Now that the election is history, I am writing this open letter to both my supporters and to my opponent, Don Crowley.
To my supporters, I want to thank you sincerely for your support and your courage. The positions I took with regard to the management of Gila Community College represented thinking outside the box -- a result of years of experience in higher education and executive management. I knew at the outset this would be an uphill battle and would take some guts and commitment. Not only do I thank you for your votes, but for those of you who donated time, effort and money. I thank you for your vision and your ability to see and understand my point of view.
To Don Crowley, I congratulate you for your winning election. You mounted an aggressive campaign. Your experience on the Board of Governors was obvious and your message was focused and clear. One thing we agree upon is that northern Gila County needs effective representation, especially in view of what many perceive to be an imbalance on the board.
That being said, I openly offer you the following input and admonishments. You can do with them what you wish and in six years, history will judge the quality of your accomplishments:
1. Your argument that northern Gila County has 85 percent of the tax base while the Payson Campus receives 30 percent of the college budget is factually correct. However, it has no logical basis in your claim of unfairness. The tax base is a measure of property values and bears no relevance to how the college budget is allocated. A better comparison would have been to use the population numbers. As you know, the population here is 60 percent of the county. What is even more interesting to note is that the Payson campus has 31 percent of the enrollment and receives 30 percent of the budget. Looking at it that way, one must ask is there really a disparity?
2. You have consistently focused your efforts on that budget issue. I can tell you, however, that in management, budgets are only a necessary tool. They do not define performance. Bottom line results define performance. To lead effectively, you will have to focus on those results. As board members, you and Dr. Stephenson must use your collective voice to define what those results must be and then communicate those objectives to Eastern Arizona College as our expectations. The budget will be their problem and they will simply be challenged with delivering the results.
3. What should the objectives be? The Payson Campus should have two. One is to offer all the necessary courses so that a high school graduate may spend two years taking general education courses and then transfer those to the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University or Arizona State University, entering the university as a second semester sophomore at a minimum. The second objective must be that the Payson campus must be prepared to offer a comprehensive list of vocational courses completely aligned with the future growth objectives and job needs of the community. That way, the college and the community will be joined at the hip.
4. You must adopt a more teamwork and collegial approach to leadership. Thus far, you have expended too much effort pointing a finger of blame at Eastern and your counterparts to the south. Such behavior by a board member alienates and only causes more divisiveness. That does not work in a community that has had enough adversity. A more partnering approach will reap far better dividends for our community.
5. Please stop disparaging the college staff. They are working hard. You and Dr. Stephenson would do much better if you pitched in with the staff to achieve the objectives as I outlined above instead of threatening them with things like complaints to the Attorney General. That is completely inappropriate and counter-productive. Remember: Teamwork.
In any case, Don, Please accept my best wishes for your success and that of Gila Community College. No matter what, the students must always come first.