(Olympia, Wash.) The board of trustees of The Evergreen State College announced today its selection of George Bridges, Ph.D., as the college’s next president. Bridges, who was selected from a large pool of accomplished candidates, has been the president of Walla Walla-based Whitman College, one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, for the past decade. Prior to leading Whitman College, Bridges served as dean and vice provost of undergraduate education at the University of Washington. He holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D., Sociology, and M.A., Criminology) and from the University of Washington (B.A., Sociology).
“George Bridges is an exceptional leader with deep experience at public and private institutions, large and small,” said Keith Kessler, chair of The Evergreen State College board of trustees. “It was clear from our interviews and campus forums, and from speaking with his professional colleagues, that George will be a strong and effective advocate for Evergreen and its bold approach to interdisciplinary teaching and learning. We’re extremely pleased to have him as our next president.”
“I am absolutely delighted by the decision,” Bridges said upon learning of the board’s action. “The opportunity to serve as Evergreen’s next president is an extraordinary honor. Given the college’s strong national reputation as a leading public liberal arts institution and its dedicated and talented board members, faculty, staff and students, I view this appointment as a unique and rare privilege. I look forward to learning about the college’s aspirations and expectations from all members of the Evergreen community and to meeting the many Evergreen alumni in every corner of the country.”
Evergreen’s presidential search process was informed by a search committee that included faculty, staff, students and trustees. The committee also included alumni and representatives from beyond the college including Gerry Alexander, former chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court; Lynda Weinman, Evergreen alumna and executive chair of the board and co-founder of the online learning company Lynda.com; and Craig Chance, Evergreen alumnus, past chair of The Evergreen State College Foundation and senior vice president of Columbia Bank. The college also held open candidate forums to which the public was invited.
Bridges’ official start date is October 1, but he will be on campus for several events this summer and fall, including fall convocation. The annual salary for the position is $300,000.
Dr. Thomas L. “Les” Purce announced in May 2014 that he would retire this summer. He has served as Evergreen’s president since July of 2000 after serving as Washington State University’s vice president of extended university affairs and dean of academic programs. Between 1989 and 1995, Dr. Purce served in several roles at Evergreen, including vice president for college advancement, interim president and executive vice president. His retirement date is expected to be August 31, 2015.
Founded in 1967 and opened in 1971, Evergreen is a nationally acclaimed public liberal arts institution recognized for its innovative interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. The college has been noted as one of the nation’s best colleges by the Princeton Review, the Fiske Guide to Colleges, US News and World Report and Washington Monthly. Evergreen has also been recognized as one of the nation’s top “green” colleges and one of the best schools for military veterans. In addition to its undergraduate offerings at its main Olympia campus, an upper division program in Tacoma and a reservation-based program serving Native American communities, Evergreen offers three graduate programs: a Master in Teaching, Master of Environmental Studies and Master of Public Administration. The college has approximately 4,200 students.