LIMA — Debra McCurdy, president of Rhodes State College in Lima, announced Wednesday her upcoming departure from the college.
“I want to announce that I will be leaving the college at the end of spring, so don’t celebrate quite yet,” she said. “We have a lot of work left to do so at the end of spring semester probably April or early May time frame, I will leave Rhodes State College for another opportunity.”
She has accepted the position of president at Baltimore City Community College in Baltimore, Maryland.
“You’re not going to see day-to-day changes over the next six months. What you are going to see is probably a heavier push to get things in place and to move forward. So if you think this came quick, it did. So no one was aware except one or two people who had to be notified. Up until probably this weekend it was still, from my point of view, a little bit iffy whether or not I would depart or not. I decided at this time that, as I’ve said to the board and the cabinet last night, the next institution will be my last hurrah, so I’m sure they’ll be in for a big surprise as I take the helm there and work with their team to move that institution to higher heights, as well,” she said.
McCurdy was proud of what was accomplished during her time at Rhodes State College.
“I believe we’ve done some wonderful work at this college. When we think back to how far we’ve come, how many challenges we’ve overcome, it is absolutely phenomenal the change in just the physical presence of this college, a tremendous change thanks to all of the work of all of you,” she said.
One of the big challenges is getting the downtown campus plans and construction going. Groundbreaking isn’t expected until December of 2019, that’s after McCurdy’s departure.
“Dr. McCurdy has been a strong leader for Rhodes and Rhodes continues to, I believe, provide a really important educational resource in our community with a very diverse set of offerings. Of course, we’re continuing to look forward to their presence in the downtown, so she has been really an important decision-maker in driving that process for their downtown presence. So this comes as very much a surprise, but I believe the board has made clear their firm intention to continue to downtown project going forward, and that’s important for the community to understand,” said Lima Mayor David Berger.
McCurdy has been president at the college since Feb. 1, 2006. She previously served as provost and chief operating officer at Georgia Perimeter College in Dunwoody, Georgia. She replaced Earl Keese, who retired in 2005 after serving as president for almost six years.
The board was notified at Tuesday night’s board meeting that she was leaving. The board has yet to determine the logistics for the search for a new president.
“She has not failed us,” said Dr. Wilfred Ellis, board chair. “She has been a tremendous president in this academic institution. Through all of the trials and tribulations, she has risen above them all with grace, humility, strength and aplomb. When she recognized that something needs to be done, she went forth and got it done, no matter what. She is tremendously smart, tremendously organized and I got news for wherever those folks are where [she’s] going to. I have told them, ‘Y’all get ready to work because that’s what Dr. McCurdy is all about.’”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.