Notes from the President

Jun 29, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Interim President these past three years. As I said at the Year-End Celebration, I never saw my interim position as a placeholder—to hold down the fort—but rather to help bring some stability to the campus, accelerate change, and to help reset the table for the next president. Working with so many dedicated and passionate staff and faculty, we have accomplished a lot. From the Online Excellence Teaching Academy; two pride crosswalks; an outdoor art corridor highlighting diversity and social justice; stabilized and now growing enrollments; strong college finances; funding for a new W building; increased diversity of students, faculty and staff; to finally integrating and operationalizing Guided Pathways and Achieving the Dream.

It has indeed been a great honor and a privilege.

Departing Observation and Challenge

I have long been concerned about the growing socio-economic stratification within our society and evidenced within large companies and organizations in our region—largely along racial/ethnic lines. So many of these large companies and organizations are starving for talent and thus recruiting out-of-state to meet their needs. At the same time, they have so many loyal and long serving employees—often people of color—who want to move up within the organization but don’t have the requisite skills. Companies say they support and encourage the continuing education of their employees, but few do much about it. We in higher education say to those companies and employees: “Come to us for our courses and programs!”  But so much of what we offer does not meet their specific needs or is offered at inconvenient times.

So for the last year and a half I have been reaching out to large organizations seeking partners to break the paradigm. Thanks to the leadership and engagement of Institutional Advancement and the School of Business and Technology (formerly IBIT), we are working with T-Mobile, Alaska Airlines, Virginia Mason, Costco, Tutta Bella, and others to upskill their workers with specially designed courses so they can compete for these good paying jobs. We are also willing to “Go to them” to offer our programs and courses instead of waiting for their employees to come to us. As a result, we are teaching computer skills to the tribal elders of the Snoqualmie Tribe atthe Snoqualmie Reservation. And this fall we will be teaching English as a Second Language to Snoqualmie Casino employees atthe casino and at times convenient to them. Our motto is: “We want Bellevue College to be the regional education partner of (Organization X) offering concierge customized services and programs.”

Bellevue College can lead the way to a new approach by both business and the CTCs in serving the needs of workers in our region!



Summer enrollments, while much smaller than the rest of the year, are substantially up from projections assumed in the current budget—the highest in the past 8-10 years! Let’s hope that continues into the full academic year.

Exterior Lighting Upgrades

One thing so many have noticed and long complained about (including me): the dim or non-existent lighting along the walkways and corridors throughout the campus. The budget just approved by the Board of Trustees includes over $500,000 to upgrade and increase all our exterior corridor lighting. This is important for safety as well as creating a welcoming environment when the days are cloudy and dark and certainly in the evenings. The work should be completed by January.

Human Resources

One of the long-time areas of concern among faculty and staff has revolved on HR processes. But thanks to the awareness of these concerns within HR and their hard work, much change and improvement has occurred in their business practices and services.


  • Cleared the backlog of classified employee reclassifications and almost done with exempt employee reclassification reviews

Performance Management/Professional Development:

  • Established Supervisory Excellence training series to provide on-going development for new and current supervisors.
  • Revamped exempt employee performance evaluation process to foster on-going performance conversations, positive relationships between supervisors and their teams, goal setting, and feedback.

Recruitment process:

  • Contracted with an outside vendor to handle reference checks freeing hiring managers of this task.
  • Streamlined the screening committee process by removing rankings from the screening committee recommendations, minimizing conflict around rankings and mitigating bias.


  • Continued implementation of salary adjustments for exempt employees in accordance with the Salary Survey to reflect market pay for comparable positions.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has been a major focus of my tenure these past three years. Thanks to the great work of our Office of DEI, the Equity for All task force, and faculty and staff, much progress has been made, although much more work remains and can never end. Thanks to dedicated funding from the Legislature, some exciting and important initiatives will be launched next year.

One way in which we can evaluate our effectiveness in the recruitment and retention of students and employees of color is by constantly tracking our progress trends over time, and benchmarking ourselves against our geographic area. As of the 2020 Census, our district service area is composed of approximately 43% people of color, while the number is almost 46% for all of King County. This chart provides summary figures of the proportion of students and employees of color benchmarked against our service area’s population proportion of 43%. Faculty are inclusive of both full-time and part-time faculty, and staff are inclusive of both exempt and classified employees.

Gary Locke

Interim President