Connie Harris seeks District 3 seat on Yavapai College Board
• Age: 65 years old
• Years in Arizona: Since 1960
• Years in the Verde Valley: 2 and a half years
• Professional (and military) history: I taught high school students English and reading for 10 years; four years as a high school assistant principal, 12 years as a principal, and eight years as a director and associate superintendent for educational services. After this, I transitioned to Arizona State University as a Clinical Assistant Professor in 2010 where I taught leadership in the masters and doctoral programs. Then I became the Arizona State Director for AdvancED/NCA, a national and international accrediting agency for educational organizations before retiring last summer.
• Education: Phoenix College for two years and then B.A., M.A. and Ed. D. from Arizona State University, and another M.A. from Northern Arizona University
• Elective and Advisory Experience: Arizona School Administrators Association, National Association of Secondary Principals, Arizona Interscholastic Association and NCACASI/AdvancED in this state. I served in leadership roles on each of these Boards/Councils over two decades
• Civic Affiliations: Service through faith-based volunteerism and mentoring support for cancer patients
Question 1: How would you characterize the operations of Yavapai College in Sedona and the Verde Valley? What are the district’s strengths and what are its most noticeable weaknesses?
Harris: Yavapai College’s strengths encompass over five decades of student successes and are too numerous to list here. However, the state of the art culinary program at the Sedona Center is one of the finest in the state. The Southwest Wine Center is already an award-winning winery of which the community can be proud. The history is rich and the focus on the future is to increase the strengths in pursuit of even higher levels of excellence. There is always room for improvement and to that end, a noticeable area to address is that of providing financial parity in allocation of resources as well as avoiding raising property taxes. There is a need to strengthen the presence of YC in the Verde Valley/Sedona through programs, further investment in CTE and other measures including communication.
I would characterize an area of focus for the new president and the Governing Board as the perception of operations is not as positive as it could be.
Question 2: Yavapai College is in the process of hiring a new president. What do you consider the most important qualities and qualifications for the Yavapai College president to possess?
Harris: Beyond the academic qualifications, being a listener and excellent communicator, as well as being committed to the mission of YC as an inclusive community college are important qualities in ensuring quality student learning opportunities.
Leadership matters. Thus, being a visionary leader who inspires and implements the needed changes, which keep the college relevant and competitive is also important.
To lead in management of resources in ensuring fiscal stability and fair and proportionate allocations is important.
In addition, to lead in the development and implementation of career and technical education programs which meet the workforce needs for the communities on the east and west sides of the county is needed. Being able to build partnerships with P-16 education, business and industry and other organizations is essential.
Lastly, the President Selection Committee has gathered and posted a president profile on the YC website which has an extensive list of qualities gathered from the community, which are helpful in seeing what the college is seeking.
Question 3: What is your present/past involvement/participation with Yavapai College and how does that experience best qualify you to serve the Yavapai College Board?
Harris: My present participation with Yavapai College is as a member of the Governing Board. I applied for the posted vacancy and was selected, January 2017, through a screening and interview process. My past participation with Yavapai College was in my role as a principal and associate superintendent as our district in the north Phoenix area had students matriculate to Yavapai College.
As a Governing Board Member I have immersed myself in reading, researching, listening and learning as much about the college as possible. I have availed myself to professional development opportunities to learn about governance and policies. I attended every board meeting and visited/toured/observed at each of the college’s six sites. I am a contributor to the Foundation in support of raising scholarship money. With active participation the past 20 months, my experience base is solid. I am highly qualified to continue to be a member of this college’s Governing Board.