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NWACC selects 6 semifinalists for top job

BENTONVILLE – The presidential search committee for NorthWest Arkansas Community College has chosen six semifinalists for the position of NWACC President.

The semifinalists and their current or most recent titles and organizations are shown below in alphabetical order:

Dr. Jo Alice Blondin 
Chancellor at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus

Dr. Steven Gates
Senior Vice President for Learning and Provost at NWACC

Dr. Cindy Hess
President at Forest Park campus at St. Louis Community College, MO

Dr. Evelyn Jorgenson
President at Moberly Area Community College, MO

Dr. Anthony Kinkle
President at Wichita Area Technical College

Dr. Carol Spencer
Executive Director at Academic Program Articulation Steering Committee, AZ

The board of trustees has been working with the Association of Community College Trustees to conduct a national search for the position. A total of 30 applications were received, and the Presidential Search Committee met on Thursday (Oct. 5) to review each candidate’s materials before choosing the six semifinalists.

“The presidential search committee was extremely impressed with the high caliber of applicants in the search for this position,” said Randy Lawson, who serves as chairman of the committee and is a board member. “We were extremely pleased with the quality, breadth and depth of the applicant pool. Our candidates revealed a wide range of leadership skills and academic and business experience.”

The search committee, consisting of various college stakeholders including faculty, staff, students, donors, and community members from throughout northwest Arkansas, is tentatively scheduled to meet October 17-18 to interview semifinalists. Three to five unranked finalists are expected to be chosen from among the semifinalist pool and forwarded to the board of trustees who will determine the top finalists who will then be interviewed in November.

The successful applicant will become only the third president in the college’s 23-year history. Dr. Bob Burns was the college’s first president after its founding in 1989, and he served from 1990-2002, building a solid foundation for the college.

Dr. Becky Paneitz, NWACC president since 2003, announced in April that she will retire from the post in June 2013 after 10 years of service to the college, its students, faculty, staff, and its surrounding communities.

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Credit enrollment at the time Paneitz became president was 4,915, and credit enrollment today is at 8,418. Another 6,000 students, including adult education, are enrolled in non-credit programs offered by the college. As a result, thousands of students have experienced life-changing education. In May 2012, NWACC graduated more than 1,100 students.

That growth has come with some pain as the college faces a budget shortfall of $1.6 million, tax penalties for late payments and in recent years a high turnover rate among the administrative staff serving under Paneitz.

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