Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

February 19, 2013

Peebles speaks to college

Midland VP has diverse background

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Dr. Rex Peebles, vice president of instruction at Midland College, spoke Tuesday afternoon to an audience of about 85 people, the first of three presidential candidates participating in forums to introduce them to the community.

Peebles addressed questions from the faculty and staff that had been submitted earlier, and moderated by Dr. Tommy Stringer.

Peebles said that Navarro College faces some interesting challenges in the coming years, including that the majority of growth is not in Navarro County, where the tax base lies; in academic accountability, and effectiveness.

He described himself as a Libertarian politically, with a management style in which he “asks a lot of hard questions,” and as someone who thinks outside the normal range of college administrators.

“In some respects, I’m unorthodox, a tad irreverent,” he told the audience.

What he brings to the table, though, is a different way of looking at things, Peebles said.

Peebles’ background is in instruction in Midland, but prior to that he worked as dean of social and behavioral sciences at Austin Community College. The two communities are very different, he said, given that Austin is more liberal and Midland more conservative. He brought up the differences while answering a question about security on campus.

“I’ve grown up with guns my whole life,” Peebles said, also describing himself as a veteran and a former hunter.

“I think guns on campus is a bad idea,” he said. The need to have people armed on campus is why colleges have a police force that’s trained to respond.

The toughest challenges he’s faced in his administrative background are almost always personnel issues, but he said that when it comes down to firing a staff or faculty member, he always keeps in mind what’s best for the students, not the individual.

The challenges he’ll face personally with becoming a president of a college for the first time are letting go of the instructional side, which he does now, and cultivating external relationships with the community that a college needs to have.

Peebles said that while it was possible to keep funding under the proposed new guidelines from the state by just passing through students with A’s and B’s, but he urged faculty to maintain rigorous standards because it is reflected in student success, and lessening standards will make employers less likely to want to hire Navarro graduates in the future.

On Wednesday, Dr. Ron Liss, currently Vice-President for Learning at Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, N.M., will speak at 3 p.m. at Dawson Auditorium on the Navarro College campus. On Thursday, Dr. Barbara Kavalier, currently President of San Jose City College in San Jose, Calif., will speak.



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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com