DIXON – After 45 years as a professional educator and administrator, George Mihel will retire as president of Sauk Valley Community College next year.
His 10-year run as Sauk’s fifth president will end on July 18, 2015.
“I’m getting old,” said Mihel, 66. “I want to do some traveling that I didn’t get to do over the course of my career.”
Some of the places he wants to see are the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore.
“I’ve never been to those places,” he said. “Those are some of the things I’d like to do.”
Mihel has been an educator since 1970. Before coming to Sauk, he was president of North Central Kansas Technical College.
He also spent time as a math and science teacher in Wheaton, and he taught education classes in the state of Oregon.
Under Mihel’s leadership, the college underwent various improvements, such as remodeling the science, math and welding labs.
Mihel is also proud of the academic programs that were created, including welding, advanced manufacturing and courses in wind energy.
“We’ve added quite a few new programs to meet the needs of the workforce,” he said.
During a time when funding for public education has drastically decreased, the college became financially stronger under Mihel’s leadership.
“The college was in deficit spending, and we’ve turned that around and weathered the financial storm of reductions in enrollment and state funding,” Mihel said. “Financially, we are really strong.”
Trustees always have been presented with a balanced budget during Mihel’s career, he said.
“We have always kept an eye on the finances and making sure we operate within our means,” he said. “With reduced state funding, we’ve had to cut corners here and there, but nothing to affect the operations of the college.”
Although he is retiring, Mihel said he will remain attached to Sauk.
“I will always have an emotional connection with the college,” he said. “I will stay in the community, and I will be a part of the events from games to theater productions.”
The Board of Trustees has created a search committee of community members, trustees and staff members who will draw up a list of qualifications and screen applicants.
“My hope is they will have a new president in place by the first of the year,” Mihel said. “A number of presidents announced their retirement the same time I did. There are lots of vacancies and a lot of schools looking for the best-qualified candidate.”
Scott Stoller is chairman of the search committee; he could not be reached for comment Tuesday.