Gary Locke (Photo by George Liu)
“Freedom of expression is one of the hallmarks of our colleges and universities,” Gary Locke told the Northwest Asian Weekly.
The former governor of our state was selected on May 28 as Bellevue College’s interim president in a unanimous vote.
Rich Fukutaki, Chair of the Bellevue College Board of Trustees, said the board chose Locke “after a rigorous process, including many listening sessions and a full slate of campus interviews.”
You may recall that Bellevue College removed its president, Dr. Jerry Weber, in March, along with VP of Advancement, Dr. Gayle Barge, following outrage over the defacement of a mural of the Japanese American incarceration.
“What the vice president did was so shocking and unacceptable, period,” said Locke. “We have to ask ourselves….are our policies demeaning and disrespectful, and do they divide or unite us?”
Locke is the first Chinese American to be elected governor in U.S. history, and he served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Ambassador to China under the Obama administration.
Locke, who will assume his duties as interim president on June 15, said our nation’s colleges and universities are places of “stimulating thought, provoking thought, of robust debate and discussion.”
At the same time, Locke said, “We need to have a mindset and frame of being inclusive and respectful toward everyone.”
Locke described himself as a nontraditional college president candidate and someone with a passion for education policy. He wants to encourage a cultural shift on campus, provide stability, and elevate the college’s stature as it searches for a permanent president.