After five years as Gulf Coast State College's President, Dr. Jim Kerley announced he's retiring at the end of the upcoming school year.
Dr. Kerley says he made his decision after his parents left him a Tennessee ranch.
He and his wife plan to move there next year, but he says he's going to make the most out of his last year at Gulf Coast.
As a longtime educator, administrator and supporter of state and community colleges, Dr. Jim Kerley has worked in higher education for more than 30 years, 25 as a college president.
He announced his plans to retire Monday, during Gulf Coast State College's annual "Welcome Back" meeting.
The announcement shocked everyone.
President Dr. Jim Kerley says, "They say you blew me away today, I'm shocked that you're leaving, but you know my response to them? This college will keep moving forward."
Dr. Kerley says he's been considering retirement for the past few years but when his parents left him the family ranch, he and his wife Donna decided the time had arrived.
Donna says, "It felt not like we were visiting. It's a home. Not like what we have here, which is a beautiful home, but it had a character. And we just kind of felt oh maybe it's time for us to be there more."
Dr. Kerley adds, "It's been a great time but we know deep in our hearts, this is the right time. It's the right time to sort of write the next chapter. And that's what we're doing."
Dr. Kerley's last day at Gulf Coast State will be July 31, 2014, before he and Donna will move to Tennessee to start the next chapter of their lives.
He may be leaving Gulf Coast behind, but Dr. Kerley says he will continue to stay active as an educator through public speaking and writing.
Dr. Kerley says his biggest goal this next year will be trying to get money to build a new STEM facility.
Governor Rick Scott vetoed that funding this summer.