Interim Superintendent/President, beginning June 1, 2014
Dick Robertson had just left the Navy as a lieutenant junior grade in 1971 when he landed a job as director of student activities at Butler County Community College in Butler, Pa., about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh. “It was the only job available at the time,” said Robertson, who figured he would stay only until he could find something better elsewhere.
Those plans changed quickly. “Within six months, I was a born-again believer in community colleges,” Robertson said. “I loved what was happening, I loved the diversity, I loved the mix in age and cultures. Community colleges allow people from any background to reach their academic goals.”
Robertson’s devotion to the mission of a community has only grown stronger over the years. He came to MiraCosta College as vice president of student services in 1987, and in April, Robertson was named interim superintendent/president of the sprawling MiraCosta Community College District until a permanent replacement for Dr. Francisco Rodriguez can be found. Rodriguez left June 1 to take over as chancellor at the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest in California.
As vice president of student services, Robertson directs a program that includes admissions, campus police, counseling, financial aid, diversity recruitment, intercollegiate and intramural athletics, health services, service learning, tutoring, student activities and government, and several other departments.
This is the second time Robertson has served as acting college president, the first in 2007.
“Dick Robertson’s passion for doing right for students is absolutely unsurpassed,” said David Broad, president of the MiraCosta Community College District’s Board of Trustees. “He also has tremendous energy and drive and he knows this college inside and out.”
Robertson was raised in Michigan and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, in 1965. He earned his master’s degree from Michigan State University in 1967 and was then drafted, which prompted enlistment as a Navy officer. In 1981, he earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State in administration and higher education. He served as dean of students and dean of instruction at Butler Community College before heading west.
“I was getting weary of the winters in western Pennsylvania and my wife agreed to try something different,’” Robertson said. “I saw an ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education for an opening at MiraCosta College. I had no idea where Oceanside was. I thought it was somewhere near San Francisco. I came out here for an interview in December and it was 72 degrees, sunny and I could see the ocean from campus. I thought, `Yes, this would be nice.’”
Robertson, who lives a few blocks from the Oceanside Campus, has quipped that his commute from work typically takes a couple minutes, unless traffic backs him up for another 30 seconds or so.
A huge fan of Michigan State athletics (“My next-favorite team is whoever beats Michigan”), Robertson has held posts as president of the California Community College Student Service Administrators Association and vice chair of the Commission on Education Policy for the Community College League of California.
He has no immediate plan to retire from MiraCosta College.
“We have great a great faculty, we have wonderful students, we have small classes, and we have the best locations you could possibly have for our campuses.”