Evergreen Announces Candidates to be Next College President

Candidates Will Visit Campus at the Beginning of February

By Issac Scott

Evergreen has announced its four candidates to fill Les Purce’s seat as college president next year. The first candidate, Dr. Luis Pedraja, is scheduled to visit Evergreen on Monday, Feb. 2 and Tuesday, Feb. 3 delivering a speech and answering questions by students, staff, and faculty. The forums for students with Pedraja will take place in the Recital Hall in the COM Building at noon both days, with staff and faculty forums later in the day.

Dr. Rhona Free will visit campus on Wednesday, Feb. 4, followed by Dr. Margaret Madden on Monday, Feb. 9, and Dr. George Bridges on Wednesday, Feb. 11. Madden was originally scheduled to be at Evergreen on Wednesday, Jan. 28 but had to reschedule because heavy snow caused flight cancellations on the East Coast.

Luis Pedraja, provost and vice president of academic affairs (VPAA) at Antioch University in Los Angeles, has a background in theology and religious studies. From 2000 to 2004, he was the VPAA, dean, and professor of theology at Memphis Theological Seminary. He also co-founded two nonprofits, assisting cancer patients and pet welfare.

Rhona Free is provost and VPAA at Eastern Connecticut State University, with degrees in economics from University of Notre Dame and Sarah Lawrence College. She was named a 2004 U.S. Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Madden has been the provost and VPAA at State University of New York at Potsdam since 2002, where she is also a professor of psychology. She holds a doctorate in psychology from University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and her work focuses on feminism, gender and higher education.

George Bridges is currently the president of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., and previously worked at University of Washington. He has degrees in sociology and criminology from University of Pennsylvania and University of Washington. According to Whitman’s website, “His areas of expertise include social control, criminal justice, juvenile justice, crime and its measurement, and research methods and statistics.” Before working in academia, he worked as a social scientist in the staff office of the Attorney General of the United States.

The taskforce in charge of hiring the new president hopes to make a decision and job offer in March. The college is spending around $70,000 on the president search hiring a private consulting firm, according to John Carmichael, deputy to the president and secretary to the board of trustees. The task force held a public forum in October to get student input on the process before closing public comment in December. After the campus visits, students will be invited to comment again. “There will be an online form that people can fill out for each candidate,” says Carmichael, “or they can send e-mail directly. ”

Dr. Les Purce was appointed Evergreen’s president in 2000, after serving in the college administration for 10 years.

Before coming to Evergreen in 1989, Purce worked at Washington State University and Idaho State University. While in Idaho, he became the first black elected official in the state, serving first as a city councilor and then mayor of Pocatello.

Purce holds degrees in psychology, education, and a doctorate in counselor education from Idaho State University. He also has honorary doctorate degrees from University of North Carolina, Asheville and SUNY Genesco, NY.


Dr. Luis Pedraja

Open Forum:  Monday, Feb. 2, noon to 1:15 p.m.

Provost and vice president for academic affairs at Antioch University Los Angeles.  His previous professional appointments include vice president of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  He holds degrees from University of Virginia (PhD, philosophical theology and religious studies), The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div, theology), and Stetson University (BA, religion).


Dr. Rhona Free

Open Forum:  Wednesday, Feb. 4, noon to 1:15 p.m.

Provost and vice resident for Academic Affairs at Eastern Connecticut State University where she previously served as director of the Center for Educational Excellence and as a Professor in the Department of Economics.   She holds degrees from University of Notre Dame (PhD and MA, economics) and Sarah Lawrence College (BA).


Dr. Margaret Madden

Open Forum:  Friday, Feb. 9 noon to 1:15 p.m.

Provost and vice president for academic affairs at State University of New York at Potsdam, where she is also a tenured professor of psychology.  She holds degrees from University of Massachusetts, Amherst (PhD, psychology, and MS, psychology) and University of Wisconsin, Madison (BA, psychology).


Dr. George Bridges

Open Forum:  Wednesday, Feb. 11, noon to 1:15 p.m.

President of Whitman College and previously served as dean and vice provost of undergraduate education at the University of Washington.  He holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (PhD, sociology, and MA, criminology) and from the University of Washington (BA, sociology).