Oliphant Interview – Podcast September 4, 2023

A Years’ Long Commitment To Fairness And Equity. Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Bob Oliphant back to the show. Oliphant is a former law school professor and dean who has been tracking geographic inequities in the availability of Yavapai College programs for more than a decade.

Despite the residents of Sedona and the Verde Valley paying for a substantial portion of the college’s revenue, the college governing board was preparing to sell the Sedona Center. “They were slowly closing it down,” says Oliphant. “They had gotten rid of the Zaki Gordon Film Institute that was nationally recognized – a terrific project – and had almost nothing left in the Sedona Center and so…people both in Sedona and throughout the Verde Valley rallied to prevent them from closing that facility. And have been fighting, more or less, to keep it open since 2015.”

“I was on the governing board at the time when they proposed their $103.5 million renovation program for the district and, when I looked into it, I was shocked. Less than five percent of the effort was going to come to the Verde Valley and Sedona,” according to Oliphant.

Not much has changed.

He explains, “Only 10 percent of the classes for credit are even available over here.” And, as for performing arts, sports, and career and technical education, the Verde Valley and Sedona are recipients of mere tokenism.

To address the inequities, Oliphant offers what he believes is the only real solution: “Over here, we need to own the college ourselves. It needs to be our college, our problem, our development, our theater.”

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