Bates selects first woman to lead college. She would replace president ousted for misconduct

Lin Zhou
Lin Zhou Courtesy

A week after firing its president for misconduct, the board of Bates Technical College voted Tuesday to offer an in-house candidate a two-year gig as the school's chief executive.

The board voted 3-2 to offer the position of president to Lin Zhou, who is currently the college's vice president of institutional effectiveness and student success. Zhou has been serving as interim president since Ron Langrell was placed on paid leave in late January.

Board members Christina Blocker, Cathy Pearsall-Stipek and Anthony Anderson voted to offer the job to Zhou, while board chairman Layne Bladow and Heather Moss voted no, the college said.

Zhou will enter into contract negotiations with the college this week, a spokeswoman said. Should she accept the board’s offer, she would be the college’s first female president and the first female Chinese immigrant to serve as president of a public two-year college in Washington that's part of the state board system, according to a Bates news release.

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After the board moved to terminate Langrell last Tuesday, the college sent an email to staff saying the board would begin working on a presidential search plan in the coming weeks.

Bladow said that during an executive session Tuesday, an assistant attorney general told the board it had options for finding a new president, including conducting a nationwide search or searching in-house. After the board came back into regular session, Blocker made a motion to appoint Zhou.

Bladow did not say why the board moved to appoint her, and Blocker did not immediately return a call seeking comment. In a news release sent out shortly after the vote, the college did not say why the board chose Zhou instead of conducting an outside search.

"As you're aware, these are difficult times and some difficult discussions over the last few months," Bladow said Wednesday. "There has been a lot of insight, a lot of information brought forward to all of us to make some tough decisions."

The investigation into Langrell began after a staff member filed a formal harassment complaint in November. That inquiry included interviews with 28 people, most of them current Bates employees, and determined that Langrell frequently gave unwanted hugs, made inappropriate comments about people's appearances and intimidated and demeaned employees, according to public records obtained by The News Tribune.

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Zhou was hired at Bates as the dean of continuing education, apprenticeship and child studies in 2013. Since then, she has served as dean of instruction and executive dean before becoming a vice president in 2016. Prior to Bates, she worked as associate dean of extended learning and director of branch campus and continuing education at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, the college said in a news release.

According to the news release, Zhou has a Ph.D. in education from Oregon State University, a master’s in business administration from City University in Seattle and an associate degree in computer science and networking technology from Lake Washington Institute of Technology. In 2017, Zhou participated in the Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management, administered by the university’s Graduate School of Education.

Last week the Bates board voted to retroactively pay her the equivalent of Langrell's salary. His most recent annual salary was $202,292.30.

Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441, @candiceruud