Edison finalist wanted to retire twice
FORT MYERS - A finalist for Edison State College's presidential search wanted to retire twice in the last five years - but says he's not ready to call it a career.
"I'm not the type to pull up a rocking chair on the front porch," said Eric McKiethan, "and just sit there and rock the rest of my days."
McKeithan is president of Cape Fear Community College in North Carolina and one of Edison's four finalists.
After McKeithan announced his retirement in January, dozens of students at Cape Fear serenaded him with "I want you back" by the Jackson 5.
"My major objectives coming to Cape Fear to get the institution back on its feet," said McKeithan, "have been accomplished."
Those accomplishments include 18 years at Cape Fear, turning around a struggling college reeling from illegal course scandals and facing their own accreditation issues.
McKeithan, who has over 40 years experience in higher education, has served on SACS committees similiar to the one that evaluated Edison.
He says he turned around 33 accreditation violations at Cape Fear. By contrast, Edison has 14 SACS violations including lack of integrity.
"Well," said McKeithan, "I've fixed worse I can tell you that much."
"I don't see anything at Edison," he said, "that cannot be fixed."
McKeithan announced he was retiring in 2007 but agreed to stay on after the search for his replacement fell apart.
He ended up staying five more years. In January he announced he was retiring again.
"This time there will be no extensions," he wrote. "Other pursuits await."
"My announcement to retirement was simply 'I'm leaving Cape Fear Community College,'" said McKeithan.
"Given that you tried to retire twice how can you prove to the community that you're in this for the long run?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"The only thing I can present to you Matt," said McKeithan, "is look at my track record."
McKeithan said he would commit to "five or six" years at Edison for now.
The chair of the board of trustees for Cape Fear had high praise for McKeithan saying he's not surprised he's seeking another challenge saying he has too much energy to slow down.
Edison's board of trustees will bring the final four candidates back for another round of interviews and a campus tour in the next two weeks.
A final decision is scheduled to be made June 1.