Thomas “Les” Purce, president of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, announced Tuesday that he will retire in August 2015.
Meanwhile, the college’s board of trustees will begin a nationwide search for his replacement in May, according to chair Keith Kessler.
In an email to students, Purce, who has served at Evergreen’s helm since July 2000, described the Evergreen presidency as one of the great joys of his life.
“In no small part, that joy comes from the dedicated and determined group of faculty and staff whom I have the privilege to call colleagues and the students with whom I engage every day,” he wrote. “We have done some extraordinary work together and have more to do over the next year. I very much look forward to working with all of you in my final year as president.”
In a news release, Kessler described Purce as “an effective leader, ambassador and champion for the college and its students.”
“Les has made an enormous contribution not just to The Evergreen State College, but to higher education in this state and across the nation,” he said.
Several of the college’s faculty and staff members contacted by The Olympian declined to comment on Purce’s retirement, deferring comments to the college’s media and community relations department. Students declined to comment on the record as well.
Before he became the college’s president, Purce served as vice president of extended university affairs and dean of extended academic programs at Washington State University in Pullman.
Before that, between 1989 and 1995, Purce worked in several roles at Evergreen including vice president for college advancement, interim president and executive vice president.
Purce is an Idaho native, and is a former city councilman and mayor of Pocatello. He also led Idaho state’s departments of administration and health and welfare.
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433