Stop the Press

Student newspaper editor takes issue with Yavapai Community College president.

Walker went about restructuring, but did it in a manner that so eroded morale on the campus that in 1992, 66 of the 78 faculty members of the college voted "no confidence" in his administration.

As the faculty and administration battled on legitimate issues of governance, a subcurrent of anonymous threats, pranks and accusations flowed among friends and foes of Walker. Tires were slashed on both sides of the issue, nails were left under tires, nasty cartoons were distributed, and most everyone involved received some sort of anonymous threat.

David Hochstettler, a retired Yavapai English professor, summed up that strange year this way in a 1997 letter to the Prescott Courier:

Although his days with the college paper are ending, Vince Sanders plans to begin publishing his own newspaper in September.
Paolo Vescia
Although his days with the college paper are ending, Vince Sanders plans to begin publishing his own newspaper in September.
Paolo Vescia

"I think what really happened was that the media circus of 1992 drew all kinds of people into the conflict: pro-faculty, pro-administration, informed and uninformed, well-intentioned and malicious, stable and unstable, principled and unprincipled."

On campus, the student newspaper began reporting on the fight. Student editors also began digging into some of the accusations being made by faculty and community members. The monthly paper became increasingly negative toward the Walker administration.

So Walker began pulling the papers from newsstands around campus, saying he was protecting the students. Then he shut down the paper.

Soon after, students started an underground newspaper. Merrill Glustrom, who ran the college's Learning Center, helped the students put together the newspaper.

"They were committed to getting the word out on what was happening at the campus," says Glustrom, who now works for a community college in Colorado. "I'm a real strong believer in the marketplace of ideas. So I helped."

After Walker left, the new president, Doreen Dailey, approached Glustrom in 1993 about starting up a new college newspaper. She asked him to research college newspaper models and policies from around the country and bring a recommendation. He did, a set of "boilerplate" policies were put in place, a publications board was established and the fledgling Mile High Echoes appeared.

"At that point, I thought Doreen Dailey was the answer to all of Yavapai's problems," Glustrom said. "Good God, was I wrong."

"Dailey has done an outstanding job at YC. Her record speaks for itself. . . . She has in place the staff to take YC to new levels of excellence except, of course, for the handful of dissidents who still want to play their childish games."

-- Jim Garner, editor,

Prescott Courier, 1997

Doreen Dailey moved with her daughter from Oregon to Prescott just before the fall session of 1993. Before school started, she had already received her first anonymous threat."Don't think you can sneak into town," she says one letter said. Another: "This is the first of several evaluations."

The harassment intensified as she began implementing her policies, she says.

Dailey believes the ill will at Yavapai is "identical to what you'd find on 50 percent of college campuses in the year 2000." Community colleges are increasingly trying to be responsive to the public, she says, and the public is increasingly pushing for colleges to provide practical skills for career training in increasingly high-tech-reliant fields.

As the college has grown and diversified under her watch, she has been pulled further from day-to-day administrative issues into long-term big-picture planning.

"The old-timers talk about "the family,' but this family is now a $40 million operation with 1,000 employees," she says. "Are there growing pains? Sure there are. . . . So many things are happening. So many decisions are being made. And one of the problems is this: We no longer have the luxury of debate for three or four years.

"But that doesn't mean for a second that we're not valuing the humanities or anybody's input," she says.

Contrary to Sanders' assertions, Dailey has been an immensely popular president, says Melody Riefsnyder, the marketing director for the college.

"I think the college is very cohesive because [the faculty and staff] believe in [Dailey's] master plan," Riefsnyder says. "They have all gone on the record in support of her.

"Never before have I ever seen the faculty so behind something that this college wants to do. I'm truly grateful for their support."

Riefsnyder proves her point with a memorandum sent to the board by Mary Verbout, the faculty association president. In April, Verbout wrote:

"On behalf of the creative, energetic, enthusiastic, dedicated members of the staff and faculty, I'd like to clearly state that we support the bond and the opportunities that it will provide us to continue serving the students of Yavapai County."

Dailey detractors see a much different picture. They felt she was monomaniacally pursuing grand new programs and buildings to pad her résumé at the expense of core curricula and the welfare of faculty and students. And when the faculty complained, they were ignored and then subjected to accusations and investigations.

"If people got sideways with the administration, they'd come after them with Gestapo tactics," said Larry Strom, who retired last year after 23 years as a professor at Yavapai. "They chopped a bunch of heads off -- Rubin Banuelos, Merrill Glustrom, some others. People were afraid."

In the mid-1990s, a new underground newsletter called The Phantom appeared. The Phantom savaged Dailey's policies and even accused her of financial misdeeds.

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