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Chancellor Griffin announces illness; will retire early

By Thomas Figg-Hoblyn / The Guardsman / @JournalistFigg

City College's Chancellor Don Q. Griffin poses for the Guardsman folowing an interview on May 16th, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. In the interview Griffin spoke about the responsibilities as a Chancellor and expressed that"...the well being of the college" is a very important, "and of course a huge area, that you have to worry about are the students, in other words the well being of the students." /The Guardsman file photo

City College Chancellor Don Q. Griffin announced to the public that he has a brain tumor and will retire earlier than expected, during a Special Board of Trustees meeting held last Wednesday.

Griffin was due to retire in July at the end of the fiscal year.

The agenda for last week’s Special Meeting included the discussion and approval of an Advisory Search Committee to find a suitable replacement for him.

Because of the new circumstances which unfolded, including the Chancellor’s imminent need for medical intervention, an interim Chancellor will need to be picked as soon as possible, until a suitable and permanent Chancellor is chosen.

The news caught many by surprise and quickly circulated around the City College community. Apparently Griffin will undergo surgery within the next few weeks.

English Department instructor Carol Fregly, a long-time acquaintance of Griffin, was beside herself when she heard the news.

“Oh… my… God,” she said, “I hope he is going to be all right.”

Similar reactions of shock, followed by sentiments of goodwill and hope made their way across the campus, and through the rooms, offices, and corridors of City College.

Griffin made the following public statement by email to the faculty, staff and administration on Tuesday morning:



To: CCSF Community
From: Dr. Don Q. Griffin, Chancellor

As some of you may have already heard during my remarks at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, I recently learned that I have a brain tumor which must be removed in the next few weeks. I am in communication and under the care of medical experts at the UCSF hospital, and optimistic for a successful surgery in a few weeks and a positive recovery. However, in order to focus on a full health recovery, I will be retiring a few months earlier than planned and will not be returning after my surgery.

Please be assured that I am working with the Board in their immediate search for an interim community college CEO to step into the Chancellor position by the time I leave (which is anticipated beginning May 1st) to provide leadership to the College for over the next 4-6 months. The search for an interim CEO will be assisted by a search firm and recommendations will be forwarded to the Board.

The Board will move forward as scheduled with the permanent Chancellor search process and engaging the college community directly through its participation on a Steering Committee for screening and selecting final candidates. College community members, as well as outside community members, will have the opportunity to meet and provide input on the final candidates. The Board will continue to keep you posted on this permanent position search process.

In the meantime, I welcome all your expressions of positive support and will have my staff forward messages and well wishes to my attention. It has been a wonderful journey, this past 40+ years with City College, as a teacher, department chair, administrator, and Chancellor. I thank all of you for allowing me to be an integral part of this institution and for your trust and confidence to lead it in the most difficult of times. Your dedication to our students, tenacity to get through hard times, and sacrifice is simply inspirational. I am confident that City College will continue to provide the best opportunities for our students and knowing that provides great personal satisfaction.

With best wishes to all of you for our future!

Chancellor Don Q. Griffin

The Guardsman staff wishes Chancellor Griffin a resolute and speedy recovery.

Dr. Griffin served as chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences from 1969 to 1996, and moved on to become Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. In the wake of scandal with then Chancellor Philip Day, Griffin became interim Chancellor March 1, 2008. He was appointed Chancellor of City College of San Francisco December 18, 2008.

If you would like to share one of your favorite memories of Chancellor Griffin please send it to or @journalistFigg along with your full name and contact information.

The Guardsman