An 11-year chapter in the Contra Costa Community College District’s history will close at the end of this year, as Chancellor Helen Benjamin has announced her Dec. 31 retirement.
Benjamin expressed her gratitude in a district-wide email sent Jan. 27, for both those who have helped her in her journey through the college district and the many others she met along the road.
“I could not have worked in a better place,” said Benjamin, who started with the college district in 1990 as the dean of language arts and humanistic studies for Los Medanos College before working her way up through the ranks. “I have been allowed to grow, develop and contribute alongside many of you as we have transformed the lives of thousands of students.”
While the retirement announcement came as a surprise to LMC President Bob Kratochvil, he said it is well deserved and her legacy will live on for generations.
“Dr. Benjamin has had such a positive impact on so many lives – not only in our district and community but statewide and nationally as well,” explained Kratochvil, adding that “her departure is going to leave a huge void.”
As for the daunting process of hiring a three-college district chancellor, CCCCD Director Communications and Community Relations Tim Leong said the task will fall to the district’s governing board, but the path to finding a permanent replacement could take many different forms. And, although at this point it is still too premature to speculate on what board members will do, they are fortunate to have been given a considerable length of time to decide.
Leong, who came to the district in 2008, said it has been an honor to work with Benjamin and that he has benefited from her knowledge and the connections she has extended to him.
“I just feel really blessed to have been so fortunate to have her as my chancellor,” he said.
Although Kratochvil echoed Leong’s sentiments, he noted that she isn’t done yet and has more to accomplish before December.
“Helen can do more in 11 months,” he said, “than some people can do in 11 years.”