Williams announces plan for retirement
Local native to depart from lengthy role as campus leader
Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 06:08
There rarely is a time when President McKinley Williams is not serving the college.
Between the piles of bureaucratic paperwork and pages of emails he sorts through daily, "Mack" Williams finds time to mentor and counsel his faculty and staff.
Outside of the college, he can be found greeting community members with a big smile accompanying his firm handshake. He is constantly reminding those he encounters his institution is "the premier community college" in West Contra Costa County.
Even during the college football team's worst seasons, Williams could be found at many home games cheering the players on.
And when he finds time for rest and recreation, Williams is planning out the next workday and thinking about how to make Contra Costa College a better place for students.
But in a few months Williams, 65, will no longer have to be performing these duties. After working at CCC since 1989 and as president since 2006, he will be retiring on Dec. 31.
"I think it's time for me," Williams said. "I've spent 21 years dedicated to serving this community."
He announced his retirement to many of his colleagues during the annual All College Day on Aug. 11 in the Knox Center where Chancellor Helen Benjamin presented the itinerary to find a replacement.
"It will be very difficult to get somebody who knows what he knows," Dr. Benjamin said. "He knows everything. He understands facilities and the political aspects of what we do."
On Monday, the district will open the position and begin taking applications for an interim dean to serve from Jan. 1 to June 30. During the spring 2012 semester, officials will open applications for a full-time president to serve beginning July 1.
Back to his roots
Before starting at CCC, Williams worked full time in the Peralta Community College District for 14 years. He began as a psychology instructor at Merritt College in 1976 and eventually became the director of research and planning at the Peralta district office.
The Richmond native would then assume the roles of interim dean of instruction at the College of Alameda and full-time dean of instruction back at Merritt College before returning to his community as the dean of instruction at CCC in 1990.
"It gave me a lot of satisfaction to (begin working) in the community I lived in," he said. "We've made this community a little better."
Those who work with Williams every day said his background in education has helped the college operate more smoothly.
"He is always looking to improve instruction here," administration of justice department Chairperson Rick Ramos said. "I don't think he ever gets disengaged from this place."
Bob Dabney, a retired dean of technology development from CCC, said he remembers working closely with Williams and watching him mold his lifestyle around his profession.
"I've known Mack for a number of years and he's someone who wants to do the very best with education." Dabney said. "His record is one of a fine educator."
Ramos said Williams' love for the community and the college shows through his support for students who belong to minority groups.
"He's always fighting for the little guy and the person who's marginalized by the system," Ramos said. "He fights for the kid from here."
William's colleagues said they often seek his advice when a problem arises.
"Our president has been an excellent leader," Natural, Social and Applied Sciences Division Dean Terence Elliott said. "What we are is (a product) of the leaders we have here."
Dr. Elliott, who recently returned to CCC after taking on the role of interim senior dean of instruction at Los Medanos College, said he did not notice how vital Williams was as a resource until he began working at another college.
"It took going under another leadership to see how important Mack was," Elliott said.
Ramos said Williams has a gift of being able to work through complications others face.
"When everything is crazy he is the voice of reason," Ramos said. "He is the one who will calm you down."
Ramos said Williams demonstrated his skills to push forward and uplift the spirits of workers at the college through a time of massive budget cuts and layoffs last year.
Benjamin said she was surprised at how knowledgeable Williams was when the two began working together. Although Benjamin served as president at CCC from 1999 to 2005, she said she never saw herself as his superior.
"We were more like co-presidents," Benjamin said. "He knew more than I knew."