Gulf Coast State College President Dr. Jim Kerley announced this week that he will retire effective July 31, 2014. Kerley made the announcement at the annual “Welcome Back” meeting for all college employees.
“The faculty and staff are the heart of the Gulf Coast family, and I felt that they needed to hear it from me first,” he said.
Kerley also wanted to give the District Board of Trustees and the community time to develop a transition plan and conduct a thorough search for the next president. As a longtime educator, administrator and supporter of state and community colleges, he has served in higher education for over 30 years and as a president for 25 years. He became Gulf Coast’s fifth president on June 1, 2007 and will have served seven years as its president when he steps down next summer.
Kerley is known for his focus on regional economic development, career education partnerships and a desire to keep students in the forefront of any decision-making. He will soon help open the College’s largest and most innovative building: the Advanced Technology Center. He also led the College through its name change from Gulf Coast Community College to Gulf Coast State College, and with it, an expansion of its mission by offering workforce-oriented bachelor’s degrees.
Kerley said his decision to retire was not easy, but believes the timing is right. “Following discussions with my wife, Donna, and my family, it is my intent to spend time on our farm in Tennessee and to focus on my family, have the flexibility to travel, write and participate in mission work and other endeavors in which I have strong interests.”
He feels good leaving the College in great financial health and based on the institution’s high marks during its last accreditation audit, in excellent academic shape. “Gulf Coast is rock-solid when it comes to our academics and finances,” Kerley said.
The Board of Trustees will discuss a transition plan at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 5.