Volunteers from throughout Navajo County are being recruited by the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board to serve on the search committee for the next president for Northland Pioneer College.
The board officially launched the presidential search during their March 21 regular monthly meeting in Holbrook, adopting a tentative timeline and requesting designated search process funding in the upcoming year’s budget. Current President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout plans to retire in June 2018.
“We want the search committee to reflect the diversity of the students and communities NPC serves, with representatives from tribal, governmental, business and educational partners, plus NPC students, faculty and staff,” notes Frank Lucero, chair of the NPC Governing Board. The search team will recommend candidates to the five-member elected board by early 2018.
The board has pre-selected some members of the search committee based on their important partnerships with the college. The final makeup of the committee will be determined by the board following a review of applications.
Volunteers should submit a letter of interest outlining their view of NPC’s role in providing educational opportunities, a brief career overview, and how long you have lived in Navajo County. Applications should be submitted by May 1 to the NPC President’s Office, P.O. Box 610, Holbrook, AZ 86025.
As members reviewed the preliminary budget analysis, several expressed concerns about the college’s ability to maintain services at or near current levels with the looming closure of the Cholla generating station and related support enterprises. The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) is forecasting a $1.6 million revenue reduction to NPC when APS decides to close the Cholla plant.
“Some of that loss may be recovered through additional state equalization aid, as a result of the drastic reductions in property valuations,” noted Swarthout. However, there is no guarantee state funds will be available. “Staff will be bringing plans to the governing board on running the college more efficiently, tightening our belts even more, in order to maintain services,” she continued.
NPC is anticipating approximately $500,000 more in total net revenues in the upcoming year, but expect future revenues to decrease. Although the state budget is not final, NPC is projecting state equalization aid to increase approximately $591,000 to compensate for lower than state-average property valuations and will help offset other projected decreases. The 2017 Property Tax Levy shows over $10 million in new construction valuations which is largely due to the Cholla plant not removing any additional assets from their tax rolls and will increase revenues for the upcoming year. The amount they removed last year resulted in a negative new construction figure of over $24 million and reduced revenues.
As part of the budgeting process, the board approved a three-year in-state tuition plan, which calls for increases of $2 per year the first two years, then $3 the final year. For 2017-18, NPC’s tuition rate of $72 per credit hour will remain the lowest of the 10 community college districts, reflecting the income levels within the county.
The board also approved a 1.5 percent salary increase for eligible contract employees and adjunct faculty. NPC employees did not receive a salary increase last year. Instead they received a one-time stipend and NPC paid the employee portion of health and dental insurance costs. For the coming year, NPC will continue to pay all or nearly all of the medical insurance costs for its contracted employees. Those who choose the higher-cost PPO medical plan, will be paying a small portion for their coverage. Optional dental and vision plans are available to employees at their cost.
Contracts for five deferred maintenance projects were also approved. On the Holbrook campus, the Tiponi Community Center roof will be replaced and the interior will be remodeled to create an additional conference meeting space and other areas will be repainted. The planters in the entrances to the Tawa Center will be re-configured, with one featuring a metal golden eagle sculpture created by former welding instructor Bob Van Pelt’s students during the 1976-77 school year. The sculpture previously was in the quad on the Hermosa Drive campus. A skylight canopy will also be installed on the Nizhoni Learning Center.
The parking areas around the maintenance and shipping and receiving facility in downtown Holbrook will also be paved. The science labs in the Ponderosa Center on the Show Low campus will also be remodeled, to provide a more functional work space and safer study environment.
Curriculum modifications to the Associate of Arts in Early Childhood (AAEC), Human Services (HUS) Computer Information Systems (CIS) programs were approved, including the addition of a new Cybersecurity specialization within the CIS area.
“Philanthropy, or literally loving mankind, is one of the main reasons I give to education during Arizona Gives Day,” explains Betsyann Wilson, executive director of NPC Friends and Family, during her monthly report. She outlined her other reasons and urged others to consider making a tax-deductible donation on Tuesday, April 4. Last year, NPC Friends and Family finished fourth in the state in donations, receiving an extra $5,000 from Gives Day corporate sponsors.
“Donations before noon that day will be matched by Summit Healthcare, up to $5,000,” notes Wilson. “You can also pre-schedule your donation now on the secure AZ Gives Day website, www.azgives.org/npcfriendsfamily. Your donations have helped over 80 students complete their education at NPC.”
Vice President Mark Vest explained the progress the Strategic Planning and Accreditation Committee was making on an enrollment management plan and the assurance argument for the fall 2019 accreditation visit by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). An early view of NPC’s quality initiative project – Proactive Assessment for Student Success (PASS) – drew praise from the HLC. One commissioner noted, “Others will be coming to NPC to learn how best to improve student success.”
“NPC has a sterling reputation with the HLC,” notes Swarthout. “Accreditation is not an easy process. The HLC looks very closely at the governing board’s engagement and proper role in the governing process. It is critical to maintain our relationship with the HLC, particularly in these times of budget challenges.”
Swarthout will be detailing the HLC’s five accreditation criterion, and the board’s governance role at future meetings.
As part of the reorganization of the college’s executive leadership team, Maderia Ellison, who previously was the Director of Financial Services and interim Vice President for Administrative Services, is now the Associate Vice President/Chief Business Officer.
Jason Foutz, a native of Holbrook, left an assistant administrator’s position in Oakdale, Minnesota to become NPC’s new Associate Vice President/Chief Operations Officer. He attended Eastern Arizona College, graduated from Utah Valley University and earned his Master’s and Juris Doctorate from Hamline University. “It’s good to be back home and out of the snowbelt,” remarked Foutz.
The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, April 18, beginning at 10 a.m., in the Tiponi Community Center on the Holbrook – Painted Desert Campus, 2251 E. Navajo Blvd. Copies of the agenda are posted at least 24 hours in advance at www.npc.edu/about-npc/public-notices/dgb-meeting-agendaminutesrecordings.
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