Photo: Joshua Groom / The Ebbtide
After six years as SCC’s president, Cheryl Roberts is preparing to move on. Roberts announced her retirement in an email sent to college faculty and staff on Feb. 1 and to students on Feb. 4.
A four-year employment contract between Roberts and the college’s board of trustees will expire June 30, 2022. Roberts had the option to renew the contract after its end date, but decided “the time was right” to retire.
Her decision was influenced by the impending conclusion of a strategic plan Roberts crafted with the board of trustees.
“I really wanted the new president to have the same advantage I did, which was to enter into the campus listening and learning and developing the plan for the next three to five years,” Roberts said.
“I got a question at one of our campus updates: ‘What about the strategic plan?’ It just seemed really important to say, ‘I won’t be the person to help work on that with the college — that will be your new president.’”
Roberts’ retirement comes after 25 years of working at community colleges; 13 of which have been spent serving as a college president. In 2014, Roberts became SCC’s eighth president following a unanimous vote by the board of trustees.
The tenure hasn’t come without hardships. Low enrollment rates and financial decline plagued the college even before COVID-19 arose. In January 2020, the board of trustees announced faculty and staff layoffs. The administration believed that it would be the only round of cuts to positions, Roberts said, but the pandemic exacerbated the issue.
“We had to start to make adjustments, and we started doing that in the spring of 2020 when we saw that the pandemic was going to be long-lasting,” Roberts said.
“We did that very painful process of having to look at vacant positions, of course, first, and then looking at positions at the college and knowing that every position represents a person. And a life. And a livelihood.”
The financial troubles the college has faced during Roberts’ time in office were addressed in a vote of no confidence resolution by the faculty senate. The vote was held Feb. 10.
In her last year, Roberts plans to wrap up her strategic plan and assist the college in projects such as reopening the campus, implementing the Guided Pathways initiative and transitioning to ctcLink software. Roberts has worked to promote inclusivity in the community, and will take part in hiring a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Executive Director for the college.
As for Roberts’ post-retirement plans? She looks forward to lots of knitting and taking culinary classes.
“To the students, I want to thank them for believing in Shoreline and entrusting their educational journey with us. It’s been my deep joy to be part of it,” Roberts said.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for articles detailing the faculty senate’s vote of no confidence and the search for a new college president.