NORWALK — Wilford Michael, president of Cerritos College for more than 13 years, has announced that he will retire at the end of the year.
Michael's announcement during a special management meeting that was convened at his request Wednesday "came as a complete surprise," said Mark Wallace, public information officer.
"I've been thinking about it for some time and thought it is a good time to do it," Michael said in an interview.
The 64-year-old president said that by announcing his retirement now the college Board of Trustees will have five months to fill the position and the new president will be able to be involved in planning for the spring semester beginning early next year.
The seven-member Board of Trustees of the 18,000-student campus was informed of the retirement during a July 15 closed session. Michael presented a letter of resignation to the board during that meeting.
Search for Successor
The board is expected to consider a method of selecting a new chief executive at its next regular meeting Tuesday But board President Dale Hardeman said that he will request that the selection question be delayed until a later date.
"I do not want to make a decision that quickly. We will probably look at how other districts have selected presidents," Hardeman said.
"We will want strong input from faculty, classified, all segments of the college. These people will have to work with the president," Hardeman said.
However, Hardeman added that suggestions made by faculty and others would be strictly "advisory" and that the ultimate decision will rest with the board. "The board will assume the paramount role," Hardeman said.
The board and some faculty members recently squabbled over hiring procedures for a vice president of instructional services. Early last month, the board selected Manuel G. Rivera, the Texas community college administrator who accepted the job but changed his mind to accept the position of president of San Bernardino Valley College.
Some of the faculty were angered because Rivera was not one of the final three candidates recommended to the board by the faculty screening committee. Noel Korn, a retired vice president of academic affairs at East Los Angeles College, was hired as interim vice president of instructional services while a search is conducted to fill the job, vacant since December.
Trips Overseas Planned
Michael said his decision to retire was in no way related to the tussle over the vice president's post.
He said he and his wife Jean had planned a trip to New Zealand and Australia near the end of the year and tentatively planned to go to Europe in the spring. They also planned to spend more time with their 11-month-old granddaughter.
Hardeman described Michael as a "rock-hard professional" who served with "absolute distinction with a strong ability in financial management."
Michael, who has been an educator for almost 40 years, began his career as a math teacher at Compton College. He was a teacher and administrator for 22 years in the Chino Unified School District, and served as an assistant superintendent for business for both the Rancho Santiago Community College and the Santa Ana Unified School District.
Michael came to Cerritos College in 1972 as the assistant superintendent of business and in 1973 was appointed president.
He has a associate of arts degree from Chaffey Community College, a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from La Verne College, a master's degree in curriculum from Claremont Graduate School and a doctorate in educational administration from UCLA.