Monday, September 15, 2014

UPDATED: CR Prez to Retire

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM

click to enlarge kathy-lehner.jpg
After two years leading College of the Redwoods, President Kathryn Smith announced in an email to staff Friday that she'll be retiring at the conclusion of her contract, which runs through the conclusion of this school year, expiring June 30, 2015.

Smith confirmed the news to the Journal via email this morning, and said the campus will be following up with an official news release later today (the release is now copied below). See Smith's full letter to staff below:

Dear CR Colleagues,

I apologize for sending out such an importance message after 5:00 on a Friday. I have been wrestling all day with how to say what I have to say, and just didn’t have the time to concentrate until the workday had come to an end.

During the closed session at yesterday's Board of Trustees meeting, I informed the trustees that I will be retiring at the end of my three-year contract, which is this coming June 30, 2015. This was not an easy decision for me to make and I did so with many mixed feelings. Over the past two years, I have grown to love and respect College of the Redwoods, the students, the community, and especially, all of you - my CR colleagues. I am so proud of the way you all came together to save CR from certain bankruptcy and loss of accreditation.

Most of you are well aware of my personal background and why I sought the CR Presidency in the first place. My husband Mark and I will be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary on October 7. Mark just completed his 30th year with PG&E and will complete the engineering plans and permitting work for the nuclear plant decommissioning in the first quarter of 2016. His job here at Humboldt Bay Power Plant will be over. We have so many plans for our retirement and for our still new relationship. Our granddaughter in Portland just turned 1, my mother in Kansas is about to turn 90, and Mark's 18-year-old son just moved to Long Beach. We want to spend our time traveling to visit loved ones and exploring locations we have always wanted to visit. At 62 years old, I have no desire to seek other employment or to become a "rent-a-prez" as so many former community college presidents do.

In moving forward, the Board has committed to immediately begin the search process for a new president. The trustees intent is to have a new president in place by June 30, with no need for an interim president. Formal action will be taken at the October board meeting, a search committee will be formed, and recruiting announcements and advertisements will be distributed as soon as practicable. The college will continue moving forward under my leadership, developing a plan for a smooth transition to a new president. My primary goal is to ensure that all the planning, assessment, program review and budgeting processes that CR has established over the last few years will be retained and continue to improve in future years.

When I first arrived at CR, I was puzzled and even a bit offended when I heard that many of you were intent on making policies and procedures "president proof." As I began to understand CR's culture and history, I agreed that policies should be "president proof" AND "faculty proof" AND "staff proof!" The highly effective plans and procedures that we have put into place should not be able to be changed by any one person or any one group. They should only be improved by a process of collegial consultation and transparent revision procedures that allow for input from all constituent groups.

This retirement announcement does not mean that I will become a “lame duck” president. I pledge to you that I will sustain and increase my efforts this year to continue the good work that we have become accustomed to at CR. I am honored to have served as your president the past 2+ years and I look forward to a productive 2014-15!

Warmest regards,
Kathy
The following is a press release issued by College of the Redwoods:


College of the Redwoods President Kathy Smith announced to CR Trustees and employees on Friday, Sept. 12 that she is retiring on June 30, 2015.

Smith will be completing the three-year contract to serve as CR’s President/Superintendent that she began serving in May 2012. She is the college’s sixth president in its 50-year history.

“Over the past two years, I have grown to love and respect College of the Redwoods, the students, the community, and all my CR colleagues,” Smith said. “In moving forward, the CR Board of Trustees has committed to immediately begin the search process for a new president. The trustees’ intent is to have a new president in place by June 30, 2015 with no need for an interim president. Formal action will be taken at the October board meeting, a search committee will be formed, and recruiting announcements and advertisements will be distributed as soon as practicable.

“The college will continue moving forward under my leadership, developing a plan for a smooth transition to a new president,” Smith added. “My primary goal is to ensure that all the planning, assessment, program review and budgeting processes that CR has established over the last few years will be retained and continue to improve in future years.”

Smith began serving as CR’s President just four months after the college had been placed on Show Cause, the most serious sanction possible under the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). In February, 2013, the ACCJC upgraded CR’s status to probation.

A year later, in February 2014, CR was cleared of all sanctions and was on a clear accreditation status. In addition, during this time, CR’s budget was stabilized with an ending reserve for fiscal year 2013-14 at approximately eight percent, a substantial improvement over a two-year period.

Members of the various college leadership groups, praised Smith for her work the past two and half years.

“I am convinced that if Kathy Smith had not been our President/Superintendent during a very difficult time in the history of the college, the viability of the entire Redwoods Community College District would be in jeopardy,” said CR Board of Trustees President Colleen Mullery. “Kathy’s collaborative and transparent leadership style, coupled with her in-depth knowledge of accreditation requirements and financial and accounting practices, made it possible for faculty, staff, and administration to work together to turn College of the Redwoods around.”

CR Academic Senate Co-President Dan Calderwood said, “She will be missed. Her leadership has helped us get through our accreditation and budget crises. We are on very good footing going forward.”

Calderwood’s Co-Academic Senate President John Johnston added,” Kathy Smith came to us in the darkest time CR has ever seen. She has led the effort to bring the college back. Personally, I’m really going to miss her. She is smart, kind, patient and thoughtful.”

CR Management Council President Lynn Thiesen said, “President Smith’s honest, transparent and caring leadership style, as well as her knowledge of budgeting and accreditation, made the difference in getting us off accreditation sanctions. While I am excited for President Smith and this next chapter of her life, she will be greatly missed. I believe her focus on planning will ensure that CR continues to move forward.”

“We are sad to see her go but happy to see her be able to retire so young,” said Jose Ramirez, the president of CR’s chapter of the Classified State Employees Union. “We are going to miss her leadership. She was instrumental in providing guidance in accreditation and budget issues when the College needed it. She was able to do more probably than any other president could have done.”

In an email to all staff and faculty, Smith said, “I will sustain and increase my efforts this year to continue the good work that we have become accustomed to at CR I am honored to have served as your president the past two-plus years and I look forward to a productive 2014-15.”

Prior to coming to CR, Smith served at Mendocino College in Ukiah, Calif., from 2003 to May 2012. There she was the vice president of academic affairs for two years and served as the president/superintendent of the college from 2005 to May 2012. 

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