Bellevue College student Robert Rowe, a 52-year-old taking courses to enter a bachelor’s degree program in education, is the college's and the state's first student trustee for a community or technical college.
Rowe's position on the board of trustees is a result of a five-year effort on the part of Bellevue College students to get representation on the board that governs the college.
“It’s really quite an honor for me to serve on the board. I think it’s important to have student representation, so I can give the trustees the student’s perspective regarding significant decisions,” Rowe said in a prepared statement.
“We’re delighted to welcome Robert to the board and look forward to the positive contributions he will make during his term,” said board chairman Paul Chiles.
Rowe, of Auburn, already has a science transfer degree and a certificate in accounting from Bellevue College and is a Phi Theta Kappa honor society member, according to Bellevue College. Rowe is currently taking prerequisite courses needed to enter a bachelor’s degree program in education and eventually plans to be a high school math teacher. While studying, he also works full-time as an electrician.
Rowe has two daughters who currently attend the college, and another daughter who is a former student.
After years of lobbying, the legislature passed Senate Bill 5217, which allows any college district’s board of trustees to establish a sixth trustee position to be filled by a student. Gov. Chris Gregoire selects the student from a list of three to five candidates submitted by the student government of that college district.
Four-year public colleges already have student trustees.
“Robert is going to pave a path for other students to follow not only at Bellevue College, but at all of the state’s community and technical colleges. This will benefit students in the long run by giving them a stronger voice in the governance of their colleges,” said Bellevue College's Assistant Dean of Student Programs, Faisal Jaswal in a prepared statement.
As a student trustee, Rowe will have all of the duties and powers of a regular trustee, but must excuse himself from participation or voting on matters related to hiring, discipline or tenure of faculty and personnel, or any matters pertaining to collective bargaining agreements. His term lasts until June 30, 2013. Current members of BC’s Board of Trustees are: Paul Chiles (chair), Marie Gunn (vice chair), Lisa Chin, Steve Miller and Vicki Orrico.