Oakton Community College President Margaret B. Lee says she plans to retire from the school when her current contract expires in June 2015.

The school, with campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, serves communities with a population of about 450,000 residents, including Evanston.

At Tuesday night’s OCC board meeting, Lee said she made the decision with very mixed emotions, but wanted the board to have time to develop and conduct a thoughtful search process to identify her successor.

“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,” Lee told the board.

Lee’s joined the school in 1985 as vice president of academic affairs. She has served as president since 1995, and is only the third president in the school’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.

Board Chair Joan W. DiLeonardi said Lee’s “unwavering focus on student achievement has furthered Oakton’s position as a leader among community colleges.” DiLeonardi added, “Her dedication to providing a quality education for all students, and her commitment to making Oakton an institution that provides lifelong opportunities are unparalleled.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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