Rowley-backers feel snubbed

Becky Rowley, interim president of Clovis Community College, listens Wednesday as the College Board of Trustees announced the new president. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The decision that ushers in an Arizona man as the president of Clovis Community College incited ire among a dense band of Clovis residents who favored veteran CCC administrator Becky Rowley for the position.

Moments after announcement of the decision to offer the job to John Neibling of Arizona a flock of residents who came to hear the decision rushed out of the room. Others clustered in tight groups outside, digesting the bypass of Rowley, a Clovis native.

“I think it’s shameful (the decision),” said Ann deMaio, also a Clovis native. “We had a Clovis native who came to serve her community. We need to support our own.

“(Rowley) has given her heart to this college.”

A 1982 Clovis High School graduate, Rowley received her doctorate in English from the University of New Mexico. She returned to Clovis as an English teacher at CCC. She has been employed at the college for more than a decade and previously served as CCC executive vice president.

When former CCC President Beverlee McClure stepped down from the position last summer to become the first state secretary of higher education, Rowley was named interim president of the institution.

With Neibling onboard, her continued employment as the vice president of the college is left to his discretion, Rowley said. The Board of Trustees requested she remain the interim president until he arrives at the college.

Rowley, relieved the long, pins-and-needles process of selecting a new president has come to an end, said she would remain at the college as the interim president and as the vice president, “for the time being,” if the position is offered to her.

“I am glad this is over, but I don’t want to comment any further,” Rowley said after the will of the board was announced.

Board of Trustees Secretary Gayla Brumfield, who was visibly upset during the CCC meeting, her lips pursed and her eyes cast downward, expressed her support of Rowley before casting her vote — not against Neibling, she said, but for Rowley.

“I have to vote no against this motion,” Brumfield said, citing Rowley’s many attributes and history of service at the college, her compliments evoking a round of fierce applause from those in the audience.

“(Rowley) has proven her commitment, passion and dedication for this community college,” Brumfield said after the meeting. “She came back to the community, and she has been a tremendous asset to this college.”

Former Clovis Commissioner Cathy Haynes, who attended Wednesday’s meeting as a supporter of Rowley, said the Trustee decision may be a setback for the college.

“We will have to reinvent the wheel,” she said, and a relationship at the state and local level will need to be forged anew.

Haynes also said the decision sends a discouraging message to educated Clovis natives who want to return to forge a living in their hometown.