The Bellevue College Board of Trustees this week selected former Governor of Washington, Gary Locke, as interim president of the 54-year-old institution of higher education.

Gary Locke

After an extensive search, interviews, public forums, and input from the campus community, the board convened a special meeting and unanimously selected Locke among a pool of three final candidates.

“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,” Rich Fukutaki, chair of the Bellevue College Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “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.”

The other candidates included Dr. Yoshiko Harden, formerly the vice president for diversity and the chief diversity officer for the college, and Dr. Raúl Rodríguez, who currently serves as the interim president of East Los Angeles College.

Locke, the first Chinese American to be elected governor in the United States and former American ambassador to China, was described in a college statement as a “nontraditional college president candidate and someone who has a passion for education.”

Board chair Fukutaki said the college is looking forward to the fresh perspectives Locke will bring to the college and its students beginning June 15.

“This is a unique and challenging time for our community and our college,” Fukutaki said in a statement. “The board believes Gary Locke is the leader to work with the internal constituencies on campus and lay the foundation for necessary growth. He brings the experience of navigating through difficult budgeting challenges and building partnerships with the community, businesses, and various government entities.”

The president position was originally vacated after former president Jerry Weber stepped down in the aftermath of a controversial alteration in February to a campus mural remembering Japanese American internment. Provost Kristen Jones has served as acting president throughout the selection process.