Posted April 10, 2015 by Cooper Point Journal in News
 
 

George Bridges to Step in as New College President

George Briges

Evergreen president Les Purce welcomes his successor George Bridges. JAMIE NADEL

 

By Issac Scott

George Bridges will be Evergreen’s next college president. That was the word from the Board of Trustees on Monday, Mar. 16 at an announcement ceremony in the Longhouse, where Bridges appeared beside current president Thomas “Les” Purce. Bridges will officially start the job on October 1, but will be on campus over the summer and fall, including to lead the fall convocation.

“The opportunity to serve as Evergreen’s next president is an extraordinary honor,” Bridges said at the announcement. “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.”

“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,” said Keith Kessler, chair of the Board of Trustees. “We’re extremely pleased to have him as our next president.”

Bridges will leave his current job as president of Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Washington, where he has been since 2005. A Seattle native, Bridges began his academic career at University of Washington in the early 1970s, before pursuing graduate studies at University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a masters degree in criminology, and a doctorate in sociology. He later worked as a social scientist in the staff office of the attorney general of the United States, researching federal law and justice policy. He has testified about legal policy before the U.S. Congress, the Washington State Legislature, and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

One of Bridges’ main accomplishments during his decade at Whitman was his Now is the Time fundraising campaign, which raised over $147 million for the college, according to Whitman’s website.

“He put the college on a sounder financial footing than ever before, but he also pushed forward with a number of curricular and extra-curricular initiatives that will serve the college well,” Timothy Kaufman-Osborn, Whitman’s provost and dean of the faculty, told The Pioneer, Whitman’s student newspaper.

When Bridges spoke at a public forum at Evergreen in February, he signaled that, as president, he would use his political connections to boost state support for the college.

“I see this as a wonderful opportunity to strengthen, with the skills and knowledge I have, in consultation with really smart people here, really passionate, really talented people, to take the institution forward,” he said. “And I think there’s a willingness on the part of legislators to support that, in my conversations with them.”

Bridges’ hiring was the result of a more than $70,000 selection process, which began last spring, led by the Presidential Search Disappearing Task Force (DTF), partnered with Academic Search, a higher education hiring firm based in Washington D.C. John Carmichael, secretary to the Board of Trustees, defended the hiring of an outside firm, writing, on Greener Commons, that the vast majority of colleges seeking new presidents use such firms, and that the consultants would help create a better, more diverse pool of applicants.

The Presidential Search DTF consisted of 18 people, made up of faculty, staff, students, and trustees. The search committee also included some high-profile Washingtonians: Gerry Alexander, former chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court; Lynda Weinman, an Evergreen graduate and co-founder of Lynda.com; and Craig Chance, an Evergreen graduate and senior vice president of Columbia Bank.

The student body was represented in the committee by Kandi Blauman, Andrew Pawlicki-Sinclair, and Debra Peri.

As president, Bridges will earn $300,000 a year, while overseeing an approximately $190 million biennial budget, 250 faculty, and more than 400 staff.