SEDONA - Tuesday, Yavapai College President Dr. Penny Wills announced that Executive Dean Dr. James Perey will now serve as Executive Dean/Campus Executive Officer for the Verde Valley and Director of University/Governmental Relations for the college district.
Wednesday, Dr. Perey's first order of business as the college's official Verde Valley advocate was to meet with the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee (VVBAC) - and to discuss the committee's 16 recommendations for the college's strategic plan.
After his one-hour presentation, Dr. Perey was not half-way finished with the list. So the advisory committee asked Dr. Perey to return, to finish his presentation at its Aug. 10 meeting.
Until then, the advisory committee can celebrate what member Steve King says was a successful meeting.
"Dean Perey's presentation was on point, outstanding," says King, who represents Camp Verde. "His contributions are always moving things forward. He understands the community and he's always looking for opportunities to move the conversation forward. He's doing a great service for the Valley."
Said Wills in a statement, Dr. Perey "will retain the responsibility of being a strong advocate for the Verde Valley. He will also be advising me of community interests, needs, and concerns as well as state and federal level political matters and legislation."
Last year, the advisory committee submitted an 11-page report of strategic planning recommendations to the Yavapai College District Governing Board, followed by a summary of the report's 16 recommendations. Wednesday, Dr. Perey responded to concerns that the Verde Valley's educational needs have not been prioritized by the college.
"The college is moving forward on a number of initiatives to benefit the Verde Valley," Dr. Perey says. "The focus is on the students, the opportunities. We can accomplish great things together."
"We want to make sure you have the resources you need to create and sustain these programs to make them work," advisory committee Vice Chairman Bill Regner told Dr. Perey. "We want to be your best friend to make sure that happens."
Dr. Perey admitted to the advisory committee that finances are always "one of those touchy" things to discuss.
"Strategic plan resources should follow the plan," he says. "A lot of analysis goes into this."
Dr. Perey spoke of the subsidization of Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes, Pell grants, and the "due diligence to make programs as sustainable as possible." And in an efficient manner.
"Efficiency is one of those pesky words," says Regner. "Like pegs to a stool. Access, sustainability, efficiency, we do what we need to do."
Sustainability through housing?
According to advisory committee member Randy Garrison, the college may want to consider providing housing "as a way of sustaining some of these programs in the future, either building on the existing campus - or lease or buy some long-term housing in one of those communities."
But Dr. Perey admits that providing affordable lodging for the Verde Valley's students "hasn't been a focus" of the college.
"You need about 300 beds to make a housing unit viable, or efficient, to pay for itself," Dr. Perey says. "Students are not coming from Phoenix or Mojave to take [general education] classes here."
When a college offers what Dr. Perey calls "destination programs," that is when out-of-area students are attracted.
"I believe we have an affordable housing issue in the Verde Valley across the board," Dr. Perey says. "Though it is not in the plan now, my focus would be on adding sustainable programs to pull people from out of the area."
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42 and on Facebook at @CampVerdeBugle
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