Coast Community College District Chancellor Ding-Jo Currie has announced that she will retire at the end of the school year. Currie announced in a letter to faculty, staff and the Board of Trustees last week that she will retire June 30 to spend more time with family and friends.
"It is with much agonizing and heartfelt reflection that I have come to a decision regarding my search for the next chapter of a purposeful life," Currie wrote.
Currie took the helm of the district — which oversees Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Coastline Community College in Fountain Valley — last November after serving as interim chancellor since January 2009. She took over after former Chancellor Ken Yglesias went on administrative leave and then resigned in March 2009.
In an interview Wednesday, Currie said she will integrate more of her personal life by helping with her husband's business and spending time with her 87-year-old mother.
"The next chapter is going to be even more colorful," she said.
Jerry Patterson, president of the board of trustees of Coast Community Colleges, said he's sad to see her leave.
"If I could change her decision, we would take her back in a New York minute," he said in an e-mail.
The district is currently looking for search consultants to aid in finding the next chancellor, Patterson said.
A search committee made up of community stakeholders will be formed to review the applicants, he said. The top three to five applicants will be sent to the board of trustees to be interviewed, Patterson said.
Currie was chosen by the district's board of trustees to oversee the three colleges that serve more than 60,000 students in western Orange County and about 20,000 military students worldwide. The colleges have an annual budget of more than $240 million.
Currie said in the letter that she is staying through the academic year to complete the District's Vision 2020 Master Plan, take part in budget deliberations, plan development for the next two years and implement ways to generate revenue.
"Community colleges have long been the love of my life (besides my family)," she said in the letter. "After more than 30 years of this love affair, I cannot simply close the door on it. I will continue to be involved with community colleges education and contribute in other ways and by other means. I hope you can forgive me for my timing, but it seems that there is never a good time to leave."
Before being tapped as chancellor, Currie led Coastline Community College as its president for nearly seven years. She serves on the boards of directors of the American Council on Education, the Center for Global Integrated Education and as the immediate past chairwoman for the American Assn. of Community Colleges.
Currie also served as the chairwoman of the Community College Advisory Panel for the College Board, the nonprofit that administers the A.P. and SAT tests.