Next school year will be Art DeCabooter’s 30th as president of Scottsdale Community College, and it will also be his last.
In a brief email to the college’s employees Tuesday, DeCabooterannounced that he intends to retire in spring 2008.
His departure will likely take place sometime between February and July next year.
The SCC president’s two-sentence message did not include what he intends to do after retiring.
“I didn’t want to get melancholy. I wanted people to be aware of it. I didn’t want to wax eloquently about 30 years,” De-Cabooter told the Tribune.
He has been at the college’s helm almost its entire history.
Prior to that, the college’s first eight years were marked by turmoil as deans ran the campus, said Virginia Stahl, SCC vice president for student affairs.
Paul Elsner, former Maricopa County Community College District chancellor, reorganized the system so that each college would have a president.
“When Art came, he brought stability to the college,” Stahl said.
The hallmark of DeCabooter’s tenure has been supporting the college’s faculty, Stahl said. SCC policy requires 90 percent of classes be taught by full-time faculty.
Two-year colleges frequently use low-cost adjunct instructors over professors. “There’s never been any question about where our money would go,” Stahl said.
DeCabooter has ties beyond the academic community.
He’s been at the forefront of the city’s preservation movement and has assumed leadership roles in business organizations, including the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Art is a legacy here and I don’t think there is an organization or an entity that he has not touched here in Scottsdale in his tenure,” said Virginia Korte, former chamber president and faculty member at SCC. “It’s been a blessing for us. I have been honored to have worked for him for many, many years and he’s been a wonderful teacher and a friend.
“I don’t see his retirement from SCC as retirement in the community. I see this as another stepping stone for him,” Korte said.
Earlier this year, DeCabooter saw SCC through its re-accreditation, which secures the college’s future for 10 years.
He said his goal has been to complete 30 years at the college.
“When I first came, (the goal) was to make it one year,” DeCabooter said.
But not all is well at the college.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of criminal fraud involving several past and current SCC employees.
Meanwhile, the district is expected this week to announce the finalists in Mesa Community College’s presidential search, said Chris Chesrown, a district spokeswoman.
Chancellor Rufus Glasper fired Larry Christiansen, president of the Mesa college for 19 years, in February as a fraud scandal enveloped the college.
— Scottsdale city editor Bill Bertolino contributed to this report