Jeffords to PSU; interim to be named in June

Susan Jeffords

By Maria Lamarca Anderson
Susan Jeffords, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Washington Bothell, has accepted a position as provost at Portland State University, effective Aug. 15, 2018. Jeffords has been with UW Bothell since 2007 and with the University of Washington since 1985. 

“I want to thank Susan for her many important contributions to the success of UW Bothell and our students,” said Chancellor Wolf Yeigh. “She has enterprised a number of initiatives that have had a profound impact on our campus and community, and are felt globally. She leaves very big shoes to fill.” 

A search committee for a new vice chancellor for academic affairs is being formed. Chancellor Yeigh plans to announce an interim vice chancellor next month. 

“I have been privileged to spend the majority of my academic career at the University of Washington, an institution that proves every day the value of great public research universities,” said Jeffords. 

According to Kenyon Chan, former UW Bothell chancellor, Jeffords was a key driver of an impressive increase in campus enrollment from approximately 1,400 to almost 6,000 students during her tenure. “She won’t tell you this, but she is largely responsible for the growth,” said Chan. “Her strong leadership, perseverance and ability to collaborate with faculty, staff and the community resulted in programs and services that attracted students and an environment where people wanted to work. Faculty, in particular, were intrigued by the possibilities at UW Bothell.” 

The sentiment is confirmed by Brad Portin, a longtime professor in the School of Educational Studies and former director of the education program. “I was recruited from the Seattle campus in 2009,” he said, “and Susan is one of the main reasons I accepted the position. We had a common interest in global initiatives, and I knew she was going to be a supportive colleague and collaborator who would advance the University’s work.” 

There have been many changes on campus since Jeffords’ arrival. In addition to the growth in enrollment, UW Bothell has gone from a largely unknown campus to being named this year’s “Best Value” among Washington colleges by PayScale. The campus has added more than 30 degree programs and launched the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which now enrolls the largest number of students on campus. External support for research has increased from approximately $600,000 in fiscal year 2007 to a high of $14 million in awards in 2016. The campus is also one of the most diverse four-year institutions in the state, with almost 50 percent of incoming students being the first in their families to attend college. 

“Characteristic of Susan’s leadership,” Portin added, “is that she helped us grow with impact — not just programmatic growth but also growth of the kinds of programs, degrees and support infrastructure for students that put the campus on the global map.” 

UW Bothell has also developed strong partnerships with industries, community organizations and other institutions of higher education, in part led by Jeffords. “When I was interim chancellor at Bellevue College, I was so impressed with her passion, her commitment to partnerships and her innovation,” said Jill Wakefield, retired Seattle Colleges chancellor. “She looked for opportunities to make both institutions better and to use partnerships to better serve students and the community. She is an inspiring educational leader who gets things done. When you work with Susan, you know you will create something meaningful, and have fun doing it.” 

Jeffords worked in many different capacities at the University, beginning with her start as an assistant professor in the Department of English on the Seattle campus. She began her administrative service as chair of what is now known as the Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies. She also served as the divisional dean of Social Sciences, vice-provost for Academic Planning, and vice provost for Global Affairs before becoming vice chancellor at UW Bothell. 

“I have enjoyed observing Susan in her different leadership positions,” said Sandy Archibald, dean and professor in the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. “She is very thoughtful in her approach and is highly collaborative, optimistic and resilient. All the traits and qualities of a good provost. I know she will be successful at Portland State, and we will miss her.” 

Jeffords remains enthusiastic about UW Bothell’s future. “The students, faculty and staff of UW Bothell inspire me every day to match their level of commitment, passion and generosity. The campus’s many achievements have only been made possible by the exceptional faculty and staff who work at UW Bothell, individuals who have committed their careers to working at an institution that believes that, by placing student learning in the center of a high-quality research environment, extraordinary things can — and do — happen.”