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Verde Valley Forum for Public Affairs President Dick Dahl was ready to announce the 2016 Educational Forum a success by 4 p.m, Saturday, Sept. 10.

“It’s been really awesome,” Dahl said, apologizing for summing up the event in such a manner but standing by the sentiment. He praised participants for staying out the course of the entire nine-hour day and the evening prior, engaging with approximately 90 of their peers in order to address the topic, “The Role of Post-Secondary Education in the Future of the Verde Valley Region.”


A variety of stakeholders were present, representing area district and charter schools, Yavapai College, Northern Arizona University, the Yavapai-Apache Nation, for-profit and nonprofit organizations and private residents — notably including a group of 16 local high school student leaders. The forum was held at the Cliff Castle Casino Hotel
conference center.

“We were very pleased to have this fine group,” Steve King, chairman of the forum, said. “We assembled good thinkers to analyze the realities of our region and its communities, and reach consensus on what can be done to meet our future post-secondary needs.”

A report of the forum will soon be available via the VVFPA website, but preliminary results published during  the forum indicated that participants agreed on the following general statements about post-secondary education in the Verde Valley:

  • “More should be done to improve educational opportunities and to make existing opportunities known to all residents.”
  • “The region need to attract more jobs, and better paying jobs. The region needs more faculty suited to train and educate students for these needs.”
  • “There should be a collaboration among the regional economic development organizations, such as the Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization, Yavapai College, the Cottonwood Economic Development Council and the Northern Arizona Council of Governments.”
  • “Institutions outside the Verde Valley are already successful in providing online education programs .... Verde Valley educational institutions could learn from them in designing their own programs to be successful providers of online education.”
  • “To optimize access and equity, Yavapai College should move toward greater decentralization of its programs throughout the county.”

Dahl praised Yavapai College for sending many top administrators to the forum, including President Penny Wills, Vice President of Instruction and Student Development Ron Liss, Athletics Division Dean Scott Farnsworth, Verde Valley Campus Dean James Perey, Verde Valley Campus Assistant Dean Barb Waak and Community Education Director Dennis Garvey.

“They haven’t been intimidated to speak out even when saying where they’re falling short,” Dahl said.

Bill Regner, vice chairman of Yavapai College Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee, and Darla DeVille, Northwest Arizona Community Affairs Manager for Arizona Public Service Electric Company — a sponsor company of the forum — likewise praised the broad spectrum of “educational specialists” gathered to approach the topic.

“It’s always interesting, coming to a consensus,” Regner said.

“We are pleased to announce that in early October, with Northern Arizona University sponsorship, a series of outreach programs will be held in communities throughout the Verde Valley Region,” Dahl added.

For more details, visit vvforum.org, which according to Dahl will soon be updated with the final 2016 forum report.

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