Whitman College President George Bridges will take the helm of The Evergreen State College after Les Purce retires at the end of the academic year.

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Whitman College President George Bridges, a former dean and vice provost at the University of Washington, has been chosen as the next president of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, the state’s smallest public four-year college.

Keith Kessler, chairman of Evergreen’s board of trustees, called Bridges “an exceptional leader with deep experience at public and private institutions, large and small.” Bridges was one of four finalists for the position, and the only one from Washington state.

In a letter to Whitman alumni, Bridges said he looks forward to “advancing a vision for the College that preserves Evergreen’s distinctive virtues in teaching and learning while also inspiring change as it adapts to changes in the larger society.”

Bridges announced a year ago that he was planning to leave Whitman, a highly selective private college in Walla Walla that ranks 37th among national liberal-arts colleges in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rating of colleges and universities. Tuition and fees there are about $45,000 a year.

Evergreen is known as an eclectic liberal-arts school, founded in 1967, where professors write student evaluations instead of issuing letter grades, and a final transcript includes the student’s own evaluation of his or her work.

A number of famous people have attended Evergreen, including musician Macklemore, cartoonist and Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Sub-Pop record-label founder Bruce Pavitt and Dan Tishman, founder of Tishman Construction, one of New York City’s leading construction companies.

It has an enrollment of about 4,200 students and charges about $8,000 a year for Washington students.

Bridges will make $300,000 a year and will start Oct. 1. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, he made $411,000 as president of Whitman in 2012.

He replaces Les Purce, who is retiring after serving as president for 15 years.