County News

“I think the Verde Valley is getting shafted,” Yavapai College District Governing Board member Deb McCasland said of the announcement to hire Kelly Trainor as the new associate dean of Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus.

The announcement of Trainor’s promotion came during the Yavapai College District Governing Board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Prescott campus. According to a press release, the hiring of Trainor — a 10-year Yavapai College faculty employee with a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Arizona State University — occurred “after a national search.”

Trainor, a Prescott resident, will assume his post Monday, Jan. 4. The two top administrative positions at the Verde Valley campus will now be  held by people residing outside of the Verde Valley — Verde Valley Campus Dean James Perey lives in Chino Valley, north of Prescott, despite taking the position in 2012.

McCasland and board member Al Filardo oversee Yavapai College Districts 2 and 3, comprising the Verde Valley and Sedona, respectively. Both responded to questions about the hire of yet another Verde Valley administrator who does not live in the Verde Valley.

“The problem with the governance system of the college is that the board has no authority over the president,” McCasland said. “We approve the budgets and then it’s like a blank check. We have no input on potential hires …. There’s no specific reporting by project at all. Even though I’ve asked for that information, there’s no response.”

McCasland said that she shared the public’s concerns over hiring an associate dean who does not live in the Verde Valley, and questioned how Trainor could adequately represent Verde Valley students without being a part of the community in which those students reside.

Moreover, McCasland called into question the rationale of choosing Trainor over other candidates.

“Yes, I do think there were qualified people in the Verde Valley,” McCasland said, adding, “I’m going to keep fighting for the Verde Valley as much as I can …. We can’t give up. It’s too important to our taxpayers.”

Filardo responded to questions via email:

Q: Why are Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus’ top administrators from Prescott?

Filardo: “Let me start by saying I am not speaking for the governing board; I am not the board’s spokesperson. Now for some background information, under Arizona’s Revised Statutes relating to community colleges, Arizona Revised Statues §15-1444(A)(6), (7) and (8), employment obligations are covered to make clear the board’s responsibility when it comes to appointing/hiring college employees. For example, the board must ‘appoint a president, deans, faculty and any other employees it deems necessary.’

“However, before my appointment to the Governing Board, the governing board of Yavapai College voted to delegate this responsibility to the administration/president with the exception of hiring for the president’s position. Agree with it or not, that was approved by the board prior to my term as the board member
from District 3.

“To open a dialog with my fellow board members and the administration, I have requested this matter be placed on the agenda for the January governing board meeting. Specifically, I’m interested in knowing more details about the selection process with a purpose of promoting additional collaboration and transparency between the college and its owners relative to hiring practices.”

Q: Are there no qualified individuals for the position in the Verde Valley?

Filardo: “I cannot answer your question, given that the board was not involved in the hiring process. To get you the most accurate answer, the most knowledgeable person to respond to this question is the president.”

The NEWS also inquired as to why the college would not “expect an administrator to relocate to the area he or she would represent,” but Filardo declined to comment.

Trainor did not respond to query by press time. Yavapai College President Penny Wills responded by email Dec. 14, stating that she would “be glad to chat” but she has not stated when she would be available nor when she would next be in Sedona or the Verde Valley.


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