Higher Education and Human Resources

College president retiring

August 16, 2016
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Juan Olivarez
Juan Olivarez. Courtesy Aquinas College

The president of a local college is set to retire after six years in the position.

The Aquinas College Board of Trustees announced today that President Juan Olivarez will leave his post on June 30, 2017.

“(Olivarez) has been a transformational leader for Aquinas, who has provided a strategic vision that has enhanced the college’s academics, student experience and expanded community partnerships,” said Donald Burns, board chair, Aquinas College.

Moving on

Aquinas has formed a board committee, organized by Burns, to discuss the process of selecting a new president.

The committee hopes to have a new president selected by next spring.

Upon his hiring in 2011, Olivarez informed the school that he would serve the college for five years.

Olivarez will continue to have a role with Aquinas after his retirement, working with the Aquinas Foundation to advance the college’s $58-million “comprehensive campaign that invests in people, programs and facilities.”

Olivarez era

During his presidential tenure at Aquinas, Olivarez oversaw the implementation of a strategic planning process that resulted in several college-wide improvements, including a Campus Master Plan, an Academic Master Plan and a Technology Plan.

Olivarez advocated for increased athletics opportunities and also launched numerous undergraduate and graduate degrees, while remaining true to the college’s mission and Catholic identity.

“Aquinas is and will always be a special place for me,” Olivarez said. “It’s where I graduated from and met my wife, Mary. I have cherished my time serving as president, and I will remain a part of the college for many years to come.”

Olivarez’s background

A 1971 alum of Aquinas College, Olivarez was appointed as Aquinas’ seventh president in 2011.

Previously, he served as the president and CEO of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and president of Grand Rapids Community College, a position he held for nearly 10 years.

During his four-decade career in education, Olivarez has been a teacher, school psychologist, dean and president.

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