Last updated: 8/28/2012 11:39:25 AM
By Phillip Wright
Camp Verde Journal
CLARKDALE - James Perey is the new Dean of the Verde Valley Campus of Yavapai College. He has been with the college for 10 years.
"I've been an associate dean and managed the Chino Valley site," Perey explained. "I actually grew up in Mayer."
He graduated from Mayer High School and then enlisted in the Army for three years. After his enlistment was over, Perey earned a bachelor's in Agriculture Education at the University of Arizona.
He worked as an agriculture teacher at Wellton, Ariz. for four years. He then went to work for the University of Arizona as the professional development coordinator. He stayed in that position for two years before accepting a faculty position in the Agribusiness Department of Yavapai College.
Perey taught in that position for four years before moving into administration. He was associate dean at the Mayer site for six years before being promoted to the Verde Valley position.
In his position as associate dean, Perey oversaw, among other areas, the aviation department for both fixed wing and rotary wing. He also oversaw the mining degree program.
"I'm extremely excited about the possibilities," he said. He pointed out that the Clarkdale campus is practically a brand new campus after all of the renovation and remodeling that is nearing completion.
"We've got the opportunity for new program development," he said.
Part of the opportunities that Perey sees is economic development. He said he wants to know how the college can contribute to the overall community that it serves.
"The community colleges are really distinct in their mission," Perey said. He explained that part of the community colleges advantages come from open access, career development, the ability of students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities and the college's roll in economic development.
Part of his vision involves the fact that the college can be a driving force in meeting the needs of both its students and its community. That includes continuing current partnerships and building new ones. He says it also includes looking for ways to build new resources.
"A lot of my experience is building and launching new programs," Perey said. "It's a multi-pronged approach. We have to look at markets."
Perey said that before launching a new program the college looks for potential offshoots of the program. An example he gave has to do with the college's current wine industry programs. Possible offshoots of that program are hospitality and culinary certificates.
New programs are explored for possible private partnerships and soft money or grant money.
"Can we carve out partnerships with four-year colleges?" Perey said is another consideration with new programs.
He explained that before launching a new program, the college must look at national trends and also survey multiple constituents. He said the college has an absolute responsibility to educate students in careers with potential. That includes retention in school and employment opportunities.
"We have to report our placement data," he said. That reporting is done every year at the federal level.
The college's renewal of accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) depends on the reporting and an audit system.
"You have to have it," Perey said.
Without accreditation, the college would not qualify for student financial aid, either public or private, Perey explained.
Because of the current tight real estate market, Perey is currently commuting from Chino Valley to the Verde Valley.
Perey and his wife, Jessica, have a 2 ½-year-old daughter, Hayden, with their second child on the way.
He said that even though the completion date for the campus construction has been pushed back a bit, the fall semester will start on time.
"Needless to say, it's going to be tight," Perey said. "In October we'll be having a grand opening for both the college and the community."