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Richard C. Creal, former president of Prairie State College, dies at 86

Richard C. Creal, former president of Prairie State College, dies at 86 [11/23/2016]

Richard C. Creal, who served as president of Prairie State College (PSC) from 1975 to 1985, passed away on Oct. 22, 2016, at the age of 86.

Creal was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Mich., and went through the Ann Arbor public school system, graduating from Ann Arbor High School in 1948. He attended the University of Michigan, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in school administration and a doctorate in higher education administration.

He served in the Ann Arbor public schools for 10 years as a teacher, and five years as an assistant superintendent. He then became vice president for instructional services at Lake Michigan Community College in Benton Harbor, Mich. Before coming to PSC, Creal had been instrumental in the founding of Washtenaw County Community College in his hometown. He also served several years on the Board of Trustees there.

Upon accepting the role of president of PSC, Creal set two primary goals. First was financial stability and second was more student and faculty participation in the operation of the college.

“I was hired to make decisions concerning the college, to recommend organizational and personnel improvements and to make sure those who are responsible fulfill their obligations,” Creal had said.

The then chair of the PSC Board of Trustees, Patrick Parisi, said of Creal’s appointment, “He was well connected in community college affairs, nationally and locally…. Dr. Creal was the bridge that said that this is an institution. It can stand up on its own feet. It has a separate identity. It has a purpose…”

Under Creal’s leadership, the college opened the new, main campus building in September 1975, and enrollment increased significantly, with night time enrollment increasing by 52 percent, part-time students increasing by 41 percent and full-time students increasing 35.3 percent. The administration also was restructured, and efforts to develop community relations began in earnest. Due to increased enrollment and rapidly-expanding occupational and technical programs, in 1978 the college began building the then vocational/technical building as an addition to the main campus (now known as the Tech Wing). The new wing included a welding lab, heating and air conditioning lab, sheet-metal working lab, three classrooms, and another large undesignated lab space. Creal also oversaw an expansion of the college’s parking lot construction to accommodate the large enrollment increase.

During Creal’s tenure, throughout the late 1970’s and 1980’s, the college continued its commitment as a community college to offer transfer and occupational/technical programs. He resigned from PSC in 1985 to become executive director of the National College and University Personnel Association in Washington D.C. and then retired to Florida in 1996.

“The college has been able to build upon the foundations that Mr. Creal laid during his presidency,” said PSC’s current president, Dr. Terri L. Winfree. “He led the college during a time of significant changes in society and education, and his contributions continue to be felt on campus today,” she added.

Creal was a member of many organizations, the Lions and Rotary Clubs, the Elks Club, the Ann Arbor Town Club, Zeta Psi fraternity, and various other professional organizations, including the Ann Arbor Teachers' Club, and the Michigan Education Association Region 3.

Creal is survived by his wife, Barbara, two sons and their wives, four grandchildren, one great-grandchild, his brother and his family, and several cousins and their families.

Donations in memory of Richard Creal may be mailed to the Prairie State College Foundation at 202 S. Halsted St. in Chicago Heights, Ill 60401, or made to Washtenaw Community College Foundation in Ann Arbor, Mich.