Bellevue College president leaving to head online university

May 23, 2011

The longtime president of the state's largest community college is taking a new job as the Washington chancellor of a private, nonprofit online school.

Western Governors University says Bellevue College President Jean Floten will begin her new job in August. The online university was founded in 1997 by the governors of 19 western states, including Washington. It has fewer than a thousand students in Washington state, but an estimated 20,000 nationwide.

A new law signed by Governor Chris Gregoire in April will create a partnership with the online school, including it in agreements for transferring college credits, but it will not receive state money. 

President Bob Mendenhall said the hiring of Floten, who has served on national community-college boards and committees, will help boost the school's visibility.

"We feel really fortunate that she wanted to come. Everyone tells us we couldn't have made a better choice."

The online school says it is signing an agreement with Washington's community colleges to make it easier for their graduates to seek bachelor's degrees at WGU.

The school plans to begin marketing itself more actively in Washington, especially among community-college students.