by NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief
Education and working hard has become one college president’s motto in life.
Dr. Kelvin Sharp, president of South Plains College, recently announced that he will be retiring in the state of Texas and continuing his career in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Dr. Sharp grew up in Nebraska, although his parents were from the panhandle of Texas.
“They lived in Nebraska 25 years,” says Dr. Sharp. “So, I went to high school at a small school at Tryon. After I graduated high school, I went to college at Chadron State College.”
Dr. Sharp received his bachelor’s degree in math and physics to become a high school teacher. He then started teaching in his hometown at McPherson County High School and continued to teach there for three years, until he made the decision to move to Texas to be closer to his grandparents.
“In 1983, my family, my parents and I moved to Clarendon so we could be closer to my mom’s mother and my dad’s parents,” says Dr. Sharp. “When I moved to Clarendon, I got a teaching job for one year at Claude High School.”
Prior to coming to SPC, Dr. Sharp taught math at Clarendon College in 1984. He remembers the president of Clarendon College at the time called him into his office to speak with him about his job.
“He told me if I wanted to keep my job at Clarendon College, I needed a master’s degree,” Dr. Sharp recalls. “So I started a master’s degree and finished it up at Texas Tech in ‘87.”
Dr. Sharp decided to continue to work on his doctorate degree in Higher Education Administration. He says he worked the nine months of the school year and moved to Lubbock, where he went to summer school for his doctorate degree.
“In ’94, I finished my Doctorate of Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech and worked at Clarendon that whole time,” explains Dr. Sharp. “I commuted back and forth during the school year and moved down [to Lubbock] during the summer.”
Dr. Sharp married his wife, Lissa, in 1994, and a year later he went to West Texas A&M in Canyon to become the rodeo coach and math instructor.
“We stayed in Canyon for four years, and what’s when Lindsey was born during that time,” says Dr. Sharp. “She was born in ’97, and we stayed at WT until ’99, until Dr. Gary McDaniel, who was the president of South Plains College at the time, called me.”
Dr. Sharp recalls Dr. McDaniel telling him that he needed to apply for the Dean of Arts and Sciences job at SPC.
“I told him I have good job, and I like what I’m doing,” explains Dr. Sharp. “He told me, ‘I need you to come and apply.’ I told Lissa it was probably something I needed to do in my career.”
Dr. Sharp came to SPC and applied. He received the job as the Dean of Arts and Sciences and officially started on July 1, 1999. In 2000, James Taylor, the vice president of academic affairs, went to Arkansas, which gave Dr. Sharp the opportunity to become the vice president of academic affairs.
“Dr. McDaniel called me in and asked me if I would move up to the vice president for academic affairs, and I told him I would,” Dr. Sharp says. “I moved up to that job in January, and I was only the dean for six months.”
Dr. Sharp was the vice president of academic affairs for five years until Dr. McDaniel retired in 2004. The Board of Regents interviewed Dr. Sharp, and he was appointed the president of SPC in December of 2004. He has served as president of SPC for 11 and a half years.
Dr. Sharp has accepted the position of president of New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, New Mexico. He will start his new position on July 1.
“I always considered in my career the opportunity to retire in Texas and work out of state,” explains Dr. Sharp. “That was something that I thought would be a great opportunity for me. I would like to work 10 or 15 years more, and then maybe toward the end of my career retire in New Mexico, and then Lissa and I can just enjoy the rest of our time.”
The Nebraska native never thought we would ever be the president of SPC. Dr. Sharp says when someone takes a role, the best thing someone could do is do the best job in the position that he or she is in at the time. His advice for young people is to continue their education and to achieve to become better in the position they are in.
“I didn’t stop at a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree,” explains Dr. Sharp, “because I continued and got my doctorate degree. Sometimes you have to start off as the bottom banana, and you need to work hard as the bottom banana and those opportunities will open up. I believe that’s what I’ve done.”
From the time Dr. Sharp has been at SPC, he said his greatest achievements have included the Plainview Center, the nursing simulation center at the Reese Center, the Lubbock Center, and some upgrades to Texan Dome.
“I always said 95 percent of the people that came to SPC came to the Dome,” says Dr. Sharp. “I think the upgrades we made reflect the image and quality that you want people to have of SPC.”
Dr. Sharp also is proud of the two new housing units, which were the first housing units built at SPC in 30 years.
“It also allowed us to upgrade some of our older units and made them more presentable to families,” explains Dr. Sharp. “If you look at the Allied Health Building and Cosmetology, and the space we created over there, it created great educational facilities, plus it moved some students off our campus. It gave us some of our parking back that we didn’t have. It increased our enrollment, and increased our state funding.”
Dr. Sharp says that he appreciates the faculty and staff he has worked with through the time he has been at SPC. He explains he has developed relationships at SPC that are very special to him.
“This is a very special place,” says Dr. Sharp. “It’s not like anywhere I’ve worked before. It’s been my pleasure, and it’s been a blessing for me to be part of the SPC family.”