WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) President Dr. Meghan Hughes will step down later this year.

Hughes, who became CCRI’s first female president back in 2016, announced Thursday that she will officially resign Aug. 31.

“Serving as CCRI’s president has been the greatest professional honor of my lifetime,” Hughes said in a statement. “I believe the time is right to transition the college to new presidential leadership by summer’s end as CCRI is strong and continuing to grow ever stronger.”

Under Hughes’ leadership, CCRI has achieved the highest graduation rates in more than two decades, outpacing national two-and three-year graduation rates.

Hughes fiercely advocated for the creation of the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship, which offers free college tuition to qualifying high schoolers. Since the program first launched in 2017, CCRI said there has been a significant increase in enrollment, especially among low income students and students of color.

Throughout her tenure, Hughes also bolstered CCRI’s government and industry partnerships, which have allowed students to receive the training needed to compete in today’s economy and provided a pipeline of qualified employees for local businesses.

Gov. Dan McKee said Hughes has been “a bold, visionary leader at CCRI.”

“From making community college more accessible, to increasing graduation rates and working together to create innovative job training partnerships in key sectors like offshore wind, Hughes has been a true partner on our team and a key part of our administration’s work to strengthen our state’s higher education ecosystem,” McKee said.

Hughes also helped create CCRI’s first-ever Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Organizational Development, and had a hand in reforming how the college attracts, hires and retains a diverse talent of faculty and staff.

The R.I. Council on Postsecondary Education expects to announce plans for an interim president by April 19.

“Dr. Hughes has been a relentless champion of CCRI and it showed in everything she did as president,” Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Postsecondary Education Shannon Gilkey said. “Immediately, the council will begin the process to fill the vacancy at the college’s helm and will seek candidates with high caliber academic and institutional management experience who will prepare Rhode Islanders with high quality degrees and certifications required to be successful in the modern economy.”