College has a new leader, former state Governor Gary Locke.

At a special meeting Thursday, May 28, the Bellevue College Board of Trustees unanimously selected Locke as the college’s interim president. The Board of Trustees made the final selection from a diverse and impressive pool of candidates based on the presidential profile, interviews and open forums and the significant input received from the campus community.

“I am honored and excited to take on the role of Interim Bellevue College President and lead the institution at this critical time. I am humbled by the Board of Trustees’ trust in me, as I know there were several excellent candidates. Bellevue College is known for innovation, outstanding faculty and students, and courses and programs that meet the needs and desires of its diverse students and community. I am eager to help build on and expand that regional and national reputation,” Locke said in a statement. “Working closely with faculty, staff, students, and the community, we must focus on bringing healing to the campus and continuing to provide enriching education despite this challenging environment of COVID-19 and financial crisis.”

Locke is the first Chinese American to be elected governor in U.S. history and the first Asian American governor on the mainland. In his two-terms as Governor, Washington was ranked one of America’s four best-managed states.

Locke described himself as a nontraditional college president candidate and someone with a passion for education policy. Locke wants to encourage a cultural shift on campus, provide stability and elevate the college’s stature as it searches for a permanent president.

“The Board is pleased to announce the appointment of former Governor Gary Locke as the Interim President after a rigorous process, including many listening sessions and a full slate of campus interviews. All the comments and factors were taken into consideration as the Board selected from a robust pool of three candidates who each offered different strengths,” Rich Fukutaki, Chair of the Bellevue College Board of Trustees, stated in a press release on the decision.

Bellevue College strives to create a vibrant campus community that supports a diverse student body, faculty, and staff. Pluralism is promoted in all aspects of the college and is an essential part of their mission and goals.

During the Obama administration, Governor Locke served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and most recently as U.S. Ambassador to China. Governor Locke attended Yale University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and received his law degree from Boston University.

Governor Locke is a leader in education, employment, trade, health care, human rights, immigration reform, privacy and the environment. His innovations in government efficiency, customer focus, priority-based budgeting, as well as successful and under-budget management of high-risk initiatives, have won him acclaim from nationally recognized authors and organizations, including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

The appointment comes after the resignation of former Bellevue College President Jerry Weber and former vice president Gayle Colston Barge in March, following the vice president’s defacement of an art installation about Japanese American incarceration.

“This is a unique and challenging time for our community and our college. The Board believes Gary Locke is the leader to work with the internal constituencies on campus and lay the foundation for necessary growth,” Fukutaki stated in the release. “He brings the experience of navigating through difficult budgeting challenges and building partnerships with the community, businesses and various government entities. From the variety of his experiences, Governor Locke will bring a fresh perspective to addressing student success and insuring the remote/hybrid/in-person learning environment works for all students.”

Locke will assume his duties as Interim President on June 15.

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