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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New Arizona regent proves himself an educational powerhouse

The most recent appointment to the Arizona Board of Regents, Dr. Larry Penley, is no “green” educator in any sense of the word.
Penley, a veteran of higher education and its administration, was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to the board earlier this month in order to fill the vacant seat left from Regent Mark Killian’s resignation.
Killian resigned from his position with the board after Ducey appointed him as director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
“He brings a world of experience, and I think it’s going to be a plus—first of all to the students and their parents and the taxpayers. [He] was just a great choice,” Killian said in regards to Penley’s appointment. “He will be a good, articulate spokesman with the legislature about articulating the need for additional funding to the universities.”
Penley has an extensive higher education pedigree, most notably serving as president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, president of Colorado State University, chancellor of the Colorado State University system, dean of Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business—and the list goes on.
In relation to Ducey’s request for the reorganization of the regents and public university system as an enterprise system, Penley said he believes that the governor may have appointed him to the board not only due to his expertise in academia, but also for his experience and perspective as a businessman.
His company, Penley Consulting, is an executive coaching and higher education consulting firm that “develops leaders, increases organizational capacity and enables market-driven, strategic initiatives,” according to the company’s website.
An educator and businessman with degrees in psychology, communication and business, Penley has built a career around higher education and is looking to apply the lessons he has learned along the way to his time with the board of regents.
Echoing goals recently outlined by regents President Eileen Klein and the board as a whole, Penley steps into his new position with a focus on three particular areas in the Arizona higher education system.
Plenley listed raising the state’s level of educational attainment as his first goal. More specifically, to raise “the participation rate of our citizenry in higher education, and ultimately of course their graduation rate, so that we have an increasing proportion of our citizens in the state of Arizona who have higher education.”
Secondly, while Arizona universities have one of the highest freshman retention rates in the country, Penley said he feels there is still more work to be done in this department. He said freshman participation rate is an important marker of student engagement and an indicator of the type of experience a freshman has during their first year at a university.
“I believe that’s critical to getting to a graduation rate and educational attainment rate that we really need,” Penley said.
Further raising the quality of the overall learning experience at Arizona’s universities is Penley’s third area of focus. Not limited to just understanding a particular area of study, but producing students who are better prepared for the world that awaits them after college.
“[A college graduate] has a capacity to really improve their state in life and to participate actively as a citizen of Arizona and the U.S.,” Penley said.
Jay Heiler, the chairman of the board of regents, expressed his excitement for the addition of Penley to the board in an Oct. 15 press release.

“… It is his character, his quality as a person and his decades-long dedication to our state, which hold equal promise for our universities, their students, faculty, staff and leadership,” Heiler said.

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