Top Man at Preston College standing down

Preston College’s esteemed principal is retiring after four years at the helm.

Staff at the college are being informed today that this will be Willie Mills last academic year at the Fulwood-based institution.

When he started at the college, which now proudly boasts an outreach centre at Recycling Lives Centre Preston; it was laden with debt, faced serious industrial problems and had a poor rating from Ofsted.

Mr Mills, who has raised standards dramatically and straightened up the finances, said in a statement to staff: “My retirement will mark the end of a career in which I have been privileged to work with some fantastic people who have helped me on my personal journey and inspired me by their commitment to realising the vision of further education.

“Nowhere has this been truer than at Preston College, where colleagues demonstrate on a daily basis the care and support our students need and deserve as they make their way in life.

“Over the coming months I will continue to work with you to ensure that the progress we have made over recent years is maintained and that we remain on track to be recognised as a truly outstanding college.”

He has worked full time in colleges for 33 years, 18 as principal of three colleges.

His first post as principal was at Northumberland. He then went to City College Manchester, which he transformed into the largest further education business in the country, before moving to Preston in March 2007.

The college’s governors will immediately begin the process of recruiting a successor to Mr Mills, who says the successful candidate will take over the reins of a financially stable college with outstanding staff and students.

Recycling Lives Chairman and Founder Steven Jackson said: “This is a sad day for Preston College and Recycling Lives who have developed a very close working relationship over the last two years. Mr Mills and his team have been instrumental in helping Recycling Lives to offer more educational and training opportunities.

“We wish Mr Mills a happy and fulfilled retirement.”