NORTHERN Marianas College on Thursday held a “Star Wars”-themed welcoming ceremony for its new president, Dr. Galvin S. Deleon Guerrero, who thanked Frankie Eliptico for his three years of commitment to NMC as its interim president.
Eliptico is NMC’s vice president for administration and advancement once again.
“As long as you have in your heart your students and their success, I think everything else is going to fall into place,” he said in an interview. “That's what has been guiding me in many of those difficult situations or whenever we have to make difficult decisions.”
He said the students “are our main clients — they are who we work for. At the end of the day, we have to work in their best interest.”
Just a few weeks after he was appointed interim president in August 2018, Super Typhoon Yutu slammed into Saipan and Tinian, destroying, among many other resources, most of NMC buildings.
“The days after Super Typhoon Yutu there were a lot of questions on how to move forward because we lost 85% of the campus,” Eliptico recalled.
As he oversaw the recovery efforts that included short- and long-term construction activities at NMC, he emphasized the need to build new buildings and facilities.
At the time, he said, “we did not know what our options were, but we believed we had to focus on making certain that the programs and activities for students would continue so they could continue on their journey toward college degrees. We were driven to make sure that their academic journey was not interrupted in any major way.”
In the months that followed, NMC secured more than $80 million in grants for the construction of new buildings and facilities.
NMC at the same time had to navigate through the austerity measures and other challenges caused by the economic downturn that worsened with the global spread of Covid-19.
The college was the first government entity in the CNMI to implement salary cuts to reflect the reduced appropriations from the central government.
The college was also able to see strong enrollment despite having to deal with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Returning to his previous job as VP for administration and advancement, Eliptico said he will support the NMC president in making sure that a brand-new campus will be completed.
“There are many wonderful things coming down the pipeline for the college and I am excited to support our new president in his role here at NMC, while working with everyone else at the college to make certain that we are meeting workforce needs, providing the needs of the private and public sectors in terms of training opportunities, education programs and other activities that are really needed especially at this critical juncture for the CNMI.”
As vice president, he will oversee the college facilities, human resources, financial activities as well as the marketing and fundraising efforts needed to help build a new campus.
Asked why he declined the NMC board’s offer to be president of the college, Eliptico said the presidency is “something I believe can be a part of my life in the future, but at this point I feel that I'd like to focus my efforts and energy on really expanding college facilities and constructing many of the wonderful buildings that we have secured grants for. So I really want to focus on that.”
He added, “I do want to emphasize that it's been a privilege of a lifetime to work with an amazing team here at NMC. I thank the board of regents, the Legislature, the governor and everybody else here in the CNMI who have supported my interim presidency for the last three years.”