Columbia Gorge Community College president Dr. Frank Toda and the college Board of Education have reached a mutually acceptable separation agreement. The board unanimously approved the agreement at a special board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 15.
Under terms of the agreement, Dr. Toda will officially wrap up 16 years of service to the college on Sept. 29. The board will begin an immediate search for an interim president while it recruits nationally for the college’s next chief executive.
“We want to thank Dr. Toda for his many contributions to the college,” said Board Chair Stu Watson. “The board wishes him well in future endeavors as it pursues initiatives to strengthen the college and expand access to education for our entire community.”
Dr. Toda, after a successful career with the U.S. Air Force, took office as president in July 2001. Four months later, voters approved annexation of central and eastern Hood River County to the existing district, which included most of Wasco County.
During Dr. Toda’s tenure, the college greatly expanded its physical footprint. It added a building to house its respected health sciences program. By contributing land on the campus, the college secured additional classroom space inside the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, which opened in April 2014. The college shares the facility with the Oregon National Guard.
With bonding support in Hood River County, the college during Dr. Toda’s tenure purchased property on the Heights where it added a new classroom building in 2008.
During Dr. Toda’s time as president, the college added nursing, renewable energy (now electro-mechanical technology) and computer science programs. The college also enhanced agreements enabling students to complete four-year college degrees remotely.
After 36 years operating under the auspices of Portland Community College, in 2013 CGCC achieved independent accreditation during Toda’s tenure, and in the spring of 2017 was selected an Hispanic Serving Institution. This past spring, with Dr. Toda’s support, the college board declared sanctuary status. More than 30 percent of CGCC students are of Latino ancestry.
“Going forward, the college board fully intends to build upon the successes achieved during Dr. Toda’s tenure,” Watson added. “In this on-going journey, we look forward to the continuing contributions of a talented staff and faculty. Of greatest importance is the trust placed in this institution by our students and community. We will endeavor every day to validate that trust.”
In a parting statement at Tuesday’s board meeting, Dr. Toda recognized past and present board members, and identified the college’s achievement of independent accreditation as one of the proudest accomplishments of his presidency.
Citing the college’s mission statement, Dr. Toda concluded, “Let’s continue to build dreams and transform lives.”