Chancellor J. William Wenrich of the San Diego Community College District announced his resignation Thursday to take a similar job in Dallas that he said offers a better salary-benefits package and greater career opportunity.
Wenrich plans to accept the chancellor's job with the Dallas County Community College District pending final approval by that district's board of trustees Sept. 11.
The Dallas board plans to nominate Wenrich as its final candidate over eight other finalists at its Tuesday meeting, said district spokeswoman Claudia Robinson.
Wenrich and Dallas officials said the agreement is complete except for formal board approval.
"It's a good professional opportunity to go to a national leader in terms of innovation in community college education," Wenrich said. "Dallas has a larger system that has a unique opportunity to make a major contribution to the state's economic rebound."
Wenrich, 53, who became chancellor of the San Diego district Sept. 1, 1988, will remain at his post until about Oct. 1. He is scheduled to take over the Dallas job by Nov. 1.
"It's been wonderful here," he said. "The staff and faculty have done some great things. This was a hard decision to balance, but the professional opportunity and money were too great."
Wenrich said his current salary is $105,000, while the Dallas district will pay him an annual base salary of $140,000 plus a $9,500 tax shelter annuity and additional benefits.
The San Diego community college board of trustees will discuss searching for a successor at its Aug. 13 meeting. No deadline has been set for filling the position.
Board Vice President Evonne Schulze said members made a "pretty good" counteroffer to Wenrich but could not match Dallas. She would not release the amount of San Diego's counteroffer.
Schulze, who will become board president in December, said Wenrich has kept the board updated on his interest in the Dallas job. He said the Dallas district contacted him in May, and he had not been job hunting.
Schulze said that, because the five-member board will have three new members seated in December, the existing board will probably hire an interim chancellor to allow the incoming board to select one.
"It will be a real challenge, but, since they will be working together, a new board will probably work better if it hires the new chancellor," she said.
While praising Wenrich for the San Diego district's accomplishments under his tenure, Schulze said she understood his desire to work for better pay in a fast-growing school district in a state with fewer education restrictions.
"It is a loss for us. We were on the move," she said. "But this is a big step forward for Bill. He's very well known nationally, and he had to consider their offer."
Board President Dan Grady called Wenrich the "right chancellor at the right time" for the local college district.
"We regret to see him go but fully understand his reasons for going to Dallas," Grady said. "He has moved us along more than we could have reasonably expected in two years. He opened lines of communication within the district and community, and really brought people together."
During Wenrich's tenure in San Diego, the district increased enrollment, implemented a master plan for education programs and capital improvements, expanded its ethnic faculty hiring program, expanded its contract military education programs and installed a new mainframe computer, officials said.
The Dallas district operates seven colleges and the Bill J. Priest Institute for Economic Development, serving about 200,000 credit and non-credit students a year.
The San Diego district, California's second-largest community college district, has about 100,000 credit and non-credit students and 4,100 faculty member at its City, Mesa and Miramar colleges, and 10 Continuing Education centers. The district also has 60,000 students enrolled in military contract education programs in five states.
The Dallas district has had an interim chancellor since March 2, when Lawrence W. Tyree resigned to become president of the Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla.
The Ann Arbor, Mich., native was president of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., from 1984 to 1988 and president of Santa Ana Community College and superintendent of the Rancho Santiago Community College District in Santa Ana from 1979 to 1984.
Wenrich, who is fluent in Spanish, has also worked for private industry and the U.S. State Department in Central and South America.