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Oakton President Margaret Lee Announces Retirement

Des Plaines, IL (February 19, 2014) – Oakton Community College President Margaret B. Lee, Ph.D., and Board Chair Joan W. DiLeonardi, Ph.D., announced yesterday Lee’s request that her contract not be extended beyond its June 30, 2015 expiration. Lee said she made the request with very mixed emotions, but wanted the Board to have time to develop and conduct a thoughtful search process to identify her successor.

In a statement at the February 18, 2014, Oakton Community College Board of Trustees meeting, Lee said, “I have been blessed so abundantly and have had the privilege to serve in this College and in this community for 30 years. Oakton, its people, and its students, are woven into the fabric of my life and the life of my family. We are all connected.  I have a sure and certain confidence the ties that bind us will not be broken. My heart is overflowing with gratitude.”

Lee’s tenure at Oakton began in 1985 when she was named vice president of academic affairs. In 1995, Lee was appointed president, the third president in the institution’s history. A Wilmette resident, Lee holds a doctorate and master of arts degree in English language and literature from the University of Chicago, where she was a Ford Foundation Fellow in the Humanities and a Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Scholar in Women’s Studies.

In 2012, Lee was named one of the “Most Powerful and Influential Women of Illinois” by the National Diversity Council. She has received numerous awards and distinctions for her work promoting equity, diversity, and lifelong learning and has provided visionary direction for higher education in the state and in the nation. Under her leadership, the New York Times named Oakton among the best community colleges in the country.

“President Lee’s unwavering focus on student achievement has furthered Oakton’s position as a leader among community colleges,” said DiLeonardi. “Her dedication to providing a quality education for all students, and her commitment to making Oakton an institution that provides lifelong opportunities are unparalleled. It is with great sadness that my fellow board members and I accept her notice of retirement.”  DiLeonardi stated that in the coming months, the Oakton Board of Trustees will embark on a search for a new college president.  “My colleagues and I are committed to including the College community in this process,” she added.

Oakton Community College District 535 serves more than 450,000 residents in the communities of Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Northfield, Park Ridge, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka, and parts of Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, and Rosemont. With campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, in sites throughout the district, and via a robust online presence, Oakton offers associates degrees in 80 fields of study as well as learning opportunities for career advancement and personal enrichment.

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