Christa Adams stayed home yesterday sitting next to a box of tissues as the campus community learned of her plans to retire.
She needed it when the calls and notes came in.
The first female president of Owens Community College, who took the reins in 2001, will serve as president through Dec. 31, 2010, but then it's time for a new adventure, Ms. Adams said.
"Timing is everything and there is a time for choices. You know that old saying that when it's time you'll know it? People have been telling me this for a long time and I think its true," said Ms. Adams, 68.
"It's time to do something else. I just don't know exactly what that's going to be yet."
In a letter addressed to Owens Board of Trustees Chairman John Moore and sent to the campus community yesterday, Ms. Adams said that leadership is about people and thanked everyone she's worked with in leading the college.
"I have loved every single day with every single one of my Owens friends," she wrote.
An emotional Ms. Adams recounted yesterday her time at Owens, saying she's most proud of the Owens Success program that allows students to attend college for free and the shared leadership model that includes everyone at Owens.
She gave $10,000 to help expand the scholarship program.
It always has been and always will be about the students, Ms. Adams said, and her proudest moments have been watching them graduate.
"I'm most proud of the fact that we've been able to serve more and more students and do that on such a tight budget," she said. "And my most rewarding time is probably sitting on the commencement stage and watching the students and getting some hugs."
Ms. Adams was appointed president in May, 2001, and officially started on July 26. Her current salary is $265,212.
She came to Owens after serving five years as president of St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron, Mich.
Mr. Moore was on the search committee when Ms. Adams was selected to replace Daniel Brown, who retired after leading Owens for 17 years.
Her passion for community colleges stood out back then and has remained throughout her leadership at Owens, Mr. Moore said.
"It's going to be hard, very difficult to replace Christa Adams," he said.
"She's been exactly the right person and at the right time to come to Owens Community College."
In her eight years leading Owens, enrollment has grown considerably - in the fall of 2001 there were 17,236 students, compared to 23,606 this year - and a number of new buildings have popped up on campus, including the $20 million Center for Emergency Preparedness.
And Owens has gained a state and national reputation among community colleges with Ms. Adams at the helm, Mr. Moore said.
University of Toledo President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs said Ms. Adams has done a lot for education in the area and will be missed.
"Christa Adams is a wonderful partner and great contributor to education in northwest Ohio," Dr. Jacobs said. "I personally will miss her and wish her all the best."
Bowling Green State University President Carol Cartwright said she enjoys working with Ms. Adams and the partnerships that Owens and BGSU have.
"She's been a great colleague as we've been working together and she certainly was welcoming of me," she said.
While Ms. Adams said she'll have a hard time saying good-bye to the people she loves and have become a part of her life over the years, she looks forward to the college's future under new leadership.
She wanted to give Owens a year to conduct a national search for a new president, which is why Ms. Adams announced her retirement now.
"I got to thinking it is time," she said. "I can't tell you the specifics, but I know that it's time for a new leader to come in and see everything fresh with new vision, and it's time for me to have another adventure."
Contact Meghan Gilbert-Cunningham
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