Officials aim to take CCC to next level

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle
John Neibling talks with Mary Caffey (left) after he is introduced as the new president of Clovis Community College on Tuesday. Caffey worked with Neibling at San Juan College for about two years.

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ Staff Writer

From the vantage point of its newly appointed president, Clovis Community College is a strong institution that can be even stronger.

“We are poised on the edge of taking (CCC) into the next level and moving it forward,” CCC president John Neibling said Tuesday in his second day as the leader of the two-year school.

Neibling mapped his goals for the institution, citing a “need to preserve and strengthen” partnerships with the Clovis Municipal Schools and Eastern New Mexico University, continue to provide affordable education, and cater to the economic health of the region.

“A couple of areas” at the college need to be expanded, Neibling said.

The construction of an Allied Health Center, which would house the nursing and several other health programs at the college, is chief on that list, he said.

Enrollment at CCC plunged 9 percent from 2004-2005 to 2005-2006, according to Neibling, and boosting enrollment is also a priority, he said.

However, declining enrollment is a trend at colleges across the nation, Neibling said. As employment rates rise, enrollment at institutions of higher learning generally drops, Neibling said.

That fact, coupled with uncertainty about the future of Cannon Air Force Base, contributed to the decline at CCC, Neibling said.

Following the press conference, CCC Board of Trustees Chairman Russell Muffley said, “I think it (Neibling’s appointment) is great for the community.

“We are going to move forward.”

The Clovis Community College offers instruction at the associate’s degree level. Enrollment at the college generally hovers around 4,000, officials said.

Neibling is the third CCC president. He succeeds Beverlee McClure, who vacated the position when she accepted a job in August as the first Secretary of Higher Education.

The Kansas native was appointed into the position this spring by the CCC Board of Trustees in a 3-2 vote.

Prior to accepting the position, Neibling served as the vice president of instruction at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona.

For Neibling, the move to Clovis is a return to his small-town roots.

“To be honest,” he said during the press conference, “we (he and his wife) kind of just missed being in a small town where we know people and feel connected.”

Neibling, an avid fly fisherman, has been married for 36 years. He and his wife Karen have three grown children, according to information provided by CCC.

He obtained his doctorate in education administration and supervision from Arizona State University, and also holds degrees in English.