In response to the frequent question, “What are you going to do?” retiring Yavapai College Vice President Dr. Ron Liss reveals one sure thing: “I’m going to sleep in and not worry about an alarm clock.”

With just weeks left of an illustrious career in higher education, Liss is still framing his future as a retiree. As someone who is most relaxed while doing, he’s seriously considering some DIY home improvements and getting creative with copper. A Northwest river cruise is also on the list of possible newfound free time pursuits, as are jewelry making for the bola-tie fan, more exploratory hiking and volunteer work, possibly revolving around his love for animals.

“I have a list of possibilities, but I’m not committed to any of it yet,” said Liss, explaining that besides sleeping in, his only priority is stepping out more with his wife of 44 years, Anita, his daughter, Liane, granddaughters, Phoebe and Maia, and his beloved 120-pound mutt, Dundee. “I think about how he (Dundee) is going to behave when I don’t leave every morning,” he said.

Liss is wrapping up a decades-long education career with a strong sense of accomplishment and pride. Citing his leadership roles at six colleges, the colleagues he has mentored and the students he has nurtured, Liss said he is retiring with no regrets. He is lamenting diminished personal and professional engagement.

“To me, it’s all about the people – employees and students -- and the change in them that others may not see. I helped that change come about. That’s what education is all about.”

Liss beamed with pride recalling former colleagues he helped evolve into leadership roles and students he helped direct into dream careers. “I’ve been able to do that in many organizations,” he said.

Liss recalls, early in his career, tearing up when a former student with personal challenges saw him in public, tapped him on the shoulder, and proclaimed, “My name is Ben Wells and I’m an electronics technician.” Liss was teaching electronics technology at the time. “That made it real,” he said. Making a difference in a student’s life underscores the value of education and keeps you in the game, Liss said. “There are so many stories of a teacher or faculty member turned to, and many people can name them, that made a difference to an individual.”

Adding to the rewards inherent in education, Liss said, is the fact that at Yavapai College you can point to students transformed by education and call them by name. Elsewhere, “students are thought about too often as numbers and not as individuals.”

The same people who motivated and inspired Liss throughout his career are those who he is certain he will miss most in retirement. “It’s not the day-to-day work, it’s the people I will miss working with and seeing regularly. The group of vice presidents I have been fortunate to work with have been wonderful,” he said.

Before his last day arrives in January, Liss said he is endeavoring to ensure a successful transition for his successor, Dr. Diane Ryan. He hopes also to have paved the way for others in the organization to continue pursuing innovation and advancements on behalf of students.

“I planted some seeds for things to happen. I hope they continue to grow. If they don’t, they weren’t that important,” he said. “What I care about is that the things that do happen benefit the students in some way."