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Retirement Will Have to Wait for Departing Hancock College President José Ortiz

After seven years at the helm, he is heading north to take the job of chancellor for the Peralta Community College District

José Ortiz figured he’d eventually retire as president/superintendent of Allan Hancock College.

José Ortiz
José Ortiz

“I really didn’t think I’d be going to another job after this,” Ortiz said Wednesday, the day it was announced he is leaving the job he’s held for the last seven years to become chancellor of the Peralta Community College District. “I really wanted to retire here.”

But the Peralta district, based in Oakland, decided Ortiz was their man.

“They kind of recruited me and chased me,” Ortiz said, adding that the opportunity to be close to his family, especially his grandchildren, was a big factor in his decision to leave.

Ortiz, 63, was appointed Tuesday night as chancellor of the Peralta district, which has an enrollment of 30,000 students.

“This has been the greatest experience of my life being here at Hancock,” Ortiz said. “I never thought I’d leave. I was not looking for a job. They came looking for me.”

Ortiz called the decision to leave “bittersweet,” noting the strong connection he’s made with the college and the community.

The Peralta district includes Berkeley City College, the College of Alameda, and Laney and Merritt colleges in Oakland. Ortiz formerly served as a vice president at Laney College.

Hancock serves more than 11,500 credit students and 5,500 noncredit students each semester. The college district spans 3,000 square miles in northern Santa Barbara County, and includes college campuses or centers in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Solvang and at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Ortiz said he feels the passage of Measure I, a $180 million bond measure, in 2006, was his greatest accomplishment at Hancock.

“When the board made the determination to go after the bond, I was still very green…” Ortiz said. “So I took it upon myself to be the lead for the campaign for that bond…I took advantage of the opportunity to be involved in the community.”

Looking forward, Ortiz said he believes the greatest challenge facing Hancock involves accreditation — something that many college across the state are struggling with.

Ortiz has served as an educational administrator at several institutions of higher learning, including Laney College in Oakland and Solano Community College in Fairfield; Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md.; the University of Maryland, University College; and the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon.

He holds a doctorate degree in education policy, planning and administration from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in teaching English

“We have had seven great years with Dr. Ortiz,” Bernard “Bee Jay” Jones, president of the Hancock board of trustees, said in the statement. “He has been a tremendous leader and has done an excellent job of representing Allan Hancock College in our community.”

Turning a bit wistful, Ortiz said he will miss many things about Hancock, but mostly the people.

I’m going to miss the students, the interaction with them and the staff…” he said. “I really enjoy interacting with them.”

Ortiz said the Hancock board of trustees will meet Thursday in closed session to discuss how to go about replacing him. He added that appointment of an interim president is likely.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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