By Jack Mayne

At the Des Moines Council meeting Thursday (Nov. 30), Mayor Matt Pina honored outgoing Highline College President Jack Bermingham, 68, who is retiring next week after 22 years heading the school.

“When he first started, it was HIghline Community College,” the mayor said. His first job at the school was in 1994 as academic vice president until 2006 when he became president. Bermingham is the sixth president in Highline’s 55 year history.

“His commitment to serve all students effectively has led to a national and regional recommendation for him personally and for Highline College in a number of areas,” said Pina. The president has “strengthened collaborations with business, industry, K-12 education, baccalaureate institutions and community based organizations resulting in successful partnerships and expanded economic development effort.

Pina said he has enjoyed working with Bermingham over the years and is please such an institution is in the city.

Former mayor and retiring Councilmember Dave Kaplan said that the relationship with the institution was “rough and tumble” for years but since Bermingham, the city and college have been working collaboratively, making the college a focal point in the community.

“There is a vibrancy at the college that honestly did not exist there a long time ago but for your efforts and your committment to making sure that happened both among the students and among the faculty. The city is better for it, the relationship between the college and city is stronger,” said Kaplan.

“It is about a partnership making thing happen to the benefit of the college, to the benefit of Des Moines,” Kaplan said.

Pina resented Bermingham with a city pin and a certificate of thanks.

Bermingham said he worked particularly hard with Kaplan and with other city leaders to put the momentum of the college and the city in the right direction.

“I want to thank the city for its efforts to reach out and make that happen,” he said, noting also the help with growth of the school and its increasing number of international students.

“I appreciate the work that we’ve been able to do to bring the city and the college into a more collaborative environment and help is both be successful,” Bermingham said.

The Council also approved the appointment of Marcus Williams to the Des Moines Arts Commission.