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President Sechrist Announces Plans to Retire Summer 2015


    (Published: 10-13-14)

OCCC President Dr. Paul Sechrist

Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) President Paul Sechrist announced to faculty, staff, and students that he intends to retire July 1, 2015. President Sechrist expressed his appreciation for the opportunity over the last decade to lead one the best and most respected community colleges in the nation.

Sechrist, 60, was appointed president in 2005. He is credited with focusing efforts on increasing retention and graduation rates at the college. He encouraged the state of Oklahoma to become part of the national initiative, "Achieving the Dream," designed to implement programs to close achievement gaps. OCCC was recently named a "Leader College" by Achieving the Dream, a prestigious recognition given to community colleges that have demonstrated significant gains in student achievement. "Our success in focusing our efforts on student success and increasing the number of graduates is what I am most proud of as president," said Sechrist.

Early in his tenure as president, OCCC expanded the OKC-GO Program, which provides free tuition for graduates of Oklahoma City and Western Heights Public Schools. Since the inception of this program, over 5,500 students have used this full scholarship program to go to OCCC without having to worry about the cost of tuition.

What may be most noticeable at OCCC over the last few years is the significant number of new buildings and change in the overall look of campus. Sechrist acknowledged that OCCC has been on a building and campus improvement campaign during his time as president. New buildings include the Robert P. Todd Science-Engineering-Math Center, Health Professions Center, Family and Community Education Center, John Massey Center and the Visual and Performing Arts Center and VPAC Theater. The Capitol Hill Center is set to be completely renovated beginning in January. The landscaping and outdoor spaces of the campus have been dramatically improved, including the planting of over 1,000 trees.

"Dr. Sechrist has been a great president, and his positive impact will be felt for decades to come," said Teresa Moisant, chair of the OCCC Board of Regents. "His commitment to the students, his ability to work effectively with faculty and staff, and his passion for education will long be remembered."

OCCC Regent Devery Youngblood said the 10 years of President Sechrist's leadership have been "truly transformational." Youngblood explained, "It is easy to see the new buildings on campus that are providing expanded opportunities to both students and the community. His leadership has also produced greater access to college and a record number of graduates, primarily among first-generation college students and those from challenging socio-economic circumstances. His legacy is in the stories of changed lives that will benefit not our students' families for generations to come, but our economy as well."

OCCC, located in south Oklahoma City, enrolls 22,000 in its college programs annually and another 8,000 in its adult basic education programs. This last year, OCCC awarded 2,045 degree and certificates, the largest number in the college's 42-year history.