Now what? Retiring president urges community, CNCC to work together
May 29, 2018
CRAIG — On what could be her last official visit to a campus built during her tenure, retiring Colorado Community College System President Nancy McCallin spent almost three hours on Tuesday addressing community concerns about the college under the leadership of Colorado Northwestern Community College President Ron Granger.
CNCC is one of 13 colleges in the state system. McCallin's tenure as president of that system will end with her retirement June 30.
Her visit to Craig fulfilled an offer made to the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board in a letter she sent in April to clarify the reporting structure of the college.
State laws narrowly define the MCAJCDB’s — the college district board — role in the collection and distribution of about $1.2 million in property taxes approved by Moffat County voters to support the college.
"I wanted to listen to all of you and give you some of our perspectives and talk with you in person," McCallin said at the end of a brief introduction, during which she highlighted some of the ways — including a $30 million investment in building the Craig Campus and annual contributions of $4.5 to $5.5. million dollars based on student enrollment — the college system has shown its commitment to Craig under her leadership.
In addition to that support, McCallin said placing the college on firm financial footing and in the first round of Colorado community colleges developing a bachelor of science in nursing program topped the list of Craig campus accomplishments she's most proud of after her 14-year tenure.
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During the past few months, the community has expressed frustration and concern with college leadership and lack of growth, apparent in the results of community-based focus groups organized by the college distrcit board about a month ago.
“We asked the ‘so?’ The community provided the ‘so what.’ The question to you is, ‘Now what?'” said board member Andy Daniels, in expressing his expectations for the meeting.
So what? Community concerns
McCallin's introduction was followed by each college district board member explaining his or her particular areas of concern.
"My biggest concern that I have been hearing a lot about is a lack of communication from upper management down to faculty and staff,” said board Chair Mike Anson. “… Craig campus hears things through the rumor mill rather than coming down from the top."
In response, Granger said he intends to create a monthly community networking opportunity modeled on a similar meeting in Rangely; hold regular meetings with Craig's young professionals, seniors and Spanish speaking community; and, in general, spend time "talking with the community more."
Concerns expressed by board members Zach Allen, Terry Carwile and Daniels centered around the vision for the college, performance indicators and timelines, program outcomes and lack of financial transparency, the last of which Allen said had undermined the college district board's ability to fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities to Moffat County taxpayers.
Yampa Valley Data Partners Executive Director Eldon Holland raised similar concerns. He used the meeting as an opportunity to release a report summarizing five deficiencies in financial practices that gave him reason to believe, "CNCC has engaged in deceit, deception and misrepresentation" of its finances.
McCallin who had just received a copy of the report and had not had time to read it, but noted that, during annual audits, CNCC "sailed through that with flying colors."
In addition to themes raised by others, board member Lois Wymore said, "We seem to start stuff and then stop stuff," noting stymied efforts to create on-campus student housing and agriculture, equine and drone programs.
Now what? Next steps
Joe Garcia — former lieutenant governor of Colorado, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education — will assume CCCS’s presidency in July.
Anson asked to have Tuesday’s discussion documented and shared with Garcia.
"We don't need to be sitting in this room having this same conversation 40 days from here," Anson said.
McCallin committed to working with Anson and the board in the next two weeks to reiterate Granger's commitments to deliver a final vision, mission and strategic plan for CNCC by July 1, improve communication with the community and provide financial reports for programs when asking the board for funding.
In an interview directly following the meeting, McCallin said, "I would say that I am confident in Ron, and we need to move forward together, because if it continues on, as it is, then the possibility of making meaningful progress becomes difficult. This community needs CNCC to thrive, and the college needs a partnership with the community and president to move forward."
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.