WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten is stepping down after 5 ½ years with the online institution. COURTESY PHOTO, WGU

WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten to retire

WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten, who has led the nonprofit, online university since its launch in May 2011, will retire on Jan. 31, after more than 45 years of distinguished service to higher education in the Pacific Northwest.

Under Floten’s leadership, WGU Washington has grown by 1,100 percent in just 5 ½ years – today the university has more than 10,000 enrolled students and nearly 7,400 graduates throughout the state. A national search for the next chancellor has begun.

WGU Washington tapped Floten to be its first chancellor shortly after the state legislature established the university through a partnership with Western Governors University. WGU Washington serves adult students and is helping the state address critical workforce needs with more than 60 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. Today, WGU students and graduates include more than 3,000 teachers and health professionals working in Washington schools and healthcare facilities.

“Throughout her career, Jean Floten has impacted thousands of lives by creating real educational opportunities for nontraditional students,” said Western Governors University President Scott Pulsipher. “In addition to shepherding the amazing growth of WGU Washington, Jean has made a significant contribution to the development of competency-based education in Washington.”

“I am grateful to have spent my career helping improve lives and strengthen communities through education,” Floten said. “It has been an honor to lead top-quality institutions – and work with so many talented, dedicated faculty and staff members. I have chosen 2017 as the time to retire, in part, because WGU Washington has achieved significant success in its first five years and is positioned to continue to succeed going forward.”

Floten joined WGU Washington after leading Bellevue College for more than 22 years, steering its transition from Bellevue Community College into an innovative, nationally acclaimed institution. Floten oversaw the creation of the National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies, which earned designation as a Center of Excellence by the National Science Foundation and Washington’s community and technical colleges. Also during her administration, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Bellevue College a top-ten community college in the nation for IT, and Vice President Al Gore cited it as one of 20 colleges known for world-class 21st-century job preparation. Prior to serving at Bellevue College, Floten was Executive Vice President at Edmonds Community College.

Floten is a member of the Editorial Board of The Journal of Competency-Based Education. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by City University in 2006 and earned Master of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Portland State University. She has been named a “Woman of Influence” by the Puget Sound Business Journal, one of Seattle’s “Most Influential People” by Seattle Magazine, and earned the Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa’s “Pathfinder Award.”