COCC President Signals Retirement for 2025

June 27, 2024

Dr. Laurie Chesley, president of Central Oregon Community College (COCC), has announced her plans to step down from her role and retire as of June 30, 2025, having served the college as president since July of 2019.

Chesley is only the sixth president in COCC’s nearly 75-year history. The college’s board of directors will be undertaking a national search for Chesley’s successor beginning this fall.

“Serving as president of Central Oregon Community College has been the honor of my life,” said Chesley. “I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and for the confidence that the board of directors has shown in me.” Chesley noted that she is focused on the work of the coming year and continuing to move the college forward.

Among other accomplishments, Chesley successfully navigated COCC through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, broadened the college’s workforce development efforts — including the launch of the Center for Business, Industry, and Professional Development — and is now overseeing the creation of a new learning facility at the Madras campus, focused on health careers and early childhood education programs, that is being supported by a $22 million capital campaign. Under her leadership, the college has continued its tradition of fiscal strength, and it is seeing enrollment numbers rebound from a pandemic-impacted downturn.

Chesley initiated and delivered the college’s first-ever “State of the College” informational address to the community, which will be a recurring tradition. In 2022, she signed a national climate pledge — the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment, a higher education initiative — that strategically reduces the college’s carbon footprint and aligns COCC’s environmental objectives with several hundred other colleges and universities around the country.

“Dr. Chesley was the right choice at the right time for COCC and we’re so thankful for her service to the college and our region,” said Joe Krenowicz, chair of COCC’s board of directors. “We will really miss her.”

Chesley currently serves as a governor-appointed member on Oregon’s Workforce and Talent Development Board and is the secretary/treasurer for the East Cascades Workforce Investment Board.

Prior to joining COCC, she was provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan. Her career in higher education, which includes faculty and administrative appointments at two- and four-year colleges, spans nearly 40 years. She is a first-generation college graduate.

Dr. Laurie Chesley