CMC interviews for dean

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Bob Spuhler, president of the Colorado Mountain College system, is looking for a simple quality in a new dean for the college's Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs.

"Somebody who can walk on water," Spuhler said this week before listing more serious qualifications.

"Someone who can provide good leadership on campus and run things smoothly, and also someone who can identify with the community and its educational needs," he said.

In interviews on campus Thursday and Friday, college faculty, staff and a selection committee met with six finalists seeking to fill the vacancy left by former dean Bob Ritschel, who resigned in July to become president of Spoon River College in Canton, Ill.

Former Campus Dean John Vickery, who retired in January 2000, is the Alpine Campus' interim dean.

College staff decided not to hire any of three finalists identified for the position in late September.

"We just didn't think any of (those candidates) fit," Spuhler said.

Prospects look better for the second batch of finalists.

"I feel confident that we'll be able to come up with a consensus this time around," Spuhler said. "It's a very experienced group -- the resumes look good."

As leader of the campus, the dean's duties include governance of facilities, curriculum decisions and personnel issues.

"It's the same thing as being a college president, but on a smaller scale," Spuhler said.

Spuhler will make the final decision on a new dean after reviewing recommendations from the selection committee, faculty and staff members.

"If everything goes the way I would love it to go, I'm hoping we can make an offer (to a candidate) by the middle or end of next week," Spuhler said, adding that he definitely wants to get an offer out before the holidays.

The selection committee includes John Marrin, dean of the college's Timberline Campus in Leadville; Donna Howell, superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District; Kathy Kaiser-Miller, faculty senate president for the CMC system; Mark McCabe, dean of student services; and Darrell Yarrow, distance education coordinator for the CMC system.

They have a challenging task in front of them.

All six candidates have doctorate degrees, significant experience in educational administration and colorful backgrounds.

"It's quite a diverse group," said Denise Roach, administrative assistant to the dean at the Alpine Campus.

Following is a brief look at each of the finalists, in alphabetical order.

In the house

Marsha Arzy has been the acting campus dean since August at CMC's Summit Campus, which has facilities in Dillon and Breckenridge.

She has a doctorate degree in community college leadership from Colorado State University and has directed the Business and Careers department at the Summit Campus.

Arzy grew up in Wyoming and taught business and technology at Sheridan College in Sheridan, Wyo., and Casper College in Casper, Wyo. She said Steamboat Springs reminds her of her childhood home.

"There is a lot of diversity of economics and a lot of diversity in careers," said Arzy, a cross-country skier and snowmobiler.

Arzy said that during her time at the Summit Campus, she has worked to increase enrollment, analyze underserved populations in the local community and add classes in early childhood education and technology.

Many of those classes involve internships at local businesses, which Arzy said is a practice she would bring to Steamboat.

"We try to allow our students to have real-world experience as part of their academic experience," she said.

Serving justice

Daniel Campagna of Ocon--omowoc, Wis., has been director of the justice department at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee since September 2002.

Campagna, who could not be reached for comment while traveling Friday and spending time with family Saturday, has a doctorate degree in criminal justice and public law from the University of Georgia.

He previously has served as dean of the Educational Cultural Complex Campus in the San Diego Community College system and as chairman of the criminal justice department at Aurora University in Aurora, Ill.

Oklahoma roots

You can tell Larry Griffin appreciates regional culture just by hearing him talk.

The vice president of academic affairs at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., the Oklahoma-raised Griffin pronounces Missouri like most natives and only few out-of-staters can -- by saying "Missourah" in a relaxed drawl.

A former dean of arts and sciences and professor of English at Dyersburg State Community College in Dyersburg, Tenn., Griffin said Friday that he is impressed with Colorado Mountain College's dedication to a collaborative "learning college" teaching method that focuses on real-world experience.

"We have different concerns for students in the 21st century," he said. "The traditional, competitive (academic) environment doesn't serve students in quite the same way."

Griffin received a doctorate degree in English from the University of Oklahoma in 1989, and he said a move to Steamboat would continue his education.

"I'm a lifelong learner," he said. "I try to position myself so I'm going to have opportunities that are new for me."

A musical touch

Kerry Hart, dean of arts and humanities at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo., earned his doctorate in music and higher education administration from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

He previously served as campus dean and vice president of arts and enrichment at Mojave Community College in western Arizona.

"The similarities between Mojave and CMC are very close," Hart said. The Mojave college is part of a multi-campus system like CMC, he said.

Before working in Arizona, Hart taught music to elementary students, spent 10 years at Adams State College in Alamosa and was principal of an elementary school in Cortez.

"My true love has always been working with students," he said.

In his interview Friday, Hart said he would be open to teaching music classes at CMC, partly to raise his involvement with campus life.

"As an administrator, I don't want to be so removed from faculty and student issues that I don't know what's going on," he said.

Hart also spoke about a great potential for growth in all aspects of the college's curriculum and said a move to Routt County would be ideal.

"I grew up in Colorado," said Hart, a native of the Denver area. "This would be like coming back home."

Snow, sun and snow again

After living in Alaska for 20 years before working in the Virgin Islands, John Leipzig hopes to once again come to the cold.

"I am absolutely drawn to institutions of place," he said, calling Steamboat a special community. "I belong in the North, and I belong in the West."

Leipzig is retired. He last worked as a chancellor at the University of the Virgin Islands on a St. Thomas campus of about 1,700 students.

He previously worked as dean of the college of liberal arts at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, where he also taught communications and served as president of the faculty senate.

Leipzig said Friday that when he began his job in the Virgin Islands, one of the first things he did was make copies of the school's financial information and distribute those copies to school administrators, many of whom had never seen the information before.

"That established right away that we weren't going to be hiding things," he said.

Leipzig said he would bring that same openness to CMC and be "very embedded in the community and daily operations of the campus."

"This college is a special place in a special place, doing wonderful things," Leipzig said. "Why would you not want to be a part of that?"

Ready to rock

Edward Nuhfer described himself Friday as a geologist by education and profession.

The director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Idaho State University, Nuhfer has written several books about Western Slope geology. He lived near the Interstate 70 corridor for 10 years while serving as the director of teaching effectiveness and faculty development at the University of Colorado in Denver from 1992 to 2002.

Nuhfer said the learning college methodology makes CMC a rare bargain.

"Students are getting here, for a community college price, what other students are paying $20,000 for at a private school," he said. "It's a heck of a deal."

Nuhfer earned his doctorate degree in geology from the University of Mexico. He said he would improve faculty development at CMC by preventing poor faculty evaluation processes he has seen in past jobs.

"I saw whole departments turn into snake pits, just by putting people into competition with each other," Nuhfer said. "You have to concentrate more on the work that's being done."

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