Westmoreland County Community College President Daniel Obara told trustees Wednesday night that he will retire next summer when his contract with the college ends.
Obara, 70, of Hempfield, was hired in 1996 as vice president of academic affairs and student services. He was named president of the college that enrolls more than 6,000 students in April 2009, succeeding former president Steven Ender.
Obara said retiring next June makes sense because WCCC will be finishing two construction projects — a new campus in Latrobe and an Advanced Technology Center at the former Sony plant in East Huntingdon — as well as completing a periodic accreditation and a major fundraising campaign.
“It's going to be a very appropriate time for new leadership to come in,” Obara said after the monthly meeting. “When the board extended my contract two years ago, I asked them just to extend it those two years rather than three years so that we would have this period where I think it's going to be very favorable for the college to transition to new leadership.”
Obara said he and his wife plan to stay in the area, golfing, kayaking and biking on local trails. He said they plan to travel to visit their grandchildren.
Professor Mike Hricik, president of WCCC's professional association, congratulated Obara at the meeting, calling him a “great friend of the faculty” and noting Obara can still drop and do 100 push-ups.
Reflecting on his years at the school, Obara said graduations have been a highlight.
“The thing that is always most gratifying to me is seeing our students graduate at commencement … and having the knowledge that we've been part of that in some way to enable students to transition to much more productive lives,” Obara said.
In other business, college trustees approved a $38.7 million operating budget and a $7.05 million capital budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Trustees gave the budget that includes 3-percent raises to administrators, staff and coaches and increases college spending about $330,600 preliminary approval last month.
Trustees also approved construction contracts for the Latrobe Center totaling nearly $8.5 million, about $1.5 million above original projections, and for the Advanced Technology Center totaling about $9.4 million, about $1 million below initial estimates.
The board also hired James J. Lutz, of Hempfield, to a newly created position of director of purchasing at an annual salary of $54,799. Lutz holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a purchasing management certificate from Penn State University.
He previously worked as purchasing manager for Hygienic Corp./Performance Health Inc. in Export and Akron, Ohio.
Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or [email protected].