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