After 24 years of service to Northland Pioneer College students as the Kayenta Center manager and for the last 19 years overseeing the Financial Aid Office, Beaulah Bob-Pennypacker has retired to care for her ailing father.
The Navajo County Community College District Governing Board recognized her service to the college during their regular meeting June 19 in Holbrook by awarding her administrator emeritus status. As an NPC student, she was a federal work-study before becoming the Kayenta Center Manager in 1994. In 1996 she moved to Holbrook to serve as a financial aid specialist. Then in 2006, she took on the duties of overseeing the awarding of nearly $3 million in federal Pell grants annually to NPC students.
Her commitment to students drew praise from Chief Business Officer Maderia Ellison. “There are a number of lives she has touched over the years. And without her encouragement, her care, her holding hands at time, some of these students would not have succeeded,” added Ellison.
Bob-Pennypacker has always enjoyed learning, “even through the audit process,” she explained with a smile. “Under Beaulah’s supervision, NPC has never had any problems meeting the ever-changing federal compliance rules,” noted Mark Vest, vice president for Learning and Student Services and incoming college president.
Her co-workers thanked her for being a “wonderful team leader” and “being compassionate.”
Later in the meeting, Vest briefed the board on plans to use an interim consultant to supervise and make recommendations on how to improve the processing of financial aid applications. “We will conduct a national search for a director after the peak time for processing applications,” explained Vest.
In action items, the six-year term for Chair Frank Lucero, who represents District 3, will be expiring at the end of 2018. A resolution calling for an election, in conjunction with the November 6 general election, was ratified by the board. Nominating petitions for the seat will be available from the Navajo County Elections Department in early July.
The board also adopted the academic calendar for 2020-21. “The calendar is approved two years in advance to allow for advance planning by the college and its JTED (joint technology educational districts) and K-12 partners,” noted Vest.
A $170,000 grant from Navajo Nation Regional Council of First Things First was accepted by the board. Under the grant, up to 60 early childhood professionals on the Navajo Nation will receive training in infant/toddler mental health and social-emotional development. This grant replaces an expiring Navajo Nation FTF grant that has provided similar professional development training in the region.
Also approved was a $156,206 three-year service level contract to provide equipment and maintenance of the college’s microwave towers and radios with JTS, based in Dallas Texas. The firm installed the latest upgrades to the towers and is already familiar with the college’s unique network and the region’s typography and weather patterns.
With Vest’s advancement to the college presidency, there were two vacancies on the Northeastern Arizona Training Center (NATC) board. Peggy Belknap, NPC’s dean of Career and Technical Education, will now chair the panel, with David Huish, NPC’s director of Transportation and Facilities, and Rickey Jackson, interim vice president for Learning and Student Services, rounding out the voting board membership. NPC oversees operation of the emergency services training facility in Taylor, with advisory input from regional law enforcement and fire chiefs, Navajo County and the Town of Taylor.
A renewable one-year contract with Stuart Bishop to provide emergency management and safety consulting was also approved. Bishop, who previously had been the college’s emergency services director, will work with staff members on emergency procedures, training and safety concerns.
Business department chair Jennifer Bishop demonstrated the online Moodle learning management system, now a part of every NPC course. Moodle makes course content accessible anywhere, even on a smart phone. Bishop highlighted the built-in ability to communicate with students; how discussion boards provide interaction among students; and the instant feedback students receive on responses to assignments.
“Every course must meet national Quality Matters standards for online learning,” Bishop explained. “These standards evaluate the content and the readiness levels of the course and instructor. How the instructor plans to response and interact with students is a key component of the approval process.”
Vest cited a more than 1300 percent increase in student log-ins over the past two years as instructors added all courses to Moodle. There has been a marked increase in course completion and student satisfaction which may indirectly be related to the use of the learning management system.
Ellison also reviewed the college’s financial ratios used by the Higher Learning Commission, the college’s accrediting agency, to determine financial health. With no long-term debt since 2008, NPC’s Composite Financial Indicator (CFI) is well above the benchmark levels on all of the ratios. “The CFI measures the overall financial health of the institution based on the sufficiency and flexibility of resources, the management of debt, the performance of assets and the results of operations,” noted Ellison.
Jackson presented an overview of the general education, early childhood studies and film & digital video program reviews. He noted there has been an increase in enrollment in general education courses, such as math, English, arts, humanities and social and behavioral sciences. The College Bound scholarship is being utilized by more high school students who attend classes after their regular school day. The TALON Project, which is bringing NPC courses into rural high schools, also contributed to the increase.
The Early Childhood program has completely revamped its curriculum to provide better pathways to either employment or additional university studies. The program is now rebuilding enrollment, with the Navajo Nation First Things First and other grants providing more opportunities for students.
Enrollment in the Film & Digital Video program has been limited with only three high schools feeding into the college’s program. This fall, the program will be offered in Holbrook to provide easier access for students on the north end of the county.
Retiring President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout presented an overview of the information being gathered for its accreditation review to demonstrate how college resources are being used to fulfill its mission. While there is an abundance of data available, Swarthout, herself a peer reviewer for HLC, is recommending development of a master technology plan tied to the college’s mission and codification of human resources procedures.
Involving students in the college’s governance has been an on-going challenge, she noted, with experienced leaders graduating. Improving continuity will be a major goal before the HLC visit in November 2019.
The newly-hired institutional effectiveness director will be able to compile the available data to show how the college measures its performance, improves its effectiveness, and establishes benchmarks for sustaining its mission.
“Since 2014, we have been able to award over $150,000 in scholarships to students,” Betsyann Wilson, executive director of NPC Friends & Family, told the board in her monthly report. The nonprofit organization’s board has adjusted its strategic plan to ensure the sustainability of scholarships through wise investment of resources and working with partners, such as Summit Healthcare who again awarded five $1,000 scholarships to nursing students.
Wilson also encouraged signing up for the Scholarship Disc Golf Tournament on Saturday, August 11, at the Four Seasons course in Snowflake. Additional information and registration links can be found at www.npc.edu/DiscGolf.
The board renewed dual enrollment agreements with Red Mesa, Snowflake and St. Johns high schools, allowing students to earn college credit for courses taught at the school by qualified instructors. The partnership agreements were also renewed for operation of the Northeastern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy (NALETA) with the police departments of Eagar, Holbrook, Pinetop/Lakeside, Show Low, Snowflake/Taylor, Springerville, St. Johns, and Winslow, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
Vest reported the Strategic Planning and Accreditation team is developing priority-based enrollment management operational plans. One of those plans includes increasing the college’s visibility in our communities. Residents will soon notice several brightly wrapped NPC fleet vehicles, displaying the college’s “Transform Your Life” slogan and how to contact the college.
Another element is getting more community members utilizing NPC facilities, for meetings or attending college-sponsored events. If your group or organization would like to be involved, call your local campus or center and speak to the facility manager.
The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, August 21, at 10 a.m. in the Tiponi Community Center on the Holbrook – Painted Desert Campus, 2251 E. Navajo Blvd. Copies of the agenda will be posted online, at least 24 hours in advance.
– – – N P C – Expanding Minds • Transforming Lives – – –