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RCC president to retire

Kemper-Pelle plans to stay until June of 2022
Cathy Kemper-Pelle

Rogue Community College President Cathy Kemper-Pelle announced Tuesday that she plans to retire at the end of June 2022. She became RCC’s sixth president July 1, 2016, and has worked in higher education since 1980.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my leadership role at RCC and will miss working with such a stellar group of individuals," Kemper-Pelle wrote in an email to employees. "However, Rob [her husband] and I have five grandchildren who have graciously endured a long-distance relationship, and it is time to be hands-on, supportive grandparents before they get too much older."

Kemper-Pelle indicated that she will support the school “with all my heart” during its search for her successor. The RCC Board of Education has yet to release details about the search.

"I am going to be sad to see Cathy go," board member Claudia Sullivan said in the news release. "She has really steered RCC in an innovative direction and has the drive, vision and energy that has made innovations possible. However, I understand that Cathy's young family will only want her attention for a limited time, and she might regret not attending to them while the gettin’s good. I'm grateful that she is giving the board and the college a year to find a new president."

Kemper-Pelle and three regional presidents worked together to develop the Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium in 2019, a regional education and workforce development entity tasked, according to its website, with “tackling some of the region’s most vexing higher education issues.” She also helped create the Department of Institutional Research.

Kemper-Pelle serves on several regional boards, including for ACCESS, Britt Festival, Medford-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and Rogue Workforce Partnership. She also serves as chair of the Oregon Presidents’ Council, a monthly assemblage of the presidents of Oregon’s 17 community colleges.

Prior to joining RCC, Kemper-Pelle served as vice president of learning at Lee College in Baytown, Texas, from 2010 to 2016.

Kemper-Pelle earned an associate’s degree from Illinois Central College in 1975 and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology. She earned a Doctor of Education in community college leadership from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.

Kemper-Pelle’s announcement comes about six weeks after RCC’s Board of Education voted unanimously to renew her contract, and about two-and-a-half months after the school announced it would be closing three buildings in downtown Medford as a cost-cutting move to deal with declining enrollment and revenue losses. The major restructuring is expected to save the college about $1 million a year in overhead, and other measures are in the works, including up to 15 layoffs and a reduction in the number of classes for part-time teachers.