Finalists for NPC Presidency

December 20, 2017 by Anonymous

And then there were seven.

The pool of candidates to become Northland Pioneer College’s eighth president has been narrowed from 33 applicants to seven semi-finalists. The Navajo County Community College District Governing Board was updated on the process by Jason Foutz, the college’s chief operating officer and liaison with the consulting firm guiding the search, during the board’s regular monthly meeting, December 19.

Current NPC President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout previously announced plans to retire in June 2018. She has served as the seventh president since May 2007, after serving as the college’s Dean of Liberal Arts and Vice President of Instruction/Learning since 2001.

The Presidential Search Committee, consisting of community leaders and college staff, will be utilizing the college’s distance learning technology to interview the semi-finalists, January 11 and 12. The top three or four candidates will then be invited to visit the college in early February to tour facilities and meet with local leaders, college staff and governing board members. A meet-and-greet schedule and biographies of the finalists will be posted at www.npc.edu/presidential_search. A new president could be named at the board’s February 20 regular meeting, based on the timeline prepared by consultants R.H. Perry.

In action items, the board approved the assumptions that will be used to develop next fiscal year’s budget. Those assumptions include maximizing the property tax levy and providing employee benefits to keep NPC competitive in the hiring process. The board had previously adopted a three-year tuition plan, setting the per credit hour rate at $74 for 2018-19 and $77 for 2019-20.

Many of the factors impacting the budget, such as county property valuations, state operating and equalization revenue and employee benefit costs, will be determined later in the process.

A revised agreement with the employee benefit trust was also approved. The trust provides health and dental insurance benefits to public employees. Expanding its membership to include educational, governmental and fire districts in efforts to reduce costs for both employees and tax-supported agencies required a change of name and makeup on the board of trustees. The NPC board appointed Foutz as the college’s representative on that trustee board.

Ann Hess, director of Marketing, presented the results of a recent media survey of 23 percent of the student body. Some of the biggest changes from the last survey in 2012 showed smartphone ownership had increased from 51 to 92 percent and that texting and Facebook are now the best way to provide information to students.

Connections to the college’s website from mobile devices have tripled since 2012 to over 102,000. The site is currently being reformatted to be “mobile-friendly,” with a relaunch anticipated in the spring of 2018.

“There is no magic bullet to reach current and prospective students,” stressed Hess. “Due to the rural nature of the college, we need to continue using multiple methods to communicate, but texting and social media are playing a bigger role.”

Property tax revenue is still running slightly below previous years as the county continues to catch up on processing tax payments, noted Maderia Ellison, the college’s chief business officer, during her monthly review of the college’s financial situation. Expenditures for salaries and operating expenses are below budget in part due to unfilled vacancies. Spending on capital projects is slightly ahead of previous years because of the timing on several major technology upgrades.

The board also reviewed proposed changes in Information Technology procedures to improve controls on access to college information and the costs related to NPC’s operation of the Northeastern Arizona Training Center (NATC) in Taylor. NATC provides dedicated classroom and training facilities for NPC’s fire science and law enforcement academies, as well as regional emergency services agencies.

The Pres Winslow Memorial Scholarship fund, administered by NPC Friends & Family, has received several substantial donations that will allow endowment of the scholarship in honor of Winslow, a member of the NPC Governing Board who passed away in June, 2016. A donated Charlene Laughing Navajo Rug sold at auction for $6,000 and another generous donation from the Smart Family Foundation is expected before the end of the year, Betsyann Wilson, executive director of the nonprofit alliance, told the board.

NPC Friends and Family has also awarded the Val 153 Memorial Scholarship, with the recipient to be announced soon.

Faculty Association President Pat Lopez described how faculty members are involved in committee work and her personal involvement on the Instructional Council. Charged with doing curriculum review and maintaining academic standards, IC and its Academic Standards Subcommittee have revised the placement process, now using high school grade-point average instead of a national standardized test to determine readiness for college-level courses. An Academic Probation policy, measuring satisfactory academic progress will go into effect in the fall 2018 semester.

Lopez also discussed how NPC was responding to the national trend of guided pathways, helping students make better course choices while keeping them focused on a specific degree outcome. The conversation included the role of industry advisory groups and the college’s state-mandated mission to “serve all” regardless of whether they are prepared mentally and academically for college-level work. Lopez noted that some faculty want to ensure that guided pathways does not mean eliminating the opportunity for students to explore their options while in college.

Student Government Association President Cuitlahuac “Cuity” Aguilar outlined some of the activities completed during the fall semester and plans for events in the spring. “There are 15 active members in SGA, with the leadership made up of some of the top students, including four of the 12 All-Arizona Academic Team members,” noted Aguilar. Events planned for the spring include the 10th annual Talent Contest, university road trips, and EagleFest on the Show Low campus. There will also be scholarships to study Spanish in Costa Rica during the summer, for involvement in SGA, and a possible new scholarship, similar to the Friends & Family Leg-Up Grant, for a student ineligible for Pell funding.

Aguilar encourages all students to get involved and invites them to SGA meetings in the Video 1 classrooms, 2 to 3:30, on the first and third Fridays during the semester.

Prior to the regular meeting, board members conducted a self-evaluation on their effectiveness as a governing body. While several weaknesses were noted, the overall assessment was positive, with additional training needed for new members to “bring us up to speed” on programs and processes.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, January 16, 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. A study session is planned after the meeting to review questions and processes for interviewing the finalists for the college presidency.

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