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OCCC President Announces Retirement

At the January 24 meeting of the Oregon Coast Community College Board of Education, board members heard an announcement from longtime President, Dr. Birgitte Ryslinge, announcing her intention to retire on Sept. 30, 2024. “June 16 this year will complete my 10th year as President of Oregon Coast Community College,” Ryslinge said. “Without a doubt, this decade has been the best professional experience of my life. I am profoundly thankful for the opportunity to lead this remarkable college in partnership with a student-centered and supportive Board. Over these 10 years, 964 students have earned degrees or certificates at OCCC, changing their lives and their family’s lives for the better … 2024 will be my last year with OCCC. It is my goal to retire from full-time employment by September 30, 2024, so that the next President can usher in the 2024-25 Academic Year.”

Board chair Rich Emery said a retirement announcement has been something Board members have known would be coming for some time. “On behalf of the Board of Education, I can say we look on Dr. Ryslinge’s announcement not with trepidation, but with appreciation – appreciation of a job well done, and of institution having been well-prepared for the changes to come,” Emery said. “Dr. Ryslinge was hired a decade ago, charged with the task

of leading the College to its own independent accreditation. She and her team accomplished that feat in 2020. No one would have second-guessed a decision to retire at that point, at the start of the pandemic. However, true to her nature, Birgitte stayed at the helm and helped the college leverage its nimble nature, its creative team of faculty and staff, and its remarkable student body, to thrive throughout the pandemic, which proved o be devastating to many lesser prepared colleges across the country.

Ryslinge built and fostered a culture of action at OCCC. “Perfect is the enemy of good” was an expression frequently heard in meetings with the President, who urged forward movement as opposed to more meetings. This principle, which she dubbed “Strategic Doing” is something many of her team point to when explaining how the College managed to achieve independent accreditation in five (rather than the expected seven years) and also endure the pandemic with far less loss of enrollment than most other colleges suffered. While thriving under pandemic circumstances and achieving independence would be enough to mark a

successful term of service, Dr. Ryslinge’s leadership led to many other accomplishments.

The College’s relationship with the Lincoln County School District became more robust and productive than at any time in the past, with new options for students to earn college credits while still enrolled in high school and a variety of joint projects designed to expand career and technical education (CTE) options for local students of all ages. “Dr. Ryslinge has been instrumental in developing a post-secondary partnership with Lincoln County School

District,” said Lincoln County School District Superintendent Dr. Majalise Tolan. “That partnership has provided trades and degree seeking education to support our students, county, and workforce.” CTE programs launched under Ryslinge’s tutelage include welding, early childhood education, new programs within nursing and allied health, and the innovative “Teach at the Beach” grow-our-own teacher program, among others.

At the Jan. 24 meeting, the Board created a subcommittee of three members who will meet independently over the next two months to review current employment conditions related to the presidency, gather process options, and report on both to the Board in March. 

Next up for the college’s Board of Education is a joint meeting in February with the Lincoln County School District’s Board of Education. Meanwhile the board is preparing to support its budget committee, which will meet in the spring to review the college’s proposed 2024-2025 budget. To learn more, peruse the links under the “Administration” menu on the college’s website, oregoncoast.edu.

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