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2:23 AM Thu, Sept. 20th

Yavapai College board selects Wills as next president

Courtesy photo<br>
During an open forum Monday afternoon, Penny Wills, right, said “community colleges make a difference every day. I can feel the pulse here, the contact Yavapai College has with the community.”

Courtesy photo<br> During an open forum Monday afternoon, Penny Wills, right, said “community colleges make a difference every day. I can feel the pulse here, the contact Yavapai College has with the community.”

The search is over for a new Yavapai College president.

The Yavapai College District Governing Board Tuesday afternoon selected Penelope "Penny" Wills to lead the college.

After discussing the three presidential finalists in executive session Tuesday morning, the board announced during the regular session its plan to offer a presidential contract to Wills.

The board also authorized board President Dale Fitzer to begin contract negotiations.

Board member Patricia McCarver, who served as the search committee chairperson, noted that while the board was deliberating its choice, "I looked out the window and it was hailing, then raining and then snowing. As soon as we made our decision, the sun came out. I took that as a sign we had made the right decision."

YC student Marley Slaughter, a member of the Student Leadership Council, served on the presidential search committee. "We had a lot of great candidates," Slaughter said. "It was difficult because we were not going into this wanting to replace someone."

However, Slaughter indicated that Wills was her first choice.

"She was at the top, not because of her application, but because of her interview," Slaughter said.

During an open forum Monday afternoon, Wills said "community colleges make a difference every day. I can feel the pulse here, the contact Yavapai College has with the community."

Wills believes she and the college will be a good fit.

Slaughter agreed. "I think she will do great things. I am very excited to see what she will do here at YC. I think she will be a great fit with the administration."

Wills is currently the president of Northeast Iowa Community College. Before taking the job in 2004, she was vice president for student development at Georgia Highlands College.

She holds a doctorate in higher education from Michigan State University, a Master of Science in counseling from Miami University in Ohio, and a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Cincinnati. Wills serves on the board of directors of the Greater Dubuque Development Co.

Her accomplishments at NICC include the creation of a college senate; NICC's new Quality Council (which directly ties to the college's strategic plan through assessment and accountability); the formation of Iowa's first Regional Academy for Math and Science; and generation of new revenue streams through development of the college's first advancement office. The college received a super-majority approval by voters for a $35 million capital bond levy in late 2007.

McCarver said she is "very excited about the board's selection. Penny has a nice, engaging personality. She has the ability to build teamwork and collaboration. She is ready to take Yavapai College to the next step."

If all goes well, McCarver said that Wills would be on campus by the end of July.

Jim Horton, whose retirement as YC president set the president search in motion, remarked that the college is "in for a big transition, but I am happy the search was successful."

Horton will remain on campus until Wills arrives in Prescott.