Seems like no one wants to serve on the Gila Community College board. That’s amazing, considering it’s one of the most important governing board jobs open at the moment.
Gila Community College remains vital to the future of Rim Country — and every one of our kids. That’s especially true right this moment — with the college in transition and plans to finally build a four-year university here at a critical juncture.
Of course, it’s a hard, thankless job — demanding long hours, vision, diplomacy and insight — all for no pay at all.
But consider the challenges — and the need:
• After years of heroic effort, advocates for GCC convinced the Legislature to change state law to finally make it possible for the provisional college district to end its expensive dependence on Eastern Arizona College for its credential. Now, GCC must undertake the long and potentially expensive process of gaining its own credential and gaining control of its own destiny.
• After years of dysfunction, the divisions between north and south that have long bedeviled the board have eased. For the first time in years, board members share a fragile consensus and a renewed willingness to work together.
• In the next two years, a creative and visionary community college board can become a full partner with the advocates for the effort to build a four-year university here. The university might even build a first phase on land adjacent to GCC, dovetailing perfectly with the community college’s general education and vocational classes. Close cooperation between GCC and the university will give our students a chance to earn a four-year degree at the bargain price, without having to leave home.
• After the near-abandonment by the Legislature, community colleges have an urgent need for vigorous, creative leadership. These open-door institutions have long provided first-generation college students with the route to a better life as well as vocational programs vital to the local economy, like nursing, fire sciences and business.
• As the number of dual-enrolled high school students rises, GCC has a chance to play an ever-larger role in bolstering the offerings for college-bound high school students in subjects like math and science.
For all these reasons, we hope someone will bless this community by providing that vital connection between the high schools, the vocational training needs of businesses and the proposed university.