This story has been updated since it was first published.
After plotting his exit from the school for months, President Mark Rocha will retire at the end of August, according to a school official.
Rocha cited a desire to return to teaching, to move on and family as reasons for his retirement.
“I’ve started my tenth year as a community college president and that is a good long run in this kind of work,” Rocha said in a prepared statement released by the school on Thursday. “It’s time for me to spend more time with my family and return to my passion for teaching and writing.”
The Board accepted Rocha’s decision to step down.
“I speak for the Board in saying that we accept Dr. Rocha’s decision to retire with profound gratitude for his leadership over the past four years,” Board President Anthony Fellow said in the statement. “Dr. Rocha brought the college safely through one of the worst budget cuts in California’s history. We will understand and fully respect his decision to turn the reins over to the great administrative team he has assembled.”
A board member said Thursday that Rocha’s retirement has been in the works for months and he had been negotiating his departure before he unsuccessfully applied for the presidency of Kingsborough Community College in New York.
“We’ve [the Board] been working to resolve, well maybe not resolve, but instead to reach an agreement on the timing and terms of his retirement, “ Trustee Bill Thomson said.
“The timing has been announced, but the terms are confidential. His departure was in the works before he applied at Kingsborough…it was just about conditions and terms of how he will depart PCC.”
Thomson said he’s not allowed to discuss the details of Rocha’s severance package.
“I’m restricted from commenting on the severance package, but I’m sure that at some point someone will apply for a Freedom of Information Act and get a copy of it. Until that occurs I cannot comment on that,” Thomson added.
The decision for Rocha’s departure was mutual between him and the Board with no animosity from Rocha or the Board, according to Thomson.
Rocha’s contract with the District began in July 2010 and ran through June 2014, but was extended through June 2017 at an annual salary of more than $250,000.
The college’s statement cited some of Rocha’s accomplishments during his tenure.
Rocha completed the Measure P bond construction program plan with the opening of the Center for the Arts, the First Year Experience Pathways Program won the Chancellor’s Award for Student Success in 2012, and Rocha led the transition to a new college-wide technology system, the statement read.
But, the embattled President’s tenure was also mired in several controversies.
The unpopular decision to cancel Winter Intersession was eventually ruled to be illegal by the State of California’s Public Employment Relations Board, and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office ordered the administration to rescind the action of adding an Extended Spring term in 2013. The administration changed the term to Summer One causing transfer problems for hundreds of students at the time.
Rocha received several no-confidence votes from student and faculty organizations, accusing Rocha and the administration of violating shared governance procedures.
Rumors of Rocha stepping down started to circulate around campus back in March, but Rocha adamantly denied them.
“Where does this stuff come from? Who is your source?” Rocha said in an email to the Courier in March.
“Not only have I not resigned, the Board of Trustees and I are working closely together on long term plans for the college that will take my service as president well beyond 2017.”
Fellow also denied campus rumors of Rocha’s possible departure.
“I must say the rumor mill at PCC is one of the best in the world. And as a ten-year professional daily newspaper editor and reporter, most rumors should be left on the newsroom floor,” Fellow said to the Courier in a March email.
“I assure you that the president of PCC continues and will be President Mark Rocha,” Fellow added.