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Community Commentary -- Margaret Gratton

July 14, 2002

As the song goes, "It's Time to Say Goodbye."

Writing this piece is one of my final tasks as Orange Coast College

president, as I retire after having served six wonderful years on campus.

I am pleased to report to you that Orange Coast is in fine shape -- and

will go forward in good and capable hands. The future is bright.

After spending 32 years as a community college educator and leader,

I've decided to retire in order to spend more time with friends and

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family, and to involve myself in writing projects that have been placed

on hold in recent years.

As Orange Coast College prepares to enter its 55th year of operation

this fall, it is renowned as one of America's premier community colleges.

Today, OCC serves 28,000 students who enroll in more than 2,500 courses

each semester. The college is a remarkable place, filled with incredible

stories, people and accomplishments. I feel extraordinarily grateful to

have had my six-year association with Orange Coast College.

It is gratifying that during my presidency, most of OCC's planning

goals were achieved. The college's enrollment increased by 3,000

students, and we hired a hundred new faculty members through replacements

and by expanding faculty positions in order to serve a growing student

population. These new faculty members bring additional energy and

vitality to the campus. They ensure our future as a leader in technical

training and in transferring students to the University of California and

California State University systems.

In January of 2001, OCC received a continuing, full, six-year

accreditation from the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges. OCC's

Foundation recently completed its most successful year ever, and we were

able to raise nearly $18 million in cash and in-kind donations since my

arrival in 1996. Most of the money has gone to scholarships for students.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to all the generous persons who have made

that possible.

We began the 2002 calendar year with a $1-million gift to construct a

new $2.5-million Arts Pavilion on campus, which will break ground next

January. The college's high-tech, state-funded, $12-million,

70,000-square-foot Arts Center opens this fall. We have worked to

renovate and retrofit older buildings, and have significantly expanded

student access to technology. Our students excel in academics and

athletics.

Orange County can be justifiably proud of Orange Coast College!

What most people don't realize, however, is that many of our buildings

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