Finalists Named for President Position at The Evergreen State College

January 15, 2015

(Olympia, Wash.) As part of a national presidential search that generated nearly a hundred applicants, the Board of Trustees of The Evergreen State College announced this week that it has selected four finalists for on-campus interviews in January and February. They include:

  • George Bridges, PhD, is president of Whitman College and previously served as dean and vice provost of undergraduate education at the University of Washington.  He holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (PhD, Sociology, and MA, Criminology) and from the University of Washington (BA, Sociology).
  • Rhona Free, PhD, is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Eastern Connecticut State University where she previously served as director of the Center for Educational Excellence and as a professor in the Department of Economics.  She holds degrees from University of Notre Dame (PhD and MA, Economics) and Sarah Lawrence College (BA).
  • Margaret Madden, PhD, is provost and vice president for academic affairs at State University of New York at Potsdam, where she is also a tenured professor of psychology.  She holds degrees from University of Massachusetts, Amherst (PhD, Psychology, and MS, Psychology) and University of Wisconsin, Madison (BA, Psychology).
  • Luis Pedraja, PhD, is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Antioch University Los Angeles.  His previous professional appointments include vice president of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  He holds degrees from University of Virginia (PhD, Philosophical Theology and Religious Studies), The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div, Theology), and Stetson University (BA, Religion).

According to board chair Keith Kessler, the trustees hope to make a selection and a job offer in March.

"This is an exciting time at Evergreen," said Kessler, one of eight trustees appointed by the governor to oversee the state's nationally acclaimed public liberal arts college.  "We've been inspired by the number of exceptional candidates interested in this position," he noted. "Evergreen's distinctive educational approach—including interdisciplinary teaching and learning, an extraordinary focus on student responsibility for educational choices, and an emphasis on putting theory into practice—calls for a leader who can think beyond the limits of traditional higher education to help students succeed in a changing world. It has been 15 years since we last hired a president and given the qualifications of our finalists, I think the college and the wider community will see why we're excited about the possibilities these candidates represent."

Since opening its doors in 1971, Evergreen has become nationally recognized for its innovative academic programs that combine subjects that are traditionally taught separately. America's top college guides regularly rank Evergreen as one of the nation's best institutions for its strong academics, nurturing community and reasonable cost. Sierra magazine and the Princeton Review have repeatedly named Evergreen as one of the top "green" colleges in the nation for its commitment to sustainability and achievements in sustainable practices, operations, academic programming and community outreach.

Dr. Thomas L. "Les" Purce announced in May that he would retire in summer 2015.  He has served as Evergreen's president since July of 2000.

Prior to accepting the presidency at The Evergreen State College, Dr. Purce served as vice-president of extended university affairs and dean of extended academic programs at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. Between 1989 and 1995, Dr. Purce served in several roles at Evergreen, including vice president for college advancement, interim president and executive vice president.  His career also included roles at Idaho State University—as special assistant to the president and director of the Research Park and economic development—as well as service in local and state government and in the private sector.