by George Lorenzo
Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of my close friends and colleagues talk about their upcoming retirement years, and my response has always been the same: I tell them how much I dislike the word “retire” because, to me, it has a word-defining connotation that emphasizes a next phase of life in which one gets ready to lie down and go to sleep or something to that effect.
Recently, I had a very nice conversation about retirement with SOURCE Editorial Board member John Roueche. John, among numerous accomplishments in the field, has served as director of the Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at the University of Texas at Austin for more than 40 years.
A long list of well-known community college leaders have studied and learned from John and other distinguished faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin CCLP. Some of its graduates include current American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) President, Walter Bumphus; AACC President Emeritus, George Boggs; President of the Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Belle Wheelan; President of the Cuyahoga Community College District, Jerry Sue Thornton; Director of CCCSE, Kay McClenney; Chancellor of Western Governors University, Texas, Mark Milliron; and too many more to list here.
John is leaving the University of Texas at Austin in September. Consequently his colleagues have been bestowing John with lots of special tributes, thanks and awards, the most recent being a very special acknowledgment and award ceremony at last month’s AACC convention luncheon, featuring an impressive video of community college leaders reflecting on John’s great body of work.
CC Leaders Typically Don’t Retire
Getting back to the recent conversation about retirement I had with John, I started out by saying, “you don’t strike me as someone who will actually retire, and so would you mind explaining what your plans are for the future?” John replied with “I don’t have one friend who has successfully retired,” and he added that he frequently gets calls from former community college presidents who are seeking to return, or who have already returned, to some form of work with community colleges after a brief respite. “So many have retired and did not realize how much they enjoyed what they were doing for so many years, and so wonderfully well, that they missed it.” John mentioned Terry O’Banion [also a SOURCE Editorial Board member], who, for example, went into retirement in 1999 and came out of it within six months. “I think he has been working harder in the last 13 years than he did before [his so-called retirement],” John said.
A New Path Related to another CCLP
So, John may be retiring from the University of Texas at Austin, but he certainly is not pulling himself out of the game. He will be swinging the bat for a good many more years. John is no different than the many community college leaders he has taught and/or worked closely with who had left their once long-held positions and then shortly thereafter moved on to something new. In John’s case, he has already put his plans in motion by taking on the role of Chair of the National American University (NAU) Community College Advisory Board.
Last year, the NAU Advisory Board started to plan out what John said there is a great need for: the development of more graduate-level programs with a specialization in community college leadership, including a cohort, hybrid Ed.D program that NAU is planning to roll out next year provided that it obtains approval under its regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission and its membership with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Other members of the Advisory Board include Boggs; Donald Cameron, President Emeritus of Guilford Technical Community College; Gerardo de los Santos, President and Chief Executive Officer League for Innovation in the Community College; Terry O’Banion, President Emeritus and Senior League Fellow, League for Innovation in the Community College and Senior Advisor, Higher Education Programs, Walden University; Thornton; and Margaretta Brédé Mathis; NAU Provost Samuel D. Kerr, and the President of Online Learning Robert Paxton, will serve as ex-officio members and as internal resources for the board.
In case you haven’t noticed, in addition to John, there are three community college working retirees on the NAU Advisory Board: Boggs, O’Banion and Cameron.
“NAU has been tracking the withdrawal of support from some of the major universities to continue strong preparation programs for community college leaders,” John said. “If you look at universities around the country that 20 to 30 years ago were turning out some of the best leaders for our community colleges, many of their community college leadership programs are now defunct.” If you also look at the current growth of community colleges, in general, coupled with research showing a large number of baby-boomer-aged community college presidents getting ready to retire, along with a growing number of community college CIOs of the same age bracket, who often fill presidential vacancies, also retiring, the notion of a critical shortage of well-trained and educated community college leaders looks like a distinct trend on the very near horizon. 1, 2
NAU, known over its 70-year history to date as a successful proprietary institution focused mostly on offering business and allied health programs, has obviously added this new focus on developing an Ed. D program to meet what’s being recognized as a looming shortage of future community college leaders.
“It was not until a year ago when we put this Advisory Board together that it became very clear to us that there was a need for community college leadership programs, and that this need was growing substantially,” said Ronald Shape, CEO of NAU. Regarding the makeup of the Advisory Board, Shape added that “you could not ask for a more knowledgeable group of individuals. As an institution, we are unbelievably excited about this great opportunity.”
Some Final Thoughts and a New Word
So, it certainly looks like NAU has started down an intelligent and much-needed pathway with the help of some solid community college professionals.
And now, to conclude this SOURCE Scholars blog post, it is my opinion that retirement boils down to this: If you love what you do, you will keep doing it in some meaningful capacity until the end. Now that’s living, not retiring. And finally, it is in that spirit that I’d like to suggest a new word and definition to our lexicon that replaces the word retirement : “Shiftupment”: (Verb) The art of shifting into a new gear of life in which you continue to share your knowledge as much as possible after leaving the job(s) you had held for many years.
- Christopher Shults. (2001). The Critical Impact of Impending Retirements on Community College Leadership. American Association of Community Colleges. http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Publications/Briefs/Documents/11062001leadership.pdf
- Jim Riggs. (2009). Leadership, Change and the Future of Community Colleges. Academic Leadership, The Online Journal, Volume 7, Issue 1. http://www.academicleadership.org/298/leadership-change-and-the-future-of-community-colleges/
Recent articles about John Roueche:
David Pluviose. (April 24, 2012). Retiring CCLP Director John Roueche Celebrated at AACC Conference. Diverse Education. http://diverseeducation.com/article/17022/
Ellen Ullman. (April 2, 2012). Community Reflects on Leadership Guru Roueche as He Retires. Community College Times. http://www.communitycollegetimes.com/Pages/Academic-Programs/College-community-reflects-on-leadership-guru-Roueche-as-he-retires.aspx