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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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1/24/2014 6:00:00 AM
Yavapai College board member resigns over master plan concerns
Robert Oliphant
Robert Oliphant
Patrick Whitehurst
The Daily Courier

Yavapai College District Governing Board Member Robert Oliphant resigned from his seat Tuesday, citing frustration over the college's newly adopted 10-year plan as a reason for his abrupt departure.

Oliphant was the only board member to vote against the college's new master plan when it was approved in December.

The plan calls for a number of changes in the Verde Valley near Cottonwood and Sedona, the area Oliphant represents. Those changes include the closure of the digital film school at the Sedona site of Yavapai College and the relocation of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).

Other changes in the Verde Valley include finishing the Southwest Wine Center, moving the equine and agriculture program from Chino Valley to the Verde Valley, and building on the school's partnership with high schools in the area. The nursing program located there might also move to Prescott Valley.

Oliphant's seat is currently open, but replacement candidates from the Verde Valley area will be sought through the Yavapai County Superintendent's Office. The position is expected to be filled by the end of February, according to Yavapai College officials.

Oliphant said he joined the board to be a strong voice for the Verde Valley district. But after a year and half, he became disillusioned.

"I concluded after the December vote on the $100 million development funding that all the work I was putting into it was pretty hopeless," Oliphant said. "Ninety-nine percent of development funding over the next 10 years is going specifically to the west side of the county in Prescott and Prescott Valley."

In the Prescott area, the master plan recommends expansion of the existing parking areas; the creation of a university center and a student activity space; construction of a 200- to 300-seat lecture hall; construction of a multi-purpose field, and more. In Prescott Valley, the plan calls for selling two existing facilities and replacing them with one large center, as well as the creation of a Center of Excellence for nursing and allied health.

Oliphant said he'd hoped to see greater development in the Verde Valley. "It became clear that wasn't going to work out," he said. "I felt that there was nothing I could do, no matter how hard I worked on this project. In my judgment it was impossible for me to do what needed to be done for the folks over here. I'm hoping the next person would have a much better chance of doing that."

Governing Board Chairman Ray Sigafoos said in a recent statement that he enjoyed working with Oliphant over the past year. "He injected ideas into our discussions that we might otherwise not have considered. Bob brought a different point of view that was useful to the decision-making process," Sigafoos said.

Meanwhile, implementation of the plan continues, said Clint Ewell, vice president of finance and administrative services for Yavapai College. Since December's approval, college officials have met with staff members to look at the plan, particularly the timing and logistics related to certain projects, Ewell said.

"We're going to make a couple of recommendations about changing the order of a few of the projects," he said. "As part of that, we will be making recommendations on how to finance this first phase of the project."

Those projects, he added, will be announced at the next district board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 4. A list of brick-and-mortar capital improvement projects should be included in that announcement.

"The Smith Group developed the plan, but we know ourselves a little better as far as what will have the most impact in allowing us to grow and allowing our students to succeed. We wanted to make sure those got done first," Ewell said.



Follow Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier


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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Article comment by: Well Done!

Voting with your feet is under-appreciated.

If you're in a position of responsibility and are shutdown as regards representing your people or geography - why stay the course? It's a waste of time and money.

I would love to see more public officials put values ahead of pride, money or station.

Kudos Mr. Oliphant! I admire your courage and integrity.


Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Article comment by: TO JUST SAYING ??

You are the problem. The county superintendent has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE. You must be a bagger.

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Article comment by: Snobbery Gets You No Where

What a great representative for the people from the Verde Valley - a QUITTER. I guess no one vetted him properly. Quit and go home - what a statement!

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Article comment by: Just Saying

Maybe the problem is the in - effectiveness of the Yavapai County Superintendent of schools. What does this guy do for our tax dollars anyway?



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