story by Jamie Smith
BENTONVILLE — A new era will begin at NorthWest Arkansas Community College under the leadership of Evelyn Jorgenson, the NWACC Board of Trustees unanimously decided Monday night (Nov. 12).
The board also discussed a vote on board leadership for 2013, but opted to table that issue for a later time. They did made several major decisions regarding the National Child Protection Training Center.
The board voted to negotiate a contract with Jorgenson to be the college’s third president starting July 1. President Becky Paneitz announced earlier this year that she would retire at the end of her contract after serving the college 10 years.
Jorgenson was chosen from a long list of candidates that was narrowed to four in October. Those final four met with board members and NWACC community stakeholders last week and the board has met several times in executive session to discuss each person’s qualifications.
“All the finalists were excellent,” said Board Member Randy Lawson, who spearheaded the Presidential Search Committee.
Lawson continued to say that Jorgenson was chosen because the board was impressed with her experience and expertise in numerous areas.
“She’s all that we need at NWACC today,” Lawson said.
Alex Vasquez, Chairman of the NWACC Board of Trustees said he was confident that Dr. Jorgenson is a great fit for the college and the community, and she will lead the college forward in exciting ways.
Jorgenson is the president of Moberly Area Community College in Moberly, Mo., where she has served for 16 years.
In her application paperwork, Jorgenson said her top four accomplishments at Moberly were:
• Development and expansion of off-campus sites in five area communities;
• Introduction of rigorous dual credit and duaI-enrollment programs in 30+ area high schools;
• Expansion of technology to include ITV, on-line courses, synchronous and asynchronous formats and hybrid courses; and,
• Two successful Higher Learning Commission 10-year PEAQ visits, both with no required reports or follow-up.
Jorgenson’s other higher education administrative experience includes serving as vice president, assistant to the president, administration/planning, and as director of personnel at Moberly Area Community College. She also served as director of Missouri Resource Center for Adult Basic Education.
Jorgenson holds a doctorate in higher and adult education from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in higher and adult education from the same institution. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College in Columbia, Mo., and an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo.
Jorgenson spoke about the new job from her home in Missouri on Monday night. She is married to Charles Jorgenson and they have two grown children.
“I’m very honored,” she said, adding that she considered it a privilege to work with everyone associated with the college from the board to the faculty and students. Jorgenson also said she “has a learning curve in front of me."
“Someone asked me during the forums what I would do in my first 60 days and my answer is that I’m going to listen to what people think is important. My job as president is to support the employees of the college and help the students of the college be successful,” she concluded.
In a unique twist of events, the board of trustees that hired Jorgenson will not be the same board under which she will serve. A new board will be seated in January with only three of the current nine members remaining. Jorgenson did not seem fazed by the circumstances and said that either way, she and the board would have to become better acquainted.
“We will work together and move forward,” she said.
Other finalists interviewed by the Board of Trustees were Dr. Jo Blondin, Chancellor of the Arkansas Tech University-Ozark campus; Dr. Anthony “Tony” Kinkel, President of Wichita Area Technical College in Wichita, Kan.; and Dr. Carol Spencer, Executive Director of the Academic Program Articulation Steering Committee in Arizona.
The board members also heard a report from Joan Clifford, who chaired the office nomination committee. The board could not vote to approve the recommendations because the bylaws state that the nominations are done during the January meeting. A change to those rules will need to be made to allow for the officers to be established for 2013 and that change is expected sometime in the next month.
If approved, the new board president will be Ric Clifford, vice president Joe Spivey and secretary Dan Shewmaker. Shewmaker’s election to the board is expected to be certified on Friday when the Benton County Election Commission finalizes the Nov. 6 results. The race between Scott Grigsby and Jim Parsons is still only a few votes apart, according to college officials. The final results of those races will not be known until absentee ballots are counted.
There are two board positions open that will require appointments from Gov. Mike Beebe.
MORE BOARD ACTION
In other board action, the trustees made two major decisions regarding the National Child Protection Training Center. The board voted to name the center the Melba Shewmaker Southern Region National Child Protection Training Center in honor of Shewmaker’s $1.3 million donation the center’s construction.
The board also approved that construction move forward on the center, which is being funded by the NWACC Foundation. The Foundation will be in charge of hiring the architect and contractor, subject to board approval.
“I applaud this day that we can finally move forward in intervening in these children’s lives,” board member Mike Shupe said.
In an unrelated action, the board also approved Arkansas state license plates in honor of the college. The college will receive a portion of the registration fee when someone orders the specialty license plates from the state.