Yavapai College presidential candidates outline their vision

Michael Calvert, Lisa Rhine and Linda Elliott-Nelson

Michael Calvert, Lisa Rhine and Linda Elliott-Nelson

CLARKDALE – Yavapai College’s District Governing Board will select Penny Wills’ replacement as college president soon as early as Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, the college’s governing board spent more than two hours interviewing each of the three finalists in executive session – and breaking bread with them – before a collective review of the candidates.

Tuesday at both the Clarkdale and Prescott campuses, the college hosted the three finalists for a meet-and-greet with members of the public.

The three candidates, Michael Calvert, Lisa Rhine and Linda Elliott-Nelson, essentially told the public why they would be the best choice to replace Wills, who will retire from the college on Dec. 31.

Each of the three candidates started their session with a 15-minute talk about their vision for Yavapai College. Then, the candidates spent about 25 minutes answering questions from the public.

For Calvert, president of Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas, “community feedback” is important to me.

“I believe ‘community’ is our middle name,”

Rhine, provost and chief operating officer of the Chesapeake campus of Tidewater Community College in Virginia, spoke of the need to “make sure we’re connecting students to their basic needs so their educational needs can be met.”

“Yavapai College will be the institution of instructional excellence,” Rhine said.

With family in the Verde Valley, Elliott-Nelson said that the college’s focus should be the “entire county.”

“The vast majority of jobs in the U.S. are with small businesses,” said Elliott-Nelson, vice president for learning services at Arizona Western College in Yuma. “This is where the future will lead us.”

The forums were live streamed and recorded, the links can be seen at the Yavapai College website, https://www.yc.edu.

Michael Calvert

On academic versus financial needs:

“We have to work in the best interests of the college, students and stakeholders.”

On educational needs of future generations:

“Technology. We have to stay abreast of that. Lifelong learning is huge, and not just for retired folks. Staying in tune of the trends.”

On talking with Verde Valley’s citizen advocates:

“We’re going to have to work together. You have to use data. What also matters is what we value. Transparent, using data, sharing information.”

Why are you interested in coming to Yavapai College?

“I’ve spent 30-plus years in Kansas. I’m ready for a change, ready for us to move.”

Lisa Rhine

On academic versus financial needs:

“I place academics at the core. It’s what we’re here to do. We have to preserve the academic mission.”

On educational needs of future generations:

“We need to change based on the generations that come. We have to be adaptable and flexible enough, while focused on the mission.”

On talking with Verde Valley’s citizen advocates:

“I will sit down with you and try to hear the real message, sit down and try to figure out what 20 years out looks at to the Verde. I would be remiss if I didn’t.”

Why are you interested in coming to Yavapai College?

“There’s a lot of bureaucracy in Virginia, as close as we are to Washington D.C. It’s getting to a point where there’s not a lot of room for real innovation, doing things differently. I’m excited about this opportunity.”

Linda Elliott-Nelson

Vision for Yavapai College:

“Growing together, growing local. Yavapai College should be in the forefront of that. We should be able to provide jobs and learning so people don’t have to leave here.”

On educational needs of future generations:

“We want to be good stewards of public money.”

On talking with Verde Valley’s citizen advocates:

“I want the best for the Verde Valley. I want to hear what the concerns are and what we could do to reach consensus here in the Verde Valley.”

Why are you interested in coming to Yavapai College?

“This is the only college I’m applying to. I’m very happy in Yuma. Yavapai is a very strong college. I want Yavapai to go into the future in a positive way. If not, I’d stay in Yuma.”

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