Thursday, February 07, 2013
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ICCB president announces plans to retire

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[February 07, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- Geoffrey Obrzut, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Community College Board, has announced his plans to retire from that position on June 30. Obrzut was first appointed by the board as president and CEO in January 2004.

"I am grateful for the time I have spent leading the Illinois community college system," said Obrzut. "It has been a privilege to work with the excellent staff at the ICCB, and I want to thank them for their professionalism and their dedication to the service they provide to the state and the community colleges.

"I also want to convey my heartfelt gratitude for the support I have received over the years from the board and from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association and the Presidents' Council," said Obrzut. "It has been crucial to maintaining a strong and united system. No state surpasses the quality of education and the dedication to students and their communities that we find with Illinois community colleges."

Under Obrzut's leadership, the ICCB has undertaken a Homeland Security and Campus Safety Initiative, advocated for additional resources for adult education and family literacy, and completed comprehensive reports on textbook costs, baccalaureate degree access, and funding of grants for Illinois veterans and National Guard members.

"Geoff has been a true public servant and champion for the Illinois community colleges and the Illinois Community College Board," said Alexi Giannoulias, who chairs the board. "His passion, commitment and leadership will truly be missed. Geoff is a good friend and I am sad to see him go, but am excited to see what the future holds for him."

"Geoff has served the Illinois Community College System with integrity and has led the system in some of the most financial and political turbulent times in Illinois history," said Guy Alongi, former board chairman. "I wish Geoff well in his retirement and will always consider him a dear and personal friend. The Illinois Community College System owes Geoff a great deal of gratitude for his service over the past 9 1/2 years."

Obrzut has served citizens of the state of Illinois for more than 30 years in government work. His background includes serving as a state representative for the 52nd District in the Illinois General Assembly, where he represented both Triton College and Oakton Community College in his district. He had been elected to the board of trustees of Triton College in River Grove and served on the board from 1981 to 1987.

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Obrzut's achievements include his service as a past officer and chairman of the State Relations Committee of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association. He was named the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association in 1986 and received the Outstanding Service Award from the Illinois Student Association in 1992. Obrzut also served as chairman of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010.

Obrzut also initiated the formation of the ICCB Latino Advisory Committee in March 2008. The committee, composed of statewide advocates on Latino educational issues, members of community colleges and representatives from partner agencies, has helped inform the Illinois community college system on student needs, educational best practices and legislation that affects the Latino student population.

Prior to coming to the Illinois Community College Board, Obrzut was the director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities in the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Obrzut received his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and graduated from Triton College in River Grove. He graduated from West Leyden High School with the Class of 1970. While at West Leyden and at Triton, Obrzut was very active in the environmental movement, founding a group called SOAP, Students Organized Against Pollution. He also played competitive sports, serving as the captain of his high school and college basketball teams.

"This is a true retirement, and I plan to spend a lot of time fishing at my cabin in northeast Wisconsin and golfing in South Carolina," Obrzut said.

The ICCB is the state coordinating board for community colleges. Illinois is home to 48 community colleges in 39 districts and has the third-largest community college system enrollment in the nation.

[Text from Illinois Community College Board file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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