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Work underway at Yavapai College’s Sedona campus is on track with expanded classrooms ready for students this fall.

That was something James Perey, dean of the Verde Valley campus, was proud to share with the Sedona City Council on Tuesday, March 28.


He said highlights of the renovations will include adding culinary and pastry kitchens to support the development of a culinary and hospitality program. In addition, there will be the redesigning of classrooms to accommodate lifelong learning, community education and general education programming. Yavapai College will also be exploring a partnership with Sedona Red Rock High School to enhance their performing arts program.

Perey said these programs will help meet the county’s growing workforce demand, while also providing a variety of general interest classes for the community.

Overall, the Yavapai College system has seen its enrollment drop by 2 percent this semester but the Verde Valley campus in Clarkdale has seen a 6 percent bump. He pointed out, though, that some community colleges throughout the state are down by double-digit percentages.

“A lot of this has to do to the efforts of better aligning our scheduling on the Verde Valley campus and making it conducive to students’ schedules,” he said of the Verde Valley campus increase. “Also because of the efforts of student development in getting out there to the high schools and recruiting.”

He noted that while the school is seeing a major increase in students ages 18 to 20, three quarters of enrollment is still part-time students. As an administrator he said he’d like to see the number of full-time students go up. As a way to do so, the college has started a program that will enable it to look at what barriers are preventing a higher number of students to enroll full time.

In regard to the Sedona Center, Perey said college officials are reconfiguring the existing space after looking at what programming was needed at that campus. In the end it was decided culinary arts, general education, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and performing arts demanded the greatest consideration. However, the performing arts concept was difficult to include because that designated space would be for that use only. Instead, they wanted to look at flexible space in order to accommodate changing needs in the years to come.

In addition to enclosing the rotunda-like area for additional space, there will be a new main entry area on the south side of the campus near the highway. That will also be where the main parking lot will be built.

Perey said he’s excited about the culinary and hospitality program coming to Sedona and hopes it will appeal to students of all ages.

“One of the reasons it made sense to put culinary and hospitality in the Sedona Center is because there is a huge market on the non-credit side,” he said. “Referring back to our demographics, we’re going to have a contingent that will want to take it for credits because they want to go into the industry. But we’ll also have the ability to offer non-credit for things like cooking classes.”
Enchantment Resort has agreed to fund 10 students to go through the hospitality program. Perey will be meeting soon with the Sedona Lodging Council with the hopes that more resorts will do the same.

“We want to keep young people here in order to make a living and raise a family,” he said.

A way of doing that is working with Sedona Red Rock High School on developing a morning block of culinary and hospitality classes for up to 24 students to attend from 7 to 10 a.m. Those students will earn full college credits. Classes for part- and full-time culinary students will be in the evenings, while non-credit classes will be held on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Verde Valley and Sedona campuses have created a strategic plan that looks at student success, economic responsiveness and engaging the community.

“Enrollment is important, but more importantly to me is retention and completion,” he said. “Enrollment will fluctuate but are we providing the services we need and getting students the help so they can complete? It’s not enough that we get them in the door, we have to help them succeed in meeting their educational goals.”

Mayor Sandy Moriarty said she’s happy with the direction the college is going, especially when it comes to Sedona.

“There was a time, not too long ago, when there wasn’t much going on there,” she said. “Now, it’s really exciting what could take place. And the partnership with the high school is really good, too. It will really do so much for both programs.”

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