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In response to board concerns, PHSC president vows to make changes

Timothy Beard, president of Pasco-Hernando State College, says communication is what he will work most to improve, in hopes that increased correspondence with college staffers and stakeholders will better his overall performance.
Timothy Beard, president of Pasco-Hernando State College, says communication is what he will work most to improve, in hopes that increased correspondence with college staffers and stakeholders will better his overall performance.
Published Aug. 2, 2017

After a tough round of annual evaluations by the college's board of trustees last month, Pasco-Hernando State College president Timothy Beard says he plans to use the mixed reviews as motivation to better his performance.

"Evaluations can make employees better or bitter," Beard said in a statement after the review. "My major takeaway … is that I can grow in various areas. I intend to use every opportunity possible to do so."

The trustees voted unanimously in June to extend the president for one more year after an unprecedented amount of contentious discussion about his performance. The year will serve as a sort of grace period, allowing Beard, who trustees selected to lead the college in spring 2015, time to address their concerns.

The board's criticisms largely had to do with Beard's ability to lead and communicate, two areas he says he plans to work on after spending the last month poring over evaluation data and written responses, some of which even called for his resignation.

"It takes time to build a foundation," Beard told the Tampa Bay Times this week, noting that he has been president for only two years. "I see this year as a time to really solidify my place and give the priorities that I came in with greater acceleration."

The president says communication is what he will work most to improve, in hopes that increased correspondence with college staffers and stakeholders will better his performance.

In addition to his current communication efforts — weekly and monthly briefings and phone calls to board members ahead of meetings — Beard said he plans to implement "additional layers of communication" with various councils at the college by scheduling more regular meetings with deans, provosts and vice presidents.

"I want to make sure that everyone can be very clear with me in terms of their needs and how I can provide resources to meet those needs," he said. "I want to make sure that my team is empowered to do what they need to do."

Beard said better communication should also address the concerns some board members had about his leadership. He said he hopes a push toward more intentional conversation with administrators and other stakeholders will make for faster decision-making on his part.

He said when external factors make projects or initiatives move more slowly than the trustees might like, he plans to have "more intense, more frequent" talks with them.

Beard admitted being surprised by some of the evaluation results, specifically some board members' ratings on his civic engagement and community involvement, things he said he has worked hard to prioritize and has prided himself on since he was a PHSC vice president.

He said he will bend his schedule to fit in more civic events, but thinks he has represented the college well by serving on various local boards and enlisting college provosts to do the same as an extension of himself.

"I can't be everywhere at once," he said, noting his involvement with several organizations, including CareerSource Pasco Hernando, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, the Pasco County Development Council, the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army and, soon, the United Way.

Beard defended his service as president by pointing to what he called "tangible" or "quantifiable objective measures." Examples include an award from Gov. Rick Scott for making gains in state performance measures and the college's No. 1 rating for giving students the highest return on their investment.

Beard will be reviewed by the board again at the start of summer next year. He said he hopes trustees bring their concerns to him as they come.

Until then, the president said he plans to keep looking for ways to improve and make sure everyone on his team feels good about the direction he is headed.

"The board has high standards, and I want to be able to rise to the expectations they have," he said. "Can we improve? Yes, and we will.

"I am willing to go the extra mile."