Citing family, Coastline College president announces retirement
Loretta Adrian hasn’t left Orange County yet, but she’s already thinking about all the things she’s going to miss.
She said she’ll miss her faculty, staff and colleagues. She’ll miss the students at Coastline College, where she’s served as president for the three satellite campuses for over a decade. And she’ll miss the abundance of Vietnamese food here — “I love food,” she added, laughing.
There’s other things Adrian will miss when she retires in June but for now, she’s enjoying her time before she steps down.
Adrian announced her retirement in November, saying she wanted to try something new and spend more time with her youngest son and her 11-year-old grandson before “he becomes a teenager and he doesn’t want to hang out with me.”
“I always think I don’t get stressed with my job because I love it, and I’ve really enjoyed my time at Coastline, but I really am at a point where I feel like I need to pay attention to my family more,” Adrian said, adding that her youngest son is a single father in San Diego and she wants to be able to help take her grandson from one place to another.
“I do believe that organizations get renewed with new leadership,” Adrian said. “Orange Coast College hired a new president last year. Golden West [College] hired a new president about two years ago. I think it’s about time Coastline did too.”
Adrian first came to Coastline College in July 2010, but worked previously at other community college campuses such as San Joaquin Delta College, San Diego Mesa College, College of San Mateo and Skyline College. Coastline was her first presidency.
“I probably stayed longer than I thought I would, but I’ve really enjoyed my time,” Adrian said.
Of her highlights at Coastline, Adrian spoke to the “spirit of innovation” in her peers and for the college’s student-centered approach. She was proud of the launch of the college’s Guided Pathways model this fall, the college’s accreditation and the construction of the Newport Beach campus and the renovations to the Westminster and Garden Grove campuses.
The year has been a challenging one, but the advantage of Coastline is that many of its programs were already online. Adrian said she felt the unique culture of the community college lent itself to pivoting quickly at the start of the pandemic. The bigger issued laid with a decline in enrollment and budgetary challenges.
Staying connected with students and staff was a priority, Adrian said.
She referred to each accomplishment as one made through the collaboration of the constituents involved — a fact two of her vice presidents pointed to as representative of her time as president at Coastline College.
“She really turned to the faculty, the staff and the managers at the college to help in shaping who we were as we continued to evolve as an institution,” said Vince Rodriguez, vice president of instruction.
“She had a general vision of wanting to continue to build on our innovative spirit. She really would turn over and over again to us to say: ‘OK, what are your thoughts? How do we get there? What are your ideas?’ And really let the community of our college to grow,” Rodriguez said. “She definitely had the vision, but she let the employees set how we would get there and give us the support.”
Christine Nguyen, vice president of administrative services, described Adrian as the “epitome of shared governance,” adding that Adrian would often involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process where possible. She said Adrian often brought in all committee members at every level to weigh in on new hires, even though the call, by that point, was hers to make.
Rodriguez said one of the highlights of Adrian’s presidency at Coastline was the professional development of faculty and a shift toward decision-making by consensus as opposed to by vote alone.
“For me, she has been a great mentor,” Nguyen said. “She’s not only my boss, but she has mentored me in so many ways and given me opportunity to grow under her watch.”
Aeron Zentner, the dean of institutional effectiveness, said he appreciated Adrian as a leader who trusted her staff to be innovative and “push the envelope.”
“I was 29 when I became a dean,” Zentner said, “and so she took a chance on me. I wanted to thank her for giving me the opportunity.”
Zentner said he remembers once throwing out wild ideas for a grant during a meeting and Adrian giving him and others the go-ahead to pursue it. He described her as someone who never told them “no” when it came to exploring possibilities.
“She was a champion of innovation for Coastline, which, with her support, has led to us trying, testing, failing, learning and growing in so many areas,” Zentner said.
Adrian said she hopes to stay in touch with her colleagues, even as she plans to leave to move back to San Diego some time in the next two years. She plans on staying in her Huntington Beach home for a while longer after her retirement from Coastline, in no short part because of the pandemic.
The college will begin interviewing over the next six months and is expected to hire Adrian’s successor by July 1.
Adrian said she hopes the new president will take the time to get to know the faculty, staff and students and strengthen and nurture what makes the college unique.
“We’ve overcome some really big challenges, and we’ve been able to create a lot of really impressive things and achieve impressive things because of that culture that’s really special,” Adrian said. “Take the time to know them, work with them and support them because they are the foundation and heart of Coastline.”
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