Education feature: Retired CCC administrator enjoyed challenge

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo David Caffey sits in his home office. Caffey retired from Clovis Community College on Jan. 4 after 17 years.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

David Caffey enjoyed everything he did at Clovis Community College.

As vice president for Instruction for seven years and vice president for institutional effectiveness, his job duties covered a lot of territory.

Caffey, who retired Jan. 4 after 17 years with the college, said both jobs kept him busy.

As vice president for instruction he was in charge of instructional programs, supervised the academic divisions and services, curriculum and new program development, and hired new faculty members.

“I was kind of in the middle of everything,” he said. “I was between the faculty, students and employers in the community. It was very busy. A lot of what I did was reactive but when I could be creative, that was fun.”

During his time as vice president for instruction, Caffey helped create the cosmetology program and the tech career center. He said many programs started at the college begin because people in the community ask for them.

“A lot of states have some like that (tech career center) where small school districts need technical programs but can’t afford it because of their size,” he said. “When we had a critical mass of superintendents from school districts asking for it, it made sense to do it.”

The technical career center provides programs such as automotive technology, cosmetology and emergency medical services to high schoolers.

In 2000, Caffey moved to vice president for institutional effectiveness.

“I thought when I got the job that I needed to make a hand out to tell people what it is,” he laughed.

As vice president for institutional effectiveness, Caffey worked on strategic planning, institutional research, accountability reporting, grant development and accreditation.

“I felt like I needed a change. I’d had in mind for a while that I wanted to get into something a little less frenzy than my previous job,” Caffey said.

Caffey said the second position called for some of his better skills such as writing, analyzing, producing documents and coordinating processes. He most enjoyed grant development.

“It’s a lot of fun when you know you can capture resources that can help your college and community,” he said.

He said he enjoyed watching grant funded projects such as Upward Bound and Gear-Up, both aimed at high school students.

“It’s great to work with younger kids, to help kids who might not have gone to college. It’s fun to see them on the CCC campus making themselves comfortable in a place they might not have thought they’d be,” Caffey said.

Caffey said he enjoyed the close relationship the college has with the surrounding communities.

“A community college can always be looking and listening for what the needs are of the community and be thinking, ‘can our institution help fill that need?’” he said.

As an example, the college began the industrial technology program because employers such as Xcel, Southwest Cheese and Cummins Natural Gas said they needed local trained technicians.

Caffey plans to work with grant writing for other colleges and universities.

“I am 62. I would have just stayed with CCC for those last three years but I had a chance to do something else with a different pattern of activities and a different rhythm of activity and a different place,” he said.

Caffey has worked at four community colleges and the University of New Mexico during his career. When he came to CCC, he thought he’d stay for five years.

“Something I’ve always enjoyed about higher education is that it’s very modular. Once you’ve been in a position and you’ve grown there and done what you could, you can go on to something else,” Caffey said.

Caffey has undergraduate and masters degrees in government and a doctorate in higher education administration with a special emphasis on community college.

“It’s very deliberate on my part to work at community colleges. I like the democratic nature of community colleges. They are intended to be places of opportunity for people to improve, either economically or personally. There is an emphasis on lifelong learning that I appreciate,” he said.

Throughout his years being an administrator, Caffey also taught government classes.

CCC President John Neibling said Caffey will be missed.

“I’m not sure that anyone is irreplaceable but he comes about as close as anybody,” Neibling said. “He’s just so talented in so many different areas. Besides being a solid administrator, he’s an excellent writer, great manager. He just does it all.”

Neibling said Caffey’s position will be replaced by a dean of institutional effectiveness. He said the new position will focus more specifically on institutional research.