BRAC, McClure among concerns for CCC future

By Tonya Garner

The appointment of Clovis Community College President Beverlee McClure as the state’s secretary of higher education last week clouded the short-term future of the school, officials said.

But there’s a potentially bigger storm cloud hovering on the horizon — the fate of Cannon Air Force Base. The Department of Defense is expected to release its revised base closure list as earlier as Aug. 22 and CCC regents said future plans are on hold until then. Cannon was recommended for closure in May and local officials — including McClure — have worked hard to save the base ever since.

“If Cannon closes, it will definitely affect who applies,” third-year CCC Regent Russell Muffley said. “We obviously aren’t going to get many energetic, forward moving applicants.”

The closure of Cannon would cause the college to lose 25 percent of its funding, according to Muffley.

“We would totally have to take a new look at where the college is going in the next few years,” Muffley said. “It would affect everything from courses offered to administration.”

Regent Robert Lydick said the board plans to appoint an interim president in mid-September, when McClure is scheduled to start with the state

“The board hasn’t any idea who will succeed McClure,” Lydick said. “The college will continue making progress though.”

McClure, who has been president of Clovis Community College since 1999, said CCC Executive Vice President Becky Rowley is an obvious choice as her successor.

“She has strong leadership skills that would be able to take the college forward,” McClure said Thursday after being named to the state position. “But that’s absolutely the board of trustee’s decision.”

Muffley said he is unsure as to whether or not an interim president will be appointed.

The CCC board will meet Wednesday to discuss options, Muffley said.

Rowley could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Muffley said the two-year school with an enrollment of approximately 4,000 a semester will continue to try and expand its nursing and radiology programs.

He would also like to see the college’s Center for Student Success continue to grow and thinks recruiting and keeping minority students should be a priority.

CCC was awarded $650,000 this year by the state Legislature toward a medical education center. With a nationwide nursing shortage, McClure felt the center would serve an obvious need.

“I think it absolutely is more imperative,” McClure said. “Not only is our nursing shortage nationwide, but if you look in the rural area, it’s very tough to recruit Healthcare professionals.”

She said one program to be implemented will focus on health care. She suggested students could become certified to work at the hospital — thereby filling shortages in health care — and simultaneously continue in their education.

In May, the board of trustees voted to increase tuition by 6.7 percent.