On Nov. 12, Palo Verde College (PVC) leadership, staff and students gathered at the Lucas Oil Technology Building for the grand opening of the on-campus Veterans Center.

The event included a tour, open house, and dedication ceremony, as well as the morning’s keynote speaker, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dr. Mark Clifford.

“Thank you so much for having me. I am both humbled and honored to be here to represent our veterans,” said Clifford, son of Blythe resident and retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Tom Clifford. “One thing that I’ve taken and done over the last year, or two years ago – I was able to speak at a high school with a friend of ours back in Kansas City, Missouri. And the one thing, the message I had, for those students is: don’t wait until Veterans Day to thank our vets. I think too often in our minds we kind of get caught up with celebrating our vets and thanking them for their service when we see them. We’ll wait for Veterans Day to thank them for their service and the things they’ve done for us today. Let’s not wait. Today, with the dedication here – it’s a great way of reminding ourselves that our veterans are important to us.”

Clifford, who retired following 20 years of service, spoke on the importance of community and experiences which led his journey to serve in the nation’s armed forces – a distinguished career which included multiple tours (Iraq, Qatar, Africa) and overseas deployments in support of Special Forces Operations in Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

“Dr. Clifford served at numerous posts including the 89th Supply Squadron at Andrews AFB (Air Force Base), the 374th Supply Squadron at Yokota AFB in Japan, and Commanded the 647th Logistics Readiness Squadron in Hawaii, and (the) 607th Material Maintenance Squadron in S(outh) Korea,” states Clifford’s biography, provided to attendees in the ceremony’s program. “Dr. Clifford’s distinguished career culminated at the nation’s Pentagon, serving as the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Global Logistics in Washington D.C.”

Clifford earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Sciences from the U.S. Air Force, a Master of Science Degree in Human Resource Management from the University of Maryland and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Sports Administration from the University of New Mexico.

Today, Clifford serves as the Colangelo College of Business’ Assistant Dean and the Director of Grand Canyon University’s Sports Business Program.

PVC Superintendent/President and U.S. Navy veteran Dr. Donald Wallace took a moment to thank PVC Veterans Club President and U.S. Navy veteran Francis Schuster for continuing to push the project through, as well as fellow service men and women in attendance.

“These veterans, and all veterans, without whose self-less service to our country, to our community, and ideals greater than themselves – none of this would be possible. It wouldn’t even be possible for us to be here today; it wouldn’t be possible for us to have a country today; and if we did, it would have no meaning without what these self-less people have done,” said Wallace.

The Palo Verde Valley Quilt Guild presented a donated patriotic embroidered wall tapestry for the new PVC Veterans Center.

“This (quilt) will be the first thing our veterans see when they walk in; thank you very much,” noted Wallace, who also thanked PVC Director of Student Success & Equity Jaclyn Randall for organizing the event.

The morning’s lunch was provided by the PVC Veterans Club, Joe Boire and Henry Rinaldi, as well as vocational instructors.

The 364-sq.-ft. Veterans Center is one of the projects assured in PVC’s November 2014 Measure P Bond, which passed with a 59.61 percent supermajority (62.92 in Riverside County and 51.86 in San Bernardino). The college used its own in-house resources to acquire a roughly $20,000 grant to pay for the re-modeling project.


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