Constance M. Carroll, president of Saddleback College during a decade of unprecedented growth and change, calls the period one of the most "thrilling" of her life.
Despite increasingly difficult economic times, the student body has grown from 16,000 to 24,000 students, several new academic programs and an associate in science degree have been added and several new buildings mark the Mission Viejo campus, including the Business/General Studies and the Student Services buildings.
And closest to Carroll's heart is the increase in minorities on the faculty, from 2% when she started to 12% this year. The number of women faculty members has also increased in the past decade, to 43%.
But next week, Carroll will be leaving Saddleback College to become president of Mesa College in San Diego. Carroll, 47, who expects to begin her new job on Feb. 1, will become the first African-American woman to serve as president at any of the three San Diego Community College District campuses.
"Ten years is a long time to perform one function," Carroll said. "I have mixed feelings. Saddleback College is a wonderful place, but I'm looking forward to the new challenges."
A Greek scholar with a teaching and academic background in the humanities, Carroll grew up in Baltimore during a time of segregation and has maintained an interest throughout her career in furthering civil rights. One of Mesa College's main attractions to her is its diverse campus makeup and urban setting, she said. At 28,000 students, Mesa College is one of the largest two-year institutions in the nation.
Carroll was teaching classics at the University of Pittsburgh in the late 1960s when she switched to administration. Before coming to Saddleback College, she served as president at Indian Valley College in Marin County from 1977 to 1983 and as interim chancellor of the Marin Community College District in 1979 and 1980. She also held administrative positions at the University of Maine, Portland-Gorham, and the University of Pittsburgh.
"Constance Carroll will absolutely be missed," said Vern M. Hodge, vice president of student services. "Her 10 years at Saddleback College have made it a better place."
Until a permanent president is selected, math professor and administrator Calvin Nelson will serve as interim president.
To her successor, Carroll offers the following advice: "If one always asks this question about everything--'How will this benefit students?'--then you'll never go wrong," she said. "But to forget that question is the most dangerous thing that can happen."