Merit should always be main factor in selecting leaders

Freedom Newspapers

We appreciate the recent lively debate centered around the selection of Clovis Community College’s new president.

In particular, we agree that Interim President Becky Rowley deserved serious consideration.

We believe she could have been an effective leader.

However, we disagree with those who claim Rowley deserved the job because she is first a Clovis native.

Merit is all that should count when someone is hired for any job, not where a candidate is from. To do otherwise is to favor who you know over what you know.

The qualifications discussion revolves around CCC’s Board of Trustees’ 3-2 vote on April 26 to name Kansas native John Neibling as this college’s third president. Neibling, president of instruction at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona since 2001, has accepted. He succeeds Beverlee McClure, who left in September to become New Mexico’s first secretary of higher education.

The board members who supported Neibling, among them Board President Russell Muffley, said they chose Neibling for his successful college administrative background and what Muffley termed his “standards for achievement.”

Rowley certainly had strong credentials. A 1982 Clovis High School graduate, she’s worked at CCC 14 years and been an administrator since 1999. No doubt she has learned much in her eight months as interim president. Her roots provide her a familiarity with the school and its history, other community connections and the respect of many CCC students, faculty and staff. But CCC also has a history of bringing in outsiders who also have helped CCC and the community to prosper. Outsiders have brought to this campus fresh perspectives, experiences and new ways to generate ideas and plans for getting things done.

This newspaper respects and supports Becky Rowley. She is a good communicator, a dedicated public servant, a quietly inspiring leader and a nice person. She would have been a solid choice as CCC president this time, and perhaps she will have that opportunity again in the future.

We reject the idea some of her supporters have voiced that people should load the Board of Trustees with local people who will support local people being hired for such jobs. That reasoning serves no good purpose in a community primed for growth.

Instead, we welcome them to make sure they and others vote in this important off-year election that often attracts little voter interest. This board is a key link to college and community growth. But it needs on it people who have vision and the fortitude to insist upon and hire for merit in the college’s administration and staff, not people who make decisions based on geography.