By Ryan Lengerich
Neil Nuttall said presiding at a college is something he always prepared for as he pursued his doctorate degree.
The Clovis Municipal Schools superintendent agreed Monday to chase what he called a “new dimension” in life by accepting a position as president at North Central Missouri State in Trenton, Mo.
The college’s board of trustees voted 6-0 on Wednesday to extend a contract offer to Nuttall. The contract will run from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2008. Nuttall accepted the offer.
“I really believe that the next frontier for us in terms of No Child Left Behind will be at the community college level,” said Nuttall who is in his eighth year as superintendent at Clovis schools. “It is so critically important that we develop strong partnerships with community colleges so that all of our students leave the secondary level and go into at least two years of training.”
Diane Raynes, president of the college’s board of trustees, said the 54-year-old Nuttall will fly to Trenton this weekend to finalize the contract. The school will pay him a $110,000 annual salary, about $11,000 more than he earns with Clovis schools.
NCMC is a two-year community college with about 1,500 students specializing in nursing and agriculture, Raynes said.
“Considering he doesn’t have community college experience, we were very impressed with what he knew about community colleges,” Raynes said. “One of the things we were looking for was somebody who had experience in raising funds and who would be a good person to go out and do those things. And as far as I am concerned, he definitely has the ability to do that.”
Nuttall earned his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma at Norman. His wife, Susanne, is a teacher at Lincoln-Jackson Arts Academy.
Clovis school board member Ken Merritt interviewed Nuttall for the superintendent position in 1997.
“It is unfortunate for Clovis schools because he has been an excellent superintendent, but we will go on and select another one and school will go on every day,” Merritt said.
In February, Nuttall’s contract was extended through the 2005-2006 school year by a 4-1 vote with board member Mark Lansford objecting.
“I am happy for him if this is something he wants to pursue in his career,” Lansford said. “I felt like he was very well qualified for the position he was applying for.”
The Clovis school district has more than 8,000 students and 1,200 employees. Nuttall stands to see different surroundings in Trenton, a rural town of about 6,000 people according to the 2000 census.
Founded in 1925, NCMC will celebrate 80 years in 2005.
“The public support there is immense,” Nuttall said. “The community there has really embraced this college for many, many years.”
Nuttall was among four finalists, which included a senior vice president of advancement at Lubbock Christian University. He will replace Walter Nolte, who, after seven years with NCMC, accepted a position with Casper Community College in Casper, Wyo.
Nuttall said he plans to discuss finishing the semester with the Clovis school board. He said he plans to utilize accrued time off before his departure.
The school board will have the responsibility of finding a replacement. Nuttall said the district has several qualified administrators.
Merritt said Nuttall improved curriculum and the district’s budget during his tenure.
“He is just one of those guys that can see what needs to be done and is willing to work at it to get things done,” Merritt said. “I assume that is probably what they saw in him in Missouri.”