President Jean Floten is leaving the local college to take a position as Chancellor of Western Governors University Washington, a new and online only competency-based university.
The Bellevue College Board of Trustees plans to appoint an interim president and to launch a national search for a new president, according to a news release.
Floten said in a news release by WGU Washington, which was started by the legislature in April, the school will offer access to higher education to more people, which she said reflected closely her goals as an educator.
“I am committed to higher education because it has the power to improve lives and livelihoods," Floten said. "WGU Washington gives more Washington students access to a high-quality, affordable education.”
Floten has been at Bellevue College since 1989, the longest-serving of the school's seven presidents since its establishment in 1966. Floten was at the helm when the school made the transition from Bellevue Community College to Bellevue College in 2009, after the school stated offering bachelor degrees.
"Bellevue College has been blessed with Jean Floten’s guidance for the last 23 years," said Vijay Vashee, chair of the Bellevue College Board of Trustees in a prepared statement. "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."
Before taking the helm at Bellevue College, Floten served a stint at Edmonds Community College, including a period of time as its executive vice president.
Bellevue College now serves about 39,000 students annually in its bachelor and associate degree programs, up from about 20,000 at the start of Floten’s tenure. The school has more than doubled its classroom infrastructure at its main campus, and recently opened a new North Campus for its continuing education programs.
Floten serves on the Educational Testing Service national advisory board and has been a member of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Key Bank Advisory Board. She has been recognized for her leadership in technology education, funding, innovations in teaching, diversity, student access and other education issues.
Robert Mendenhall, president of WGU Washington, said that Floten’s history within the community college system will serve WGU Washington well as it seeks to complement the offerings of the state’s community colleges.
WGU Washington will celebrate its launch and the new university's partnership with the state's community colleges Thursday morning at Seattle Central Community College's Broadway Performance Hall. The event will begin with remarks by Floten and other dignitaries at 9:30 a.m.