The retired Navy vice admiral who presided over a turnaround at the College of DuPage during the most tumultuous time in the school's history will leave at the end of December to become president of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Ann Rondeau, 67, accepted the official request from the Secretary of the Navy to serve effective January 2019.
"I am deeply humbled that I assume this extraordinary honor and privilege of continued leadership service," Rondeau said in a statement released Wednesday.
"I have so much respect, affection and affinity for our College of DuPage community and our District 502 residents," she said. "We are a remarkable place and we have remarkable people working with dedication in the honorable and diligent mission of teaching and learning."
Rondeau was formally introduced in California on Wednesday during a campuswide meeting with faculty, staff members and students.
The university is a graduate school for U.S. military officers and Department of Defense civilian employees and military officers from other nations.
Meanwhile, the COD board of trustees is working on a succession plan. Appointment of an interim president will be discussed at the board's Oct. 18 meeting, officials said, and the interim president will begin work Jan. 1.
COD board Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi said Rondeau has provided "a tremendous amount of leadership during her tenure at the College of DuPage."
"Every day she has honored the goodness of what we do for our students and the community at the College of DuPage," Mazzochi said. "We are saddened that she will leave the College of DuPage at the end of the year but understand that her duty to the Navy and country she loves so well must come first and we support her in that mission."
Rondeau became the sixth president in the history of the college -- and the first woman to hold the post -- when she was appointed in May 2016 in the wake of the firing of former President Robert Breuder.
She officially took the reins at the state's largest community college on July 1 of that year at a time when the Higher Learning Commission had threatened the school's accreditation by placing it on two years' probation and COD's faculty union had taken a historic "no confidence" vote in her predecessor.
Rondeau almost immediately helped bring order to an institution that had fallen into chaos under intense scrutiny for a litany of controversies.
She quickly became a familiar face around campus, regularly meeting with students and working to rebuild trust with the faculty.
Most notably, she successfully led efforts to persuade the accreditation agency to lift its probation last November after a grueling process to address concerns with the college's governance, spending practices, ethics policies and dysfunction on its elected board of trustees.
Rondeau was selected for the job over two other finalists: Elgin Community College President David Sam and Barbara Kavalier, district president of Navarro College in Texas. But only four of the seven members on what was then a sharply divided board supported her appointment. Her hiring brought to an end a monthslong nationwide search to replace Breuder, who was fired in October 2015.
Rondeau retired from the Navy as a three-star admiral in 2012 after becoming only the second woman to achieve the rank. She then served as a partner and later an independent consultant with the IBM Watson Group.
In some ways, her military training made her ideally suited to replace Breuder, whose firing is still the subject of an ongoing lawsuit.
In 2001, Rondeau was appointed to lead the Great Lakes Naval Station from a period of scandal after the previous commander was stripped of his duties for violating Navy ethics rules and misusing funds.
"It was the third time I had relieved somebody who was fired," Rondeau said at a forum as one of the three finalists for the COD post in 2016. "It was the third time I had been asked by the Navy to help lead an organization out from everything that was going wrong to something that was going right."
• Daily Herald staff writer Katlyn Smith contributed to this report.