Opportunities & Challenges



DACC offers programs at nine locations, providing in-person, hybrid, and online learning opportunities to students seeking to transfer to a 4-year institution; seeking an applied associates degree, often leading to licensure in a profession; and seeking qualifying credentials and non-credit based training. Through its workforce development programs DACC is an essential partner with businesses, NFP agencies and units of government in Las Cruces and throughout Dona Ana County.

The next VPAA must embrace the innovative nature of DACC, understanding that rapid change must be accomplished without sacrificing quality. Of equal importance is the capacity to respond to change caused by outside forces, be it changes in leadership in government, changes in leadership across the NMSU System, the impact of a pandemic, or shifts in jobs and labor market demands.

Given the rapid pace of change, resources must be allocated in a manner that is transparent and fair. Policies and procedures must be relevant to the mission and its execution, and must be consistently applied.

The VPAA will lead by example and with empathy, listening and learning from colleagues and the community, personally setting the tone for discourse, and building collaborative relationships to achieve the institution’s mission and strategic focus areas.





COVID 19 changed the world of higher education in ways that will impact higher education far into the future. From taking traditional courses online to budget adjustments affecting academic programs, teaching loads and staffing, post-pandemic higher education requires the VPAA to be proactive in anticipating needs, ensuring that DACC’s academic and workforce development programs reflect the changing needs of the greater community. There are multiple forces impacting higher education that cannot be ignored. Changing student demographics is an overarching issue for all community colleges. As DACC approaches the much anticipated enrollment cliff, the reduced pool of traditional age students will exacerbate challenges around recruitment and retention. Similarly, the knowledge and skills required of the workforce are changing at an ever increasing pace. Across the curriculum, changes in how and where students learn will require constant rethinking of pedagogy, andragogy, technological infrastructure and support, and the curriculum itself. The VPAA will be honest and transparent in discussing the external challenges facing the academy. The VPAA will take the lead in confronting challenges and embracing possibilities.




Meeting future challenges and converting them into opportunities requires a caring community of faculty, staff and students working together in an atmosphere of respect and common purpose. There must be a protocol that allows conflicting viewpoints to be discussed openly and without rancor.

Competition for limited resources requires a willingness to compromise and, in some cases, sacrifice for the common good.

DACC faculty, administrators, and staff are dedicated and loyal. Consistent with their devotion to students, they are concerned about the short- and long-term impact of enrollment trends and attendant changes in allocation of resources. Of equal concern are the changes in attitudes toward higher education by potential students, taxpayers and elected officials, which in turn, can impact DACC’s finances.

The VPAA will balance being an effective champion for DACC against the duty to serve the overall needs of the community. To accomplish this, he/she/they will forge the best of personal and professional relationships with all constituencies. It is expected that the VPAA will provide a style of leadership appropriate to a dynamic institution within a system – one that builds and strengthens the campus community in a manner consistent with the forward-thinking trajectory of the college.

The VPAA will view being a practical visionary and prudent risk-taker as complementary and consistent with the needs of the institution. He/she/they will understand that innovative ideas mean little if they are not converted into quantifiable projects that are completed on time and on budget. The VPAA will recognize the dangers of mission creep and being spread too thin, focusing team efforts to achieve positive outcomes. The VPAA will understand why DACC is the logical and best place for transforming creative thought into practical outcomes and become its most effective agent of change.




Located across the county, the different locations of DACC represent multiple cultures operating with a single overarching mission. This requires ongoing discussion of how DACC will simultaneously and effectively provide and strengthen linkages among traditional liberal arts education, professional education in a variety of disciplines, and workforce development in all its aspects.

The locations in the southern portion of Doña Ana County see themselves as economically and culturally different from the locations located in “the north,” the city of Las Cruces. Residents of greater El Paso, Texas, who may be drawn to DACC because of program offerings and lower tuition, represent another distinct group. Similarly, students who are residents of Mexico have distinct needs.

To some extent, curricular decisions may appear counterintuitive. Students in areas where it makes geographical sense to offer courses online are victims of limited bandwidth. Students who would benefit most from in-person instruction are often located in areas where the cost of classroom instruction is prohibitive. Access to transportation is an issue across the board. Public transportation is limited and inconsistent. The absence of consistent access to automobiles limits the distance students can travel to access educational programs and student services. The scheduling of classes at times that make sense for working students with families is an ongoing issue as is childcare.

Access to tutoring, advising and counseling services is vital for students who are in high risk situations. Provision of “wrap-around” student services at all DACC campuses is critical to growing enrollment, but is also carries a significant cost to maintain.

Because of the complexity of the issues, the VPAA must be prepared to work closely with other vice presidents to develop and maintain programs that are student-friendly.

The VPAA will seek ways for DACC’s cornucopia of educational programs to complement each other, ensuring positive learning outcomes regardless of teaching methodology or venue.




Dealing with competing demands for limited resources will require the VPAA to understand college finance and actively participate in the creation and management of the budget. Within the academic arena, the VPAA will need to initiate fact-based discussions of the cost of educating students, including ways that money may be reallocated to the benefit of the whole college.




DACC operates within the NMSU system framework and is governed by the NMSU Board of Regents.


Pistol Pete standing before a long road with a smile.


The relationship between DACC and NMSU involves a structured governance process, where the DACC Advisory Board and the NMSU Board of Regents consider the interests of both internal and external stakeholders during decision-making. The governance structure ensures independence from undue influence, with regents appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate, with specific safeguards in place to prevent conflicts of interest. While the governing board delegates daily management to the institution’s administration, it retains oversight and control over the NMSU system. Shared governance is emphasized, with faculty playing a significant role in decision-making through representation in bodies like the NMSU Faculty Senate and participation in various committees and councils. This ensures that faculty have a voice in matters concerning curriculum, degree requirements, and other academic issues at both the DACC and system-wide levels.

The DACC Advisory Board, comprised of representatives from the three local school boards, considers the interests of the college’s stakeholders. During Advisory Board meetings, members of the Advisory Board respond to proposals from the DACC executive leadership; vote on budget recommendations that are then submitted to the NMSU Board of Regents; authorize DACC mill levy elections and bond sales; and provide updates from the public-school districts.

The VPAA will establish and maintain effective working relationships with NMSU with the aim of furthering the goals of DACC. While the VPAA will interact with personnel from a broad range of NMSU offices, he/she/they play a particularly important role in several groups that address academic issues among the three community colleges and across the NMSU System.




It is a point of pride that DACC is on the leading edge of educational programing that meets immediate and future needs in the real world, balancing theoretical and practical, experiential learning. Strategic partnerships with businesses, public service organizations and units of city, county and state government play an important role in continuing to meet this goal.


A trio from Dona Ana County's fire department poses for the camera.


The VPAA will have the opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships while identifying and developing new ones. Accomplishing this will require a VPAA who is as comfortable working outside the college as within its confines.

The VPAA will serve not only as an institutional leader, but also a community leader and spokesperson. The VPAA will be expected to raise DACC’s visibility and reputation by demonstrating strong leadership and personal integrity.



DACC Chancellor Dr.Monica Torres


President Torres was recently assigned responsibility for two additional community colleges and has been promoted to Chancellor of the New Mexico State University System Community Colleges. Dr. Torres continues to serve as President of DACC, but will now need to focus her attention more broadly.

As a consequence, the VPAA will be expected to assume greater responsibility for DACC, including acting for the president when she is away. Details of how the relationship will play out are still a work in progress and will be shaped by the relationship that develops between the President/Chancellor and the next VPAA.



The VPAA will be an innovative, transformational, system thinker, who possesses a terminal degree in an appropriate academic discipline, is respected as a scholar, and who embraces the community college mission. Successful senior-level experience in leading an organization; managing change; and effectively interacting with the greater community is highly desired. In addition, the following qualities are desired:




  • The capacity to implement rapid, sustainable change in anticipation of and reaction to rapidly changing academic and community needs.
  • The ability to champion and advance academic excellence, student access and success, and college completion.
  • A collaborative leadership style, demonstrated through an ability to engage academic, administrative, student, government and community leaders respectfully, and achieve buy-in for a progressive agenda.
  • The style and experience of a planner and a doer. Someone who takes pride in cultivating a team; setting clear, measurable goals and achieving success.
  • The ability to work with others toward a common goal in a situation where all parties may not agree.
  • The ability to work collegially and responsively with other vice presidents and administrative leaders.
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The ability to be visible and accessible to students, faculty, staff, and other constituents of the DACC community.
  • The ability to listen and learn.
  • The capacity to inspire.
  • The capacity for strategic thinking and innovation.
  • The willingness to strive for consensus but also be decisive when appropriate.


  • The capacity to understand that being both a prudent risk-taker and practical visionary are necessary to achieving success.
  • The capacity to follow up on innovative ideas with solid plans, effective measures of progress and successful completion of projects.
  • The ability to process multiple positions on issues, seek means to reconcile them, and effectively explain how and why decisions are made when complete and seamless reconciliation is not possible.
  • The ability to prioritize in a manner that increases support for change.
  • The ability to say “no” with appropriate transparency and compassion.


  • The ability to build collaborative relationships, earning trust and respect across multiple constituencies (students, alumni, faculty, administration, elected officials and government agency heads, and community and strategic partners).
  • The ability to develop and nurture partnerships with external leaders and organizations.


  • The ability to manage a complex educational organization.
  • The capacity to support data-informed decision making.
  • Experience in building and managing budgets.
  • An understanding of the marketing of higher education programs.
  • Strategic planning experience.


  • The ability to interact comfortably and effectively with diverse groups of people in a variety of settings.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • A willingness to leave one’s office and engage people where they are.
  • Effective verbal and written communication skills.
  • The ability to listen carefully and to adjust one’s style and methodology as needed to interact effectively with a wide range of constituents.