Commentary: Improving college dynamic in Verde Valley a two-way street

In November 2015, the Yavapai College Governing Board made a pledge to work more closely with its Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee. Minutes from that meeting show Board Chair Patricia McCarver stating "that going forward, the Board has a responsibility and opportunity to provide direction for the VVBAC."

Further, Board Member Deb McCasland and VVBAC Chair Paul Chevalier urged "that the next step to address the VVBAC recommendations would be to conduct a Board Study Session to include the Board members, VVBAC members, Verde Valley Administration, and other key players to further develop strategies and actions specific to the VVBAC recommendations."

At the same meeting, the college board gave the Verde committee three specific questions to move forward with in the coming year to engage the community and provide dialogue to aid the board in furthering its strategic plan for overall college operations as well as those specific to the Verde Valley.

And, that's about it.

Outside of a monthly pat on the back and pep talk from board liaison Al Filardo, the Verde committee has received little to no direction from the college board, and the feedback to the board from the committee has been about as meaningful. As for the big pow wow between the college board, VVBAC and Verde Campus administrators, it never happened.

Which has left the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee operating much like a rudderless ship in the ocean of Yavapai College bureaucracy.

There needs to be a change in this dynamic, and it needs to be a two-way street.

The college board could show some good faith and schedule the meeting of the minds as envisioned by McCasland and Chevalier. The District Governing Board also should consider shaking up the dynamic of the VVBAC and inject some new blood into the organization. The current seven board members should not be appointees for life. District 3 Board Member Al Filardo has gone on record saying as much: "There are no term limits for the members of the VVBAC but at some point I will present the consideration of term limits to the DGB." There is no better time to get this accomplished than now, and it's obvious the VVBAC needs some new ideas, and new life.

For example, when the Cottonwood City Council members made their recommendations on who would represent the city on this committee, they looked within their own ranks and recommended Randy Garrison and Karen Pfeiffer. Garrison ultimately was selected. Now, he no longer serves on the Cottonwood City Council. Should he still be the city's representative, or is it time for some new blood?

As for the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee, they've played this game much like Reggie Jackson played professional baseball. "Mr. October" is best remembered for his powering home runs in the post season. What most people do not know about him is that he is also the all-time Major League leader for strikeouts, chalking up 2,597 in his 21-year career. The Verde Committee started out with a home run, presenting the college board with 16 recommendations. Since then, they've basically flopped at the one task given them, which was to engage the community and provide healthy Verde Valley dialogue on the three questions asked by the board.

Month after month, VVBAC agendas play like a broken record, with "possible advice to be given at the next board meeting." Always included is the "administrative college district" home run and other big hitters such as domicile requirements for the administrators who work at the Verde Campus. They had better think the latter through. Do VVBAC members Randy Garrison and Bill Regner really want to push this issue, when there are no similar policies for the city/town councils on which they formerly (Garrison) and currently (Regner) serve? In Cottonwood's case, according to City Manager Doug Bartosh, of the city's 16 department heads, only about half live in the city limits. In Clarkdale, only two of the six (including the town manager) department heads live in the town limits. Even closer to home, Regner's wife, Janet, is the Coconino County community services director, but she resides in Clarkdale, in Yavapai County. (Editor's Note: Janet Regner has dual residency in Clarkdale and Flagstaff, and is heavily invested in the Flagstaff community where she works.)

Glass houses, gentlemen.

The VVBAC would be better served by hitting up a single every month. The committee collectively, or through board liaison Filardo, should request to be on the District Governing Board agenda every month. They should show up with a recommendation and a professional presentation on the advice they are offering.

The next month they should do the same, as well as ask for follow-up on the previous month's recommendation and request feedback on how well they are doing with the job given them. That will create some much-needed relationship between the VVBAC and the college board. It will establish rapport.

Most importantly, it will get some runners on base and set the stage for a home run down the road.

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