End Of Eac Era Is A New Beginning


Eastern Arizona College is reading, writing, arithmetic ... and history.

Yesterday, the words "Eastern Arizona" were removed from the big sign at the entrance to the Payson campus, marking the end of a 34-year relationship between Gila County and EAC.

It's a complicated issue that has Rim country residents confused and concerned, but like most issues it comes down to money. Because Gila County is not large enough by state standards to have its own community college district, we have to contract with another district. From the beginning, that has been Graham County.

One of the problems with the arrangement is that Gila County has had to subsidize its students at a non-resident rate. There were other issues as well, including whether EAC was providing the Rim country with the programs we really need like nursing and food service but money, as it often does, appears to have carried the day.

Fortunately, Barbara Ganz and her staff have been retained and are already at work finding a district to replace Graham County. The three leading candidates are Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties.

In November, Gila County voters will be asked to approve a provisional college district which we are entitled to form under state law. While we will still have to contract with another full-fledged community college district, as a provisional district we would no longer have to pay non-residential tuition.

It will seem strange changing the name of the Payson campus. EAC has been part of the fabric of our community for a long time.

But the people who made this decision are excited about the possibilities. Ganz and her staff are viewing this as an opportunity to create a new Payson campus, better attuned to the unique needs of Rim country residents.

And of immediate importance, Ganz believes it can all be accomplished in time for the fall semester.

We wish EAC well, but as Gila County Administrator Steve Besich said after the supervisors voted Monday to sever ties with EAC, "It's time for a new beginning."

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