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NMC board to form presidential search committee

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WITH Interim President Frankie Eliptico declining to be considered for the position, the Northern Marianas College Board of Regents will start the process of forming a presidential search committee, Board Chairman Charles Cepeda said.

He said the committee’s functions, members, procedures, budget, and timeline among other things will be formalized by the board.

Cepeda said the board had asked Eliptico, who has been interim president since Aug. 2018, to consider filling the position on a more permanent basis.

Cepeda said after Super Typhoon Yutu hit Saipan and Tinian and devastated the NMC campus, Eliptico “stepped up to the leadership role with a great deal of passion for the college.”

Under Eliptico’s leadership, NMC staff members, faculty, and students worked together and saw growth in enrollment even after the worst typhoon to hit NMC,” Cepeda said.

Disaster recovery requires a great deal of focus and commitment, he added.

NMC employee Robert Suzuki said Eliptico has done a great job as the interim president.

“I’ve been here at NMC for more than 20 years, and during that time, Interim President Frankie was one of the few people I saw that made a true difference,” Suzuki said. “He really cares for the college, and I hope the board finds someone who is a great leader like him.”

Alexis Cabrera, who heads the Office of Student Activities and Leadership and the staff Senate president, said: “Under Frankie’s leadership, we were able to deal head-on with major obstacles like the destruction of NMC’s campus by Super Typhoon Yutu and the austerity measures. He has done so many great things for the college as the interim president.”

A few weeks ago, Eliptico announced that the college secured its largest grant to date — $21.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education that will help with building new structures. Other grants for NMC will be announced soon.

Besides Super Typhoon Yutu, additional challenges have come up in the past year and a half.

The budget for the college appropriated by the central government was reduced because of Super Typhoon Yutu’s economic impact and the novel coronavirus outbreak, which caused a steep decline in tourist arrivals.

From April to November 2019, NMC implemented austerity measures that saw the reduction of work hours by eight or the equivalent of 10 percent salary decrease for employees.

With the board’s approval, NMC will again implement the reduction of work hours by up to 20 percent or 16 hours.

Eliptico said he will return to his position of NMC vice president of administration and advancement when a new president is hired.

He added that he is committed to continue working on NMC’s recovery and rebuilding initiatives.

When he was appointed as interim president about 18 months ago, Eliptico said he originally thought he would be in the interim position for two months only.

He expressed his appreciation to the NMC team for working with him through disaster recovery, austerity measures, and the threat of the novel coronavirus.

“The credit is not mine by myself. To get everybody to work together and do great things is not easy, but we have been able to do it. The college staff and faculty have been amazing. I have the best team in the Marianas,” he said.

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