Originally Published: May 9, 2011 10 p.m.
PRESCOTT - On Friday and Monday, Yavapai College staff, faculty and community members in Prescott and the Verde Valley had the opportunity to listen to and ask questions of the three finalists for the college's president position.
Two candidates - Luke Robins and Anne Temte - were on the campuses Friday, while the remaining candidate, Penelope "Penny" Wills, visited Monday.
College Executive Assistant Marilyn Yetter, who has served as the search liaison, reported that the Governing Board interviewed the finalists after the open forums.
She stated that the board would meet in executive session this morning to discuss the three candidates. The board may direct college officials to make an offer and begin contract negotiations with the finalist they select.
Yetter indicated that the board would probably call a special meeting later this week or next week to announce the new president and finalize the contract.
Robins told those attending his open forum that having lived in Wyoming, "I have a history in the West. I love the West."
He said that he told himself, if he was to move, he wanted to go to a place that "is a winner; somewhere I could continue that tradition. I hear good things about Yavapai College."
For Temte and Wills, Yavapai College's reputation is what attracted them. Neither of them applied for any other college presidency. According to Wills, YC needs to share what it is doing with other colleges.
All three candidates have doctorates, a variety of knowledge and experiences to bring to Yavapai College.
The Daily Courier asked each of the candidates why the board should select them. What sets them apart from the other candidates?
Robins said that a look at his résumé and background would show that he has never "done anything professionally but work at community colleges. I don't want to be any place else. Yavapai College is a successful community college; an innovative community college."
Robins noted that he is the first college graduate in his family.
"Community colleges are the great equalizer in the U.S. Students would be disenfranchised if not for community colleges," he noted. "I also bring a passion for what I do."
Temte stated that she has the knowledge and experience to lead YC. "As a person, you would get someone smart enough and with the confidence to see the importance of kindness," she said.
Temte indicated that she has the ability to connect with a rural community.
Wells indicated that she is an experienced college president with experience in a multi-campus system.
"I have a reputation of integrity and a commitment to values. I have been tested when it comes time to make tough decisions - either stand up and make them or ignore them. I have been tested in community relations and in economic development," she said.
With few exceptions, the majority of people attending the open forums were staff or faculty members at Yavapai College.
Dean of Lifelong Learning Dennis Garvey asked Robins what opportunities at YC got him excited.
"You have the programs in place to have a comprehensive community college," Robins replied.
When Garvey asked the same question to Temte, she replied that what really stood out is that people "perceive a community connection with the college."
On Monday afternoon, Garvey asked Wills why she thinks YC would be a good fit for her.
Wills mentioned the Lifelong Learning Program and how it "addresses the needs of retirees."
She added that YC supports arts and culture, in which she is interested. Wills also is impressed with the quality of programs.
"I am not a good maintainer. I want to make a difference. I would make changes not to fix anything, but to build on what is already in place," Wells stated.
Employee Stacy Hilton asked the candidates about their backgrounds with online learning.
Robins noted that he is a proponent of technology. He said that colleges should look at different ways to deliver education to students.
Temte said that at first, she was skeptical, but then she saw how much work teachers had to do to prepare for an online class. "I am encouraged by the possibilities," she said.
Wells stated she is "very respectful of faculty who teach online classes. It is a very self-disciplined way to take a class."
Brief though the forums were, those in attendance appreciated the process, as well as the opportunity to submit their impressions of the finalists to the Governing Board.
After the meeting with Robins, staff member Pat Jackson said she was impressed. "He seems personable, understands the district's mission and has a lot of experience," she said.
Career and Technical Education Center Director John Morgan attended the forums because he is "concerned about the future of the college. We need someone to carry us through these difficult financial times."
Lisa Griest, director of library services, thought all of the candidates were good.
"The Governing Board has a difficult decision. I liked all three of them," she said.