NPC Board discusses skills of new president

August 18, 2017 by Anonymous

“What are the essential skills, educational and work background you looking for in a new president?”

That was one of three key questions posed to members of the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board during a special teleconference meeting August 15 by John Hutchinson and Jesse Thompson with RH Perry, a North Carolina-based consulting firm, assisting with the search to replace retiring Northland Pioneer College President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout.

The two consultants will be at NPC’s Holbrook campus on Thursday, August 24, and at the Show Low campus on Friday, August 25, to meet with community members, NPC faculty, administrators, staff and the Presidential Search Committee. A schedule of their visits can be found online.

While a doctorate is preferred, the area of study and active teaching and administrative experience are also important, stressed Board member James Matteson. “Our new president needs to be someone who leads by example, promotes outstanding employee performance, has demonstrated sound financial management and has an understanding of the political process in dealing with municipal, county, tribal and state governments,” continued Matteson.

Other Board members echoed his response, with members Derrick Leslie, George Joe and Daniel Peaches emphasizing experience dealing with diverse Native American cultures and governments. “Diplomacy in dealing with other governments is a must,” said Joe. “Experience dealing directly with the state legislature and tribal agencies will be expected,” adds Leslie. Peaches, who has served on the board since 1985 and helped select five of NPC’s seven presidents, wants an “innovative person.”

“Having experience in a distance learning environment, one of NPC’s main delivery methods, is also important,” added Matteson. “Someone familiar with very rural, Western culture and enjoys the outdoors is also important.”

“And they also need to be able to walk on water,” quipped Swarthout.

The consultants also queried members on the challenges and opportunities facing the college. “The biggest near-term challenge is the fiscal impact of the closing of the Cholla (Power) Plant, followed by funding from the state legislature, growing student enrollment, expanding partnerships and our accreditation visit from the Higher Learning Commission in the fall of 2019,” stated Matteson. NPC is anticipating a $1.6 million reduction in property tax revenue as a result of the closing of the Cholla Plant. NPC receives nearly 40 percent of its revenue from property taxes, with state funding around 20 percent and tuition around 15 percent. Other sources, including grants, account for the balance.

Just the rural nature of the college district and providing services to tribal members, many of whom lack transportation, were also cited. “There are several high schools on the (Navajo) reservations where students have to leave the reservation if they want to continue their education,” explained Peaches.

Other challenges cited included expanding course offerings, especially at the three tribal centers, stabilizing enrollment in the police and fire academies, exploring offering four-year, bachelor’s degrees in specific areas of study, growing the technology infrastructure, re-purposing some facilities, growing the Winslow campus and stabilizing buildings on the Show Low campus.

“The Winslow campus is underutilized and could become an alternative to students from Flagstaff,” stated Board Chair Frank Lucero. Expanding distance education opportunities and partnerships are other areas for possible growth.

During the board’s regular monthly meeting that proceeded the teleconference with the consultants, members codified Arizona statutes regarding attendance of board members into NPC policy. Three consecutive unexcused absences, or missing half of the meetings in a year, will be grounds for the board to declare the seat vacant and request the county school superintendent appoint a replacement.

Intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) to provide dual enrollment college-level courses at Hopi Jr./Sr. High School, and with the Window Rock, Round Valley, St. Johns and Whiteriver school districts were also approved. Dual-enrollment programs allow students to complete general education college courses for both high school and college credit during the regular school day on the high school campus.

In reviewing the year-end financial report, Chief Business Officer Maderia Ellison noted that revenues came in over the budget estimate. Expenditures were only 85 percent of the budgeted amounts, due to multiple unfilled positions and the timing of several major capital improvement projects. Ellison noted the audited financial statements will differ from the statements shared today as they follow different accounting methods.

The first NPC Friends and Family Disc Golf Scholarship Tournament on August 12 included 19 pros and 17 amateurs, noted Betsyann Wilson, executive director of the nonprofit support organization. “Over half of the players were from Phoenix and Tucson, making this a true destination event. We drew high praise from the players, thanks to the sacrificial efforts of tournament director Steve “Snowflake” Johnson who made the trophies for the amateur winners and individualized tie-dyed shirts for all of the entrants,” Wilson continued. The event raised approximately $2,800 for scholarships to be awarded to NPC students who are veterans of the armed forces.

Subbing for consultant Eva Putzova, Mark Vest, vice president for Learning and Student Services, reported on a pilot project this summer on improving the assessment of student learning. Results of a “paper and pencil” survey limited the number of programs that could be reviewed annually. Switching to a computerized assessment survey, built into the Moodle online platform used by many instructors, appears to be a better tool for assessing student knowledge.

Working with Putzova, new templates are being developed for both annual student and five-year program assessment.

The Strategic Planning and Accreditation Steering Committee (SPASC) is hoping to roll out a pilot program to assist students with transportation needs, reported Vest. Based on the current housing assistance scholarship for students needing to temporarily relocate to complete a specialized degree program, a similar transportation scholarship would help students needing to travel to campuses for lab science and other courses required for their degree that are not available at center locations.

Vest also explained that by January administrators would no longer be nonvoting members of SPASC, instead serving as a resource when requested by the faculty and staff making up the majority of the panel.

President Swarthout discussed the key efforts for the state’s 10 community college districts in the upcoming legislative session. “Renewal of Proposition 301 funding, which is set to expire in 2020, is a must, along with restoring at least some line-item funding for the Maricopa and Pima districts,” stressed Swarthout.

The monthly Human Resources report included 32 new hires as the college begins the new academic year.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, September 19, 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 online at least 24 hours in advance.

– – – N P C – Expanding Minds • Transforming Lives – – –