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Chancellor Announces Retirement : Education: Plan by the head of the Coast Community College District stuns faculty, employees and students.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Alfred P. Fernandez, chancellor of Coast Community College District, announced his retirement Wednesday, saying he wants to study and spend more time with his family.

The announcement stunned students, employees and faculty members because Fernandez has been chancellor for just five years and is only 58.

“You don’t work till you drop anymore,” said Fernandez, who had long planned to retire by age 60. “When you feel you’ve accomplished what you wanted to accomplish, you move on with the next phase of your life.”

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That, he said, will include resuming his studies in geology, probably at UC Santa Barbara, and spending more time with his wife, Dolores, their four children and nine grandchildren.

“I want to be able to watch the kids play basketball or do a play--that kind of corny stuff, the stuff I’m missing now,” he said.

Fernandez will retire officially on Aug. 31, and he has said he will be around this summer for what are expected to be difficult budget hearings, given the state’s deepening economic crisis. District spokeswoman Ann Garten said a search will begin immediately so a successor will be in place by September.

The 53,000-student district includes Coastline, Golden West and Orange Coast colleges and several satellite facilities in Fountain Valley, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.

The chancellor actually revealed his retirement plans to the district’s five-member board of trustees during the closed session of their regular meeting Jan. 12. It was not publicly announced while board members tried to persuade him to stay.

“They’ve been very, very supportive and complimentary,” Fernandez said of the trustees. “But they’ve agreed that I should be able to follow through with my plans.”

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Board President Paul Berger hailed Fernandez as someone who brought stability and prestige to a district that had been rocked by divisive battles between the previous chancellor and employee unions.

Added Trustee Sherry L. Baum: “His service has been exemplary, and I will be sorry to see him go. I was not for him in the beginning; I did not vote for him. . . . But he has enabled the district to function very smoothly. And he has been very supportive of students, especially of underrepresented minorities and women.

“He’s done a good job and he has been evenhanded.”

Student Trustee Shannon E. Emerick said she was dismayed to learn of Fernandez’s retirement.

“I was very sad to hear about it because he has become a friend of students and of me personally,” said the 25-year-old Huntington Beach woman, who is a public administration major at Coastline College in Fountain Valley. “But after speaking with him (Wednesday), he’s got a lot more to do in his life.”

Fernandez makes about $120,000 annually in salary and benefits. He said he will not seek a special retirement package and will get whatever the State Teacher’s Retirement System formula allows.

“I’m not going to be making nearly the amount of money I’m making now,” he said. “But we’ve planned for that.”

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