Cypress College’s President Retiring


Christine Johnson, the trailblazing president of Cypress College, has resigned from her post.

The 52-year-old administrator, who became the community college’s first African American and first female president when she was hired in 1995, is moving to Maryland after she gets married June 27. Her resignation is effective June 30.

Johnson’s fiance, Irving Pressley McPhail, is chancellor of the Community Colleges of Baltimore County in Maryland. There, she plans to do some graduate teaching and research in higher education leadership.


“I look forward to helping to train the next generation of community college leaders in my new role,” Johnson said in a statement released Thursday.

She said she also plans to pursue her passion for writing. Johnson has been gaining national recognition for her book, “Walk in the Rainbow,” which explores ways that African American women can improve their lives through entrepreneurship.

Tom K. Harris Jr., chancellor of the North Orange County Community College District, which oversees Cypress College, called Johnson “one of the best college presidents in the nation.”

Johnson, a former professor of counseling and psychology at various colleges and universities, was honored by the state Legislature in 1990 for her service to education.

During her tenure at Cypress, enrollment increased, alliances with community and civic organizations were made and strengthened, innovative instructional programs were implemented and student services were expanded, college officials said.

“She is a very positive, very energetic, very strong leader, a remarkable lady,” said Mike Kasler, dean of the college’s instructional services. “Whatever she did in terms of instructional programs and student services, her primary question always was, ‘How will this improve student success?’ She brought about changes and built a cohesive collegewide learning community. A lot of people will miss her.”