Dr. Dennis Harkins has announced his retirement as president of Orange Coast College after nine years leading the Costa Mesa campus. Harkins is the 10th — and the third-longest serving — president in OCC’s 70-year history.
Hired in 2009, Harkins oversaw significant changes at Coast during his tenure, including the passage of Bond Measure M, which spurred several construction projects such as the College’s Math Business and Computing Center, Recycling Center, Allied Health Sciences, Biological Sciences and Consumer Sciences Complex, and the much-anticipated OCC Planetarium, which is set to open early next year.
Harkins also joined OCC as the College was addressing an accreditation warning in 2008, and helped guide the resulting changes in some of OCC’s practices, such as a more robust Institutional Research function.
“When I first arrived at Coast, the College was recovering from two significant setbacks — the Great Recession and an accreditation warning in 2008,” wrote Harkins in an announcement to the campus community. “It was a tumultuous time, to say the least, but it was also an opportunity to position Orange Coast College for even greater future success. Our campus and district communities have worked hard to strengthen our processes and, when necessary, invest in new areas of the College.”
In his letter to the campus announcing his retirement, Harkins thanks the Coast Community College Board of Trustees for their vision during the past near-decade, and extends his heartfelt gratitude for his colleagues.
“Being the president of Orange Coast College has been a privilege over the past nine years as I have had the opportunity to collaborate with people who have become more than colleagues, and who work assiduously together every day to ensure that students are supported in reaching their full potential not simply as students, but as people,” he writes. “I simply [could not have] prosper[ed] without the endless support of OCC’s faculty, staff, and managers. My cabinet members have been and continue to be the strength behind my success in these past nine years along with my executive assistants who inspire me daily.”
Coast Community College District Board of Trustee President Mary Hornbuckle underscores the impact that Harkins has made at OCC.
“Dr. Harkins has been president of Orange Coast College during a time of great change,” she says. “He has had oversight of the development of the Math and Computing Center, the Planetarium and the Recycling Center. He has helped to get student housing, a new student center and an aquatics center moving along. He has left his mark on OCC and we are the better for it.”
CCCD Chancellor John Weispfenning echoes that sentiment.
“Throughout Dr. Harkins’ presidency, he has kept OCC focused on students and their futures. His established record of dedication, service, and contributions to Orange Coast College and the Coast Community College District speaks for itself,” he says.
Dr. Harkins plans to retire at the end of the Fall 2018 semester, after which he will relocate to Florida with his wife, Kim. His letter to the campus community can be viewed on OCC’s Office of the President website.
The District will immediately begin an internal search for an interim president, with a nationwide search for the permanent President beginning in October. It is expected that the permanent OCC president will begin in July of 2019.
This article was released by Orange Coast College.