January 7, 2019 9:15 am

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom President Denise Yochum announced her retirement Jan. 2 after 13 years of dedicated service to the college. She stepped down to focus on her health, and looks forward to remaining a part of the Pierce College family.

During her time at Pierce, the college has made remarkable strides, doubling graduation rates between 2010 and 2018. Yochum has led the college through the construction and renovation of buildings including a new science and math building (with an interactive Science Dome), and improved classroom and student services spaces for student success. She will be greatly missed by the college community.

“As president at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, Denise has been committed to student success and closing achievement gaps for all students,” said Chancellor Michele Johnson. “She has moved the college forward, has been an active and beloved member in the local community, and has been a state leader. She is an inspiration to each of us.”

Johnson has appointed Vice President for Strategic Advancement Deidre Soileau as the interim president of Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. Soileau will not be a candidate for the permanent position.

“We will begin an immediate search for a permanent president with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2019,” said Johnson.

Pierce College, serving 16,000 students annually, operates two campuses at Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup, along with a teaching center at Joint Base Lewis McChord, and a campus at Graham-Kapowsin High School in collaboration with the Bethel School District. Pierce College Fort Steilacoom was recently named one of the Top 10 community colleges in the nation by the prestigious Aspen Institute.