Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Wishes

Here are a couple of photos from the college holiday party. What a great time!


Happiest of holidays to you and your families.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Classroom Visit

 When I get invited to attend classes I try to take faculty up on their offers as often as possible. I enjoy the opportunity to watch the faculy in action and interact with students. 
Recently, I attended one of Dave "Boom Boom" Barkan's chemistry classes. Watch this video and you will see how he got his nickname. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Update from the president's desk

The information below is from my December report to the Trustees. The numbers in parenthesis relate to the items in our strategic plan.

December 2013

National: A recent article in the Community College Times stated that community colleges under pressure to increase completion rates and student outcomes are increasingly relying on assessments to measure their progress and fine-tune programs to achieve better results. The article focused on examples of community colleges achieving dramatic increases in student graduation and job placement rates based on using data analysis to make improvements. Colleges implementing a campus-wide culture of evidence and making changes as a result of student outcomes assessment are demonstrating the most pronounced improvements to student success.

Region: On December 6th, campus leaders met with our counterparts from Montana State University-Billings to review our articulation agreements and discuss the potential for program offerings on our campus.

State: Governor Mead has appointed Powell resident and former NWC employee Kay Dooley to the Wyoming Community College Commission (WCCC). Ms. Dooley has been appointed to fulfill Jack Russell’s term which would have expired March 2015. According to state statute, Ms. Dooley's appointment by the Governor to fill the Commission vacancy is temporary until the Senate considers approval during the upcoming legislative session. If the Senate consents, the appointment will be effective March 1, 2014.

Governor Matt Mead submitted his proposed biennial budget on November 29th. The state’s standard budget has flattened over the last few years after a period of steep growth. According to a news release from the Governor’s Office, his recommended budget continues the flat spending trend, as stemming the tide of budget growth is a priority for the Governor. Included in the budget is modest funding for salary increases as well as funding for a statewide unified technology network. The WCCC’s request for $14.3 million to recalibrate the funding model was not included in the Governor’s budget recommendation.

University of Wyoming (UW) Outreach School Academic Coordinator Beverly Bell and I are updating the MOU we have with the UW. I have talked with University officials regarding the importance of a strong UW presence in northwest Wyoming and the bachelor degree programs needed in our area to meet workforce demands. (SP 1.2)

As the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) liaison for the Wyoming Community College Executive Council, I am working with NWC PTK Advisor and Assistant Professor of Psychology Eric Silk to plan the Wyoming Academic Team awards ceremony this spring. The PTK All-USA Academic Team program recognizes students throughout the state with exceptional scholarship, citizenship and service.

Local: I continue to commit time communicating with Big Horn Basin residents in various venues. I served as a guest on KPOW’s morning show with Scott and Russ on November 13th and as the speaker at the Cody Rotary Club on Thursday, December 5th. I have been appointed as a steering committee co-chair for the Voice of the Community Powell Economic Partnership (PEP) planning meetings. On November 14th, I met with the other steering committee co-chairs to review the results from the community visioning meetings. Planning meetings will continue after the first of the year. As an executive board member of PEP, I have also been involved in the executive director search process. (SP 3.2)

On November 12th, I had the opportunity to meet with the Big Horn Basin School Superintendents. Although I had previously met one-on-one with Powell Superintendent Kevin Mitchell and Cody Superintendent Ray Schulte, I had not yet met to discuss issues with the other superintendents. I was pleased with the level of discussion and look forward to more opportunities in the future. (SP 3.1)

On December 3rd, I attended my second Powell interagency meeting with key community leaders to discuss areas of mutual concern. I find these meetings informative and beneficial. (SP 3.1, 3.2)

Campus: In addition to one-on-one meetings with trustees, faculty, staff, and community members, I have studied contract timelines for future systematization consideration and have convened the FY ’15 Budget Committee. The first two Budget Committee meetings have focused on educating the committee on the budget categories, the funding formula, revenue sources, and prior years' expenditures. I have directed the committee to prioritize the Strategic Plan Goals in developing next year’s budget. Although we expect the budget to be relatively flat, we need to examine our revenue and plan accordingly to ensure the budget reflects our strategic goals. (SP 2.1, 2.2)

I have also convened a Facility Master Plan Steering Committee which held its first meeting with A & E Architects on December 3rd. In keeping with my commitment to shared governance, College Council has provided me with feedback from the campus community regarding a draft of our vehicle use procedure. My commitment to shared governance also includes meeting regularly with Student Senate President Quintin Brown, the constituent group presidents, as well as hosting a monthly all-employee meeting prior to the Board of Trustees meeting. (SP 2.1)

On November 22nd, the Emergency Management Team continued with emergency planning training by conducting tabletop exercises. The group is committed to continuing these exercises and adding to the variety and complexity in order to ensure that we will react appropriately and according to our plan in an emergency situation. In addition, fire drills are being conducted systematically throughout campus.

Although it is impossible to attend all of the numerous campus events each week, I had the honor of attending and speaking at the Foundation’s Scholarship Luncheon on November 6th, shared Thanksgiving Dinner with the Nursing Department over lunch on November 11th, and met with the Equine/Farrier Advisory Board on December 4th regarding facility needs. I had the opportunity to attend the 17th Annual Buffalo Feast on Thursday, November 14. My family and I attended the Empty Bowls event sponsored by the Art Department as a benefit for Loaves and Fishes the evening of November 19. The following day I traveled to Casper to attend the team dinner and coach of the year awards ceremony prior to the kickoff of the National Volleyball Tournament. The following day I watched our team win its first match of the tournament.

On November 19th I had the honor of speaking at our Facilities Assistant bi-annual training. I spoke about the importance of their role in accomplishing the goals of our strategic plan, and I shared with them a personal story of the impact a custodian had on my own undergraduate matriculation.

Our Annual Wassail Party was held on campus over lunch Wednesday, December 4th. The College Holiday Party was held Friday evening, December 6th, at the Fairgrounds. An ugly Christmas sweater contest is scheduled for December 18th. (SP 2.2)

The Vice President for Administrative Services position will be posted during the first week in January. Planning has begun for the Spring Semester In-Service on January 13-14 at which we will focus on student success (SP 1.1, 1.2).

Foundation: During the week of November 18, I worked with Development Coordinator Andrea Shipley to kick off the employee giving campaign culminating in an arm wrestling match on Friday, November 22nd, at the carillon at high noon. (SP 2.2)


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Talking about concurrent enrollment

Good afternoon everyone,

I wanted to share the following excerpt from a recent email I sent to the legislators in our service area.


I met recently with school superintendents in the college’s three-county service area, and it was no surprise when our conversation turned to concurrent enrollment. I'm pleased to report that we’re effectively working through issues on which NWC and area high schools have been at odds for some time. Our frank discussion included airing of both perspectives—superintendents explained their perceptions and needs, and I shared the college’s commitment to college-level instruction in order to ensure that students are prepared for the next level of instruction and that our Higher Learning Commission accreditation isn’t jeopardized. Thanks to mutual sharing of expectations, I’m delighted that the gap in understanding has closed considerably.

Obviously, NWC’s increased concurrent enrollment offerings have helped a great deal. Since NWC’s three-year pilot program started in 2008-09, the following impressive growth has been recorded.

Concurrent enrollment 2008-09 2012-13
Enrollment 21 452
Total credit hours available 5 172
Classes offered 2 52
Participating BHB high schools 2 8

In addition, we know that former concurrent enrollment students are later enrolling as full- or part-time credit students at Northwest College—112 in 2012-13, as opposed to 65 two years ago.

I'm committed to operating an effective concurrent enrollment program, one that is bolstered by continued collaboration and ongoing dialog with area school superintendents.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Good morning everyone.
As Thanksgiving approaches I find myself reflecting on all that I have to be grateful for this holiday season.

Much of it has to do with all of you. Thank you for graciously accepting me into the Northwest College family and for your patience as I navigate a new community, new policies, new state laws, new politics, etc.

My family and I are really enjoying it here. We are settling in and already feel like we are integrating into the community.

I look forward to celebrating holidays and milestones with you in the years to come. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

With gratitude,



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update from the president's desk

The following update is from my November report to the Board of Trustees. The numbers in parentheses refer to our strategic plan.
President’s Report

November 11, 2013


First 100 Days: During my interview, Board President Westerhold asked what I would plan to accomplish in my first 100 days if I was hired as NWC’s President. I replied that I would focus on the accreditation recommendations, shared governance, facilities master plan, and learning everyone’s name. Although I have not had the luxury of solely focusing on these items, I thought it appropriate to report on my progress, as October 25th marked my 100th day. I have appointed a steering committee for our 2017-18 HLC accreditation visit and identified employees for HLC reporting access. I have prioritized utilization of our strategic plan in campus decision-making and in developing next years’ budget. As well, I am working diligently to implement the tenants of our Shared Governance and Decision-Making Guide that has been posted on the college’s portal for access by all employees. Five responses to the RFP for the Facilities Master Plan have been received, and we will be reviewing proposals later this month. Although I have learned almost everyone’s name, I find that I do not necessarily call people by the correct name (yet).

Student Success: As the community college mission shifts nationally to include the importance of student success, organizations are conducting research to better understand factors that influence improvement in student success outcomes. In a recent study, the Aspen Institute and Achieving the Dream identified skills, attributes, and strategies necessary for community colleges to adapt and thrive within the constraints of increased pressure to deliver more degrees of higher quality and lower cost. The researchers found that “presidents must understand – and in many ways reflect – the mission, demographics and culture of the colleges they lead.” The report states that presidents must have a deep commitment to student access and success, take significant risks to advance student success including significant realignment of resources, create lasting change within the college, as well as develop external partnerships to access assets, expand economic development opportunities, and educate students in new, highly effective ways. (SP 1.1, 1.2)

State: The Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees hosted the third annual Summit on Community Colleges in Laramie on October 17th. Over 130 people attended from across the state, including NWC Trustees Larsen, Vogt and LaPlante, Mark Kitchen, Gerry Giraud, Sheldon Flom, Jeannie Hunt and myself. (SP 1.1)

 On October 18th, the Wyoming Community College Commission met on the University of Wyoming campus.  Commissioners voted to accept the Complete College Wyoming (CCW) white paper prepared by the CCW team as well as the Performance Funding white paper prepared by the community college presidents. The Commission also voted to adopt the goal of increasing the number of certificates and degrees by 5% per year (compounded) as per the CCW success goal. Definitions of the performance metrics will be further defined by an expanded sub-committee of the Complete College Wyoming group. I requested the Commissioners consider representation from Northwest College on the sub-committee and have appointed Steve Thulin as our representative. (SP 1.1, 2.1)

UW President Sternberg presented to the Commissioners regarding the importance of access and how traditional measures to predict student success in college are not necessarily accurate. President Sternberg and I have been communicating regularly regarding potential partnerships and ways we can work more closely together for the mutual benefit of both our institutions. (SP 1.2)

 One such partnership is with the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (BBCoW). On October 21st, President Sternberg and I met with representatives from the BBCoW to discuss summer academic opportunities utilizing the resources of our three institutions. (SP 1.2)

Local: Nursing Director Marneè Crawford and I met with Powell Valley Health Care leaders on October 14th and Doug McMillan, West Park Hospital CEO, on November 1st. Marneè and I visited with them about our Nursing program and the new Yellowstone Building. Following the meeting, Marneè gave them a tour of the facility where nursing instructors demonstrated the simulation equipment.
This month I launched a monthly communiqué to legislators to keep them informed of Northwest College’s needs, major developments, and accomplishments. I met with Hank Coe over lunch on October 15th to inform him of the emerging legislative agenda for our system of Wyoming community colleges.

 I participated as a panelist on educational quality and attainment at the October 22nd Forward Cody meeting and had the honor of being the guest speaker at the November 4th Cody Club meeting. I served as a steering committee co-chair for the Voice of the Community Powell Economic Partnership planning meetings the week of November 4th. As well, I continue to meet with various community members in Park County to discuss ideas for collaboration.

I attended Dick Wilder’s funeral in Cody to pay respects for this special alumnus who enrolled in the college’s first class in 1946. A longtime NWC Foundation Director, Mr. Wilder was deeply committed to NWC.

 Campus: I met with Dennis Quillen and Dave Plute on October 22nd where I received an overview of physical plant operations and the computerized control system. Bill Johnson gave me a tour of the welding shop on October 24th, and Kathy Crookshanks gave me a tour of the Cody Center on October 29th. I had the opportunity to attend Dave Barkan’s chemistry class and attended the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) induction ceremony on October 23rd. Carey Miller, Mark Kitchen, and I met October 24th to discuss the potential of a presidential blog.

 At the October 22nd College Council meeting, I requested a change to the meeting date to move the meeting closer to Trustee meetings. In keeping with my commitment to shared governance, I reviewed the vehicle procedures with members of the Council and asked them to provide me with questions and concerns from their constituent groups. My commitment to shared governance also includes meeting regularly with Student Senate President Quintin Brown.

 I attended my first Alumni Association Board of Directors meeting November 2nd followed by a reception at the home of Mark and Sandee Kitchen. On November 8th, I met with constituent group presidents and held an all-employee meeting to update faculty and staff on various issues including performance funding and Complete College Wyoming activities.

 Foundation: In addition to attending the October NWC Foundation Board of Directors meeting at Choice Aviation in Cody, Shelby and I continue to meet with potential donors for the Yellowstone Vista Campaign.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Commission meeting

Happy Friday everyone.

As many of you know, I am in Laramie for the WCCC meeting. This morning the Commissioners voted to accept the Complete College Wyoming white paper as well as the Performance Funding white paper. I appreciate those of you who took time to give me feedback on those documents.

The Commission also voted to adopt the goal of requiring 5% of our variable funding based on completion. Definitions of the performance metrics will be further defined by an expanded sub-committee of the Complete College Wyoming group. I requested the Commissioners consider representation from Northwest College on that sub-committee. Currently there is a dearth of faculty and classified staff representation on the CCW team.

Have a good weekend.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Update from the president's desk

Happy Wednesday everyone.

The information below is from my October report to the Trustees.  The numbers in parenthesis relate to the items in our strategic plan.

Here is a recent photo of my office with decorations donated by certain (ahem) faculty members:

Enjoy the rest of your day!

President’s Report
October 9, 2013

ACCT Leadership Congress: Cindy Cicci and I traveled to Seattle with Trustees Jim Vogt, Nada Larsen, and John Housel for the 2013 Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Leadership Congress on October 2-5. The theme of the conference was “Moving the Needle: Society Demands, Community Colleges Deliver.” We had the opportunity to hear keynote speaker Bill Gates and attend a wide variety of informative concurrent sessions. I am grateful that NWC’s Trustees are engaged with ACCT, and I appreciate Trustees Vogt, Larsen, and Housel for taking time to make the trip and participate in the conference.

State: The Community College Presidents, together with Wyoming Community College Commission (WCCC) Executive Director Jim Rose and Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees (WACCT) Executive Director Steve Bahmer, have had several discussions regarding performance funding in preparation for the October 18th Commission meeting in Laramie (SP 1.1). An outcome of these meetings is a whitepaper outlining the literature on performance funding and recommended actions. On September 23rd, Dr. Rose invited Presidents to join him for the budget meeting with Governor Mead and his staff in Cheyenne.  On October 11th, I met with Leah Bruscino and Bruce Morse from the Wyoming Business Council to discuss potential funding opportunities.

Local: Together with Vice President for College Relations Mark Kitchen and his wife, Sandee, my husband and I attended the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Patrons Ball. I had the opportunity to visit with  several current and former state legislators as well as meet current and past state officials including Governor Mead, Senator Enzi, and Senator Barrasso. In addition, I attended other events associated with Cody’s Rendezvous Royale.

I was invited to the Powell Economic Partnership executive board meeting September 20th and attended the Forward Cody board meeting the morning of September 24th (SP 3.2). I had lunch with Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Camara Clifton on September 30th and attended an interagency breakfast with Powell leaders on October 8th (SP 3.2). This month I met with Powell and Cody superintendents (SP 3.1), as well as business owners (SP 3.2) to discuss how we can work with them more closely to meet mutual goals. I had the opportunity to serve as the guest on Speak Your Piece with Bryce Cornatzer on KODI on September 19th and the Scott and Russ Show with Russ Graham on KPOW on October 9th. I was officially inducted as a member of the Powell Rotary Club and helped coordinate an Oktoberfest celebration on October 9th with the Red Lodge Rotary Club.

Campus: Kim Mills’ last day as Vice President was October 4th. I have asked him to stay on through October 25th to assist with finalizing the Yellowstone Building’s equipment and  furniture list that is required by the state. Sheldon Flom began as Interim Vice President for Administrative Services on October 7th. The Vice President for Administrative Services search will commence the first part of January.

Following the September Trustees meeting at which you set your expectations of me for this year, I merged the expectations into my annual operational plan. As part of my operational plan, the Timely Warning and Emergency Notification documents developed by our Emergency Response Taskforce were approved and implemented this month. These documents are needed to fulfill our federal campus security requirements. The steering committees for accreditation and the Facilities Master Plan have been appointed. As well, I have begun discussions with the Vice Presidents on the FY15 budget and on ways we will better tie our budget with the Strategic Plan. In my September 19th meeting with our auditor, we discussed methods in which the college President sets the tone for fiscal accountability on campus. (SP 2.1)

College Council met on September 24th. In addition to reviewing the Timely Warning and Emergency Notification documents, we brainstormed facilities reallocation ideas and discussed cyclical bidding of professional services contracts.  We also discussed ways we can improve the student account notification process. (SP 2.1, 2.2)

As you may know, our Aramark contract was scheduled to expire December 31, 2013. On September 25th, I met with Vice President Sean Fox, Aramark’s Food Services Director Ken Beebe, and Aramark Executives Shane Klaas and Kristin Helmink to request a contract extension through June 30, 2014. This accomplishes two things: it brings the contract in line with our fiscal year, and it allows time to conduct a thorough analysis and develop a campus-wide systematization of such contracts.

Hinckley Library Director Susan Richards and Professor of English Renee Dechert invited me to attend an ENGL 1010 class on September 30th. The topic was using Internet resources appropriately when conducting research. I learned how to use Google’s advanced search more effectively. On September 27th I hosted the international students for dinner at my home (SP 1.3) and gave a residence life presentation the evening of October 9th. I had the opportunity to tour the Equine Center on October 9th and have scheduled a tour of the Oliver Building (Welding Technology) later this month. Faculty Employment Policies Review Committee Chair Paul Escoto called the committee’s first meeting on September 24th. The committee briefed me on processes and suggested items that may need future consideration (SP 2.1). I met with constituent group presidents on October 11th and held an all-employee meeting later that afternoon (SP 2.1, 2.2). As part of my desire to have student involvement in campus governance, I have requested a weekly meeting with Student Senate President Quintin Brown and met with him October 9th (SP 2.1).

Foundation:  Foundation Executive Director Shelby Wetzel arranged for me to meet with various donors in a number of venues this month. We discussed gifts to the Yellowstone Vista Campaign, as well as continuation of scholarship funds. With some of our donors and potential donors in town for the Patrons Ball, I had an opportunity to visit with and get to know them.

Uncollected Debt Task Force:  I met with members of the Uncollected Debt Task Force on September 20th to discuss their report. I asked them to provide me with more in depth data collection and analysis by October 28th in order for me to report to you at your November meeting.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Greetings from Seattle

Good morning everyone.

I am attending the Association of Community College Trustees conference with Jim Vogt, John Housel, Nada Larson and Cindy Cicci. It is quite inspiring to be surrounded by 2,000 + people who are passionate about the community college mission and the success of our students.

Bill Gates was the keynote speaker last night. He spoke about technology (of course) and how it can help with advising, and customer relations. But he spent a good part of his presentation focused on classroom flipping/hybridization. I know many of our faculty are already doing this (How do I know you ask? - the first week of classes when Moodle was down was quite telling).

Mr. Gates talked about it as a new kind of learning and said that the gift for an instructor today is to help students "get it" in a rich and deep way. He also suggested that we find the best mooc's out there so that instructors can use their time and energy for enrichment, engagement, and trouble shooting with students. Food for thought....

Enjoy the rest of your week and have a good weekend.



Friday, September 13, 2013

Update from the President's Desk

Happy Friday everyone.

Below is the report I have submitted to the Trustees for their September meeting. The numbers in parentheses related to our strategic plan.

President’s Report
September 16, 2013

Federal: President Obama’s plan for higher education includes three primary components: paying for performance, promoting innovation and competition, and affordability. Much of the debate over these issues will take place within the context of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The HEA, last rewritten in 2008, expires at the end of this calendar year. Typically, it has taken several months to renew the act after it expires. Standardization and simplification are major themes along with the importance of helping students succeed while holding down costs. There appears to be some momentum to address the growing scrutiny of the perceived value of higher education relative to cost. The congressional subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training is exploring the question of whether the federal government should maintain its traditional focus on improving access to higher education or move toward a system that ties federal aid to student outcomes, job placement, and/or graduation rates. The following are some of the proposals receiving consideration. To address completion, one proposal includes giving colleges a bonus based on the number of Pell graduates. A portion of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants may be used to promote accelerated degree paths and credentials. Similar to the President’s plan, adopting innovations and best practices to improve quality and outcomes is being discussed.

State: On September 5, I attended a conference call meeting with the Wyoming community college presidents to discuss performance-based funding metrics. We met again on September 10th to review funding scenarios and the broader topic of measuring performance. The presidents then met with WCCC Executive Director Jim Rose on the morning of September 16th. Afterward, Dr. Rose joined a meeting with the presidents and University of Wyoming President Robert Sternberg to discuss areas of mutual concern including partnerships, transfer and our legislative agenda. The next Wyoming Community College Commission meeting is scheduled to be held on October 18th following the Wyoming Community College Summit in Laramie.

Local: As you know, after your August 12th meeting in Meeteetse, Vice President Kitchen arranged a welcome reception hosted at the Meeteetse Museums. Vice President Kitchen also arranged appointments for me to meet with area legislators and key community members in Thermopolis, Worland, and Lovell. As well, I have been meeting with various community leaders in Powell including Park County School District #1 Superintendent Kevin Mitchell and Powell Valley Health Care CEO Bill Patten. (SP 3.1, SP 3.2*)

I had the opportunity to present to the Powell Kiwanis Club on August 22nd and the Red Lodge Rotary club on September 12th. Dennis Davis interviewed me for a segment on NWC-TV on August 20th. I have recently participated in two local radio interviews—KODI in Cody on August 27th and KPOW September 5th. (SP 3.1, SP 3.2)

I attended a West Park Hospital Foundation benefit dinner at the home of Barron and Tami Collier as the guest of Dick and Jeanne Nelson the evening of August 30th. On September 9th I traveled to Cody to attend the Cody Chamber of Commerce (“Cody Club”) lunch meeting. I have been attending Powell Rotary Club meetings and expect to have my membership transferred to the Powell club soon. (SP 3.2)

Campus: As you know, Vice President Kim Mills announced his retirement in February. His last day as VP will be October 4th. I appreciate that he graciously agreed to stay on through the fall to assist me with my transition. I have appointed Sheldon Flom to serve as interim VP for Administrative Services until the position is filled. The VPAS search will commence the first part of January.

With all the activity that the beginning of the semester brings, I had the opportunity to attend various athletic events and be involved in several activities including: Kick-off Weekend activities, breakfast with the RAs, new faculty orientation, the international student BBQ, orientation for athletes, the Rodeo Team meeting, and the first meeting of the Block and Bridle Club. I attended open houses for the Bookstore and Advising Center. As well, I hosted lunch for students and employees at our annual Club Fair on September 4th.
On August 21st I presented my first annual State of the College Address during our opening meetings and hosted an all-employee picnic at the fairgrounds that evening (SP 2.2). I presented at the Academic Affairs Council retreat on August 29th and have had the opportunity to tour our grounds, the Hinckley Library, Nursing Department, and the Paul Stock Agriculture Pavilion, as well as participate in a demonstration of our firearms simulator.

As part of my operational plan, I have prioritized implementing emergency operations planning. On August 14 and September 3, Emergency Operations Plan training was held with a group of campus leaders. Vice President Sean Fox and Campus Security Coordinator Lee Blackmore are reviewing the plan to suggest necessary updates and changes. Vice President Fox will be meeting regularly with the Emergency Response Task Force over the next several months to develop emergency procedures, implement components of the plan, and organize various table top exercises and drills.

On August 27th I attended the College Council meeting where we discussed shared governance, and I asked for their feedback on the VP search (SP 2.1). On September 13th, I met with the constituent group presidents to get their feedback, update them on various issues, and share ideas (SP 2.1, 2.2).

Foundation: On September 8th, I attended the Farm to Table Feast to benefit our new certificate program in sustainable and alternative agriculture. NWC Foundation Executive Director Shelby Wetzel and I have been meeting with potential donors to discuss the Yellowstone Vista Campaign.

Uncollected Debt Task Force: I am in the process of reviewing the report from the Uncollected Debt Task Force that I received on September 5th. As you know, Interim President Mark Kitchen commissioned this task force on July 1st to study the concerns you expressed during the June trustee meeting.

Contract Systematization: At the August trustee meeting we discussed reviewing various college contracts’ duration and renewal processes. I have directed Vice President Mills to prepare a spreadsheet for me to analyze the current status of our various contracts. I plan to discuss this topic at our next College Council meeting.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Praise for NWC Faculty and Staff

I received a letter today that could have been written about any Northwest College employee. It goes to show that hard work and commitment to students (past and present) makes a difference.

Here is an excerpt:

“Dear Dr. Hicswa,

I am writing this letter to you to share how much I appreciate your faculty and staff going the extra mile to help out a former student in a time of need. They did not have to do anything, but instead were more than kind in what they did. NWC is more than an institution but is also a community. Being part of a community means that we support one another and are willing to be there when needed. You should be proud to know that your faculty and staff understand the importance of being part of this community. I know I am thankful and my family is as well.”

Thank you to the NWC faculty and staff for they do!



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Focusing on Student Success

The following is an excerpt from Northwest College President Stefani Hicswa’s State of the College Address to NWC employees August 21, 2013.

Community colleges nationwide are currently experiencing the highest expectations and the greatest challenges in our history. Sustaining our local and national economies, as well as maintaining strong communities with engaged citizens, imposes unprecedented urgency on us to produce more successful graduates.

There is emerging evidence regarding promising practices and strategies associated with student success. Data from the Center for Community College Student Engagement, the Lumina Foundation and Columbia University’s Community College Research Center show that no matter what program or practice colleges implement, it is likely to have a greater impact if its design incorporates some of the following basic principles.

A strong start: Focusing attention on the front door of the college is a smart investment. We must ensure that students’ earliest contacts and first few weeks incorporate experiences that will foster personal connections and enhance their chances of success.

Clear, coherent pathways: The many choices and options students face as they navigate through college systems can create confusion and poor use of limited financial resources and time. Creating pathways that help students move through an engaging collegiate experience improves student success.

Integrated support: One of the most important resources a college has is time. A large part of improving success involves effectively connecting with students where they are most likely to be–in the classroom. Faculty need to continually think about the precious minutes they have with students. This means building support, such as skills development and supplemental instruction, into coursework rather than referring students to services that are separate from the learning experience of a particular class.

High expectations: Students do their best when the bar is high, but within reach. Setting a high standard and then giving students necessary help such as academic planning, academic support and access to financial resources makes high standards attainable.

Design for scale: Bringing practices to scale requires a long-term commitment as well as significant political, financial and human capital. In addition to allocating – and reallocating – available funding, college presidents must continually involve faculty, staff and students in decision making.

Professional development: Improving student success requires faculty and staff not only to re-conceptualize their roles but also to work differently. This means professional development is necessary for all college employees and trustees.

Although none of these concepts is new, the body of evidence regarding these principles continues to grow. Longtime student success researcher George Kuh suggests that colleges re-channel, stop doing some things and place less emphasis on others in order to implement the practices that really matter for students. Kay McClenny, the Director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement, suggests that we evaluate our college’s data in regard to these practices and use this information to prompt courageous conversations about what outcomes are most important for our continued success.

Our students need Northwest College to help prepare them for the ever-changing workforce demands as never before in our 67-year history.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Update from the President's Desk

Good evening everyone,

Before all the busyness and excitement of the first week of classes begins, I thought I would send a quick update of what has been happening on my end.

I traveled to Casper August 1-2 for a planning session with the Wyoming Community College presidents where we discussed Wyoming’s Complete College America goals, the upcoming legislative session, and the Wyoming Community College Commission’s strategic plan. The presidents and I spent a great deal of time discussing how student success should be defined for our students. We decided that the components include enrollment, retention, completion, and job placement. Over the coming months, you will be hearing more about this issue.

In order to make connections in the community, I have been attending Rotary Club meetings on Wednesdays. I will be transferring my membership in Miles City to the Powell Club. On August 5th, I attended a Forward Cody meeting, which is Cody’s Chamber of Commerce. The speaker briefed us on the impacts of Affordable Care Act. That evening I hosted our volleyball team at my home for dinner. 

The Vice Presidents and I met off campus August 7-8 to discuss strategic and operational planning.

The Trustee meeting was held on August 12 in Meeteetse. At the meeting, in addition to hearing regular reports the board discussed the line of credit with the foundation for the Yellowstone building and creating a Foundation Resource Collaboration Group to create a more formalized mechanism to identify meaningful projects for donors that fit within the college’s strategic goals for the future. Following the meeting a welcome reception was held at the museum.

I had the pleasure of welcoming in the RA’s to campus August 13th. On August 14th, I spent the morning with our emergency operations planning committee and the consultants with whom we have been working to finalize our campus Emergency Operations Plan.

Last Thursday, August 15, the Trustees held a summer retreat with facilitators Drs. Cindra Smith and Walt Packard. They discussed policy governance, board roles, key issues for the college, and their expectations of me as your new president.

I have also been meeting with various individuals, getting tours, and receiving briefings on upcoming events, issues, and contract deadlines.

This week, in addition to our opening day events, I get to welcome many different student groups and organizations to campus. This is my favorite time of the year. I love the excitement and sense of hope a new school year brings.

On a personal note, on August 7th my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we went to the Beartooths for our first overnight backpacking trip as a family. We started at Island Lake and hiked into Becker Lake. On the way home we stopped at the Clay Butte Fire Lookout Tower.

Many of you have asked how we are settling in. The outdoor recreational opportunities here are so great, we can’t seem to prioritize unpacking. I figure there will be time for that on cold winter days before ski season is in full swing.

Have a great week!


Monday, July 29, 2013

Update from the President's Desk

Good morning,

It has been a busy last couple of weeks.

As you know, my first week as NWC president started out with a brunch so that I could meet as many of you as possible, followed by a Trustee meeting that evening. I spent time with Tracy Gasaway going over all of the employment and benefits paperwork. We are really lucky to have such a great benefits package.  The Bookstore contract with Follett was finalized and I signed off. I have been meeting with legislators and key community members in Powell and Cody. I have attended various meetings including College Council and met individually with all of my direct reports and others on various issues.

My family and I went up to the Field Station to see Becky and Scott on the 19th. We also took in the Park County Fair and ate our share of funnel cakes last week. I had the opportunity to tour our rodeo facility with Del and Sean and attend my first Foundation Board meeting.  On Saturday, I had the opportunity to ride in Dave Brown's beautiful 1968 Corvette to represent Northwest College in the parade with three of our volleyball athletes. It was fun to see so many of NWC faculty and staff along the parade route.

Many of you have asked about my family. I have two redheaded boys, Kalin is 8 (he told me he is actually 8 and 5/6ths) and will be in third grade; Keegan is 7 and will be in second grade. They will be attending Westside School. My husband's name is Scott. He is a consulting forester and installs ceramic tile on the side when he is not hunting and fishing. Many of you already know that I grew up in Dillon, MT which is just on the other side of West Yellowstone.  My mom and her husband still live there as well as two of my three brothers.

Because Powell is very similar both Dillon and Miles City, my family and I feel very much at home here. You will here me say this over and over -  I was very intentional about wanting to live in Powell and to serve Northwest College as your president. I am really happy that the timing worked out for me to be here at this time in the history of the college.

Enjoy what is left of the summer. It is going fast!


Commission Meeting

Good morning everybody,

Last Thursday and Friday Jim Vogt, Carolyn Danko, Sheldon Flom and I traveled to Torrington for the Wyoming Community College Commission meeting.

The Commissioners passed the 2015-2016 Standard and Zero-Base Budgets. They also passed the Exception Requests and agreed to recalibrate the base enrollment period to academic years 2009-2010. Recalibration will be every 4 years and result in higher on-going funding without needing to request enrollment funding each year.

Although the Commissioners feel very strongly about the importance of performance-based funding, they eliminated language in the exception request regarding program completion metrics.

Have a happy Monday.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Warm Welcome

Good afternoon everyone.

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the warm welcome I have received during this first week as president of Northwest College. Thank you to those of you who attended the reception Monday morning and thank you for stopping in to say hi and to introduce yourselves. I appreciate it.

I am looking forward to serving the Big Horn Basin in my new role as the president of Northwest College.

Stefani Gray Hicswa, Ph.D.
Northwest College
231 W. 6th St.
Powell, WY 82435 USA
(307) 754-6200
Your future, our focus