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MCC president announces retirement plans

September 16, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — Mohave Community College President Michael Kearns has announced that he plans to retire in 2019, after eight years leading the college.

He made the announcement at Friday’s Board of Governors meeting.

“We commend him for his excellent service leading the college over the past eight years and wish him well in his retirement,” Board President Phyllis Smith said after an executive session in which he told members of his plans.

Kearns, 64, joined MCC in 2004 after retiring from his dental practice in Ohio.

He launched the dental school and became Bullhead City campus dean in 2006.

Kearns was named vice chancellor of instruction in 2007 and appointed chancellor a year later.

In September 2010, he replaced Dr. Thomas Henry as president.

Under his leadership, the college said, MCC has seen graduation rates rise to 11 percent higher than the national average. The number of high school graduates entering MCC is above the state and national averages, according to an MCC press release, and MCC has kept more students enrolled and pursuing their higher-education goals.

The MCC student retention rate is 78 percent, according to the release, whereas the statewide average is 54 percent.

“I really enjoy working with our team here to provide high quality and affordable higher education for our students,” Kearns said. “I’ll keep working with the team on our mission and goals, and help make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Board members praised Kearns’ accomplishments during his tenure with the college.

“Under Dr. Kearns’ capable leadership, the college has flourished,” said Julie Bare, who was elected to the MCC board in 2008. “He is dedicated to the mission of the institution, and coordinated the development (of) and continual focus on our strategic plan. He will be missed, but I am happy for him. He deserves to enjoy more time with his family and more miles trekking in the Grand Canyon.”

Shawn Bristle, former Bullhead City campus dean and now the college’s chief of innovation and transformation, shared similar thoughts.

“We’ve been fortunate to enjoy a strong leader,” he said. “President Kearns has guided the college with a steady hand.”

Bristle credited Kearns with helping MCC navigate its way through diminishing appropriations and nationwide decreases in enrollment that have forced other colleges to close.

“Despite the challenges, President Kearns not only eliminated college debt incurred long before his tenure, but he significantly improved the campuses,” Bristle said. “Each of the four campuses has benefited from his systematic approach to campus development.”

The board scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to begin the process of a national search for a replacement.

Bristle said there will be huge shoes to fill, in more than just the obvious sense.

“I will personally miss the humor with which President Kearns engages all of us,” he said. “He takes his job very seriously, but he also loves to good-naturedly mess with people. His financial stewardship skills are incredible, but his humor keeps him grounded. Again, we’ve been fortunate to enjoy a president who is truly a decent man.”

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