After almost 50 years at the University of Hawaiʻi, Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton has announced plans to retire on June 1, 2019.
In his current position, Morton has been responsible for executive leadership, policy decision-making, resource allocation and development of support services for the University of Hawaiʻi‘s seven community colleges. He previously served as chancellor at Kapiʻolani Community College for 21 years. He started his UH career at Leeward Community College as a faculty member in chemistry and political science in 1970.
“My attraction to a community college career in large part rests on the social justice principles embedded in the foundation of community colleges,” Morton wrote in a message announcing his retirement to the UH ʻohana. “The idea that the benefits of higher education should accrue to all Hawaiʻi citizens was a radical notion when we were created in 1964, but we have demonstrated that given the opportunity and the right support, our students, who historically had been largely excluded, both desired to attend college and could succeed when given the chance.”
Under Morton’s tenure, the Hawaiʻi CC Pālamanui campus and Culinary Institute of the Pacific were designed and constructed. More recently, the UH Community Colleges launched Hawaiʻi Promise, a need-based “last dollar” scholarship for qualified students enrolled at any UH community college campus, and the Hawaiʻi Nutrition Employment and Training (HINET) program, which provides assistance that can total more than $4,700 a year for food, transportation, books and other expenses.
UH President David Lassner will be making a recommendation to the Board of Regents for an interim vice president to serve while an open search is conducted. A search advisory committee will be appointed soon and will be asked to work on an aggressive timeframe to provide recommendations to Lassner so that a new vice president can be appointed for the spring 2020 semester.
“The university and the entire state owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to John Morton for a remarkable career spent entirely in public service to the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Lassner. “The UH Community Colleges are widely recognized nationally and internationally as among the best in the world, and John elevated all of us around him with his thoughtful and inspirational leadership. We wish John and his wife Willow all the best for a glorious retirement.”