Yuba College Superintendent / President Dr. Stephen Epler has announced his retirement after seven years of service at Yuba. January 31, 2002 will mark the end of Epler’s career in education, although with accumulated vacation time, his last day of service will be near the end of the 2001 Fall semester.
Beginning at Marysville High School in 1962, Epler has taught at both the high school and community college level, and has held administrative positions at other colleges.
Epler attributes his retirement to “a function of time,” noting that he has reached the limit in benefit allowances granted within the State Teacher’s Retirement Fund. “I would be losing money if I were to stay,” said Epler.
Epler’s fiscal leadership has been the subject of criticism from college faculty recently. With estimates of a potential district-wide budget deficit soaring into the millions, Epler believes Yuba’s greatest challenge is now in “the fiscal area.”
“We weren’t prepared for the costs of fringe benefits,” said Epler, who also noted the contribution of increased utility costs to the budget state.
Still, Yuba College has experienced a major increase in state financial grants during Epler’s term. Grant-supported projects at Yuba now total $8 million, up from $2 million in 1995. Epler also presided over the establishment of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a district-wide partnership based in Colusa County providing contract education and work training.
Increased community involvement has been a major focus of Epler’s term. “We’ve tried to make a greater presence at high schools, said Epler. “We’re considered to be much more involved in the communities we serve.”
Other college improvements have materialized since Epler took office in 1995, including campus beautification, and computerization. “In these seven years, the college has moved from a technologically backwards college to one of those regarded as more cutting edge,” said Epler in a memo to the Board of Trustees.
Epler credits these improvements to the “leadership team,” including the Vice Presidents, and Directors of Technology and Resources, among others.
A member of the Yuba City Rotary Club, Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce and United Way, Epler has played a role in local community-oriented affairs, and now looks forward to relaxation. Epler plans to participate in the “Rent A President” program, offering his services temporarily to other colleges in need of substitute presidents. Epler will join his wife, a former professor of the Math and Science Department at Sacramento’s American River College in retirement.
“I’ve worked hard to make Yuba’s presence known in regional activities,” said Epler. “I think Yuba has moved towards becoming one of the greatest colleges in the state.”