Provost interviews for chancellor position in Washington

Paola Marizan


UPDATED 12:02 p.m. Nov. 25

Provost Ronald Rochon has applied for chancellor at the University of Washington – Tacoma. 

Rochon, who has served as Provost at USI since 2010, was scheduled to interview for the chancellor position Monday. He is the fourth of five interviews for the position.

Each of the candidates will spend two days on UW Tacoma’s campus, where they will participate in a full schedule of meetings and forums and make a public presentation.

“I was nominated for the position by several colleagues around the country,” Rochon said Nov. 20. “That’s pretty much how it began.”

Rochon said he was approached by search consultants and after having conversations with some colleagues, he decided to submit a letter of interest to learn more about the position.

“I have been nominated, since I arrived here at USI, for several presidential positions. I’ve been nominated for quite a few this year,” he said.

Rochon said his professional goal is to become a university president. He said he is optimistic and that with hard work and dedication, it will happen.

“Without question, I am still interested in moving into an area where I have greater responsibility, greater influence at a university, and the presidential role would provide me with that,” Rochon said.

He said at this moment, he does not know what his answer will if he’s offered the position.

“The university there is going to look at me and then I will look at the university,” Rochon said. “There are a lot of unknowns with regards to what that could mean to myself and my family.”

He said he wants to remind everyone he is the provost at USI and it is the job he is “wedded to.”

“I have not committed to anything else at this point. I have an interview. Someone is interested in me and I’m interested in learning more about them. That’s it. Nothing else has been done at this point beyond that,” Rochon said.

Kenyon Chan, who retired from the University of Washington in 2012, has served as interim chancellor at UW Tacoma since March.

In 2013, 4,309 students were enrolled at the university, according to UW Tacoma by the numbers.

Director of External Relations at UW Tacoma Mike Wark said the chancellor reports to the president of the University of Washington, which is based in Seattle and serves more than 40,000 students.

Wark said the university is looking for a dynamic leader who can lead a growing institution and take risks.

Around 300 applicants applied for the position and only five candidates were chosen for final interviews.

“Obviously your provost (Rochon) impressed the search committee with his background experience and leadership capability, and they believe he’d be a good match for UW Tacoma,” Wark said.

The UW Tacoma chancellor  is responsible for charting a vision for the future, managing growth, leading a capital campaign, balancing access and quality improvements, as well as creating new and strengthening existing community partnerships.

Wark said the chancellor should be an inspirational leader.

“When you apply for a position like this, they’re looking for somebody who has a broad background, a whole lot of wonderful experiences and very impressive skills,” he said. “They go through intensive screening interviews.”

According to the UW Tacoma timeline, the process started in May. The final decision will be announced between early December and January.

The selected candidate will take on the position when they are ready.

“Usually people in high level positions need time to finish at least a portion of their academic year,” Wark said. “They have big responsibilities and they want to make sure that they follow through with as many as they can.”

He said the university expects to see the new chancellor at UW Tacoma by early summer. 

USI President Linda Bennett has worked alongside Rochon for five years.

“I know he has a career goal and we have had conversations about how to get there,” Bennett said. “Students are not the only ones here who graduate. Some of us graduate to a different position.”

She said she is proud of Rochon and of his work.

“He has embraced this university and the community with a big bear hug,” she said.

Bennett said Rochon has her full support and if he decides to accept the position he will be greatly missed.

She said it’s bittersweet to see someone you love to work with go, but she knew it would happen eventually because Rochon is a competitive candidate.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.