Monday, February 3, 2014

Update from the president's desk

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

February 2013

National: A recent article in the Washington Post outlined new measures that colleges are taking to get more students from poor families into college. On January 16th, President and Mrs. Obama held a higher education summit with educators from across the country. Participating colleges and organizations were asked to pledge new initiatives to promote college opportunity for low- income students. One of the new initiatives from the College Board includes waivers for students who take the SAT to be able to apply to four colleges free of charge.

Federal TRiO programs, founded by the Johnson administration's War on Poverty to assist low-income and first-generation students enter and succeed in college, are an important component of promoting college opportunity. Northwest College is served by TRiO through our Student Support Services grant. As well, we are served by the University of Wyoming's Educational Opportunity Center. Although not technically a TRiO program, GEAR UP serves similar students, focusing on assisting high school students get into college. (SP 1.1, 1.2, 3.2)

State: WCCC Executive Director Jim Rose met with the Wyoming Community College Presidents on Monday, January 20th, in Cheyenne to discuss data warehouse and data collection software needs across the seven community colleges.

Following this meeting, we attended the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee hearing where community colleges were called back to discuss our $14.3 million enrollment recalibration request. Committee members asked questions about anticipated future enrollment trends, online enrollment growth, and resulting potential cost savings, as well as what proportion of the increase, if funded, would go toward salaries.

In preparation for the upcoming legislative session, Mark Kitchen and I have met individually with our Big Horn Basin legislators to discuss the community college funding requests and answer any questions they may have. The meetings have been positive, and I am optimistic going into the session.

Local: I continue to participate in the community vision building project with the Powell Economic Partnership (SP 3.1). Forward Cody Executive Director James Klessens and I met January 23rd to discuss the work he is doing with Cody Labs and our partnership to provide training for them (SP 3.1). I was invited to speak at the University of Wyoming Ag Advisory Board meeting January 23rd about opportunities for our two institutions to work more closely together on agriculture-related partnerships (SP 1.2).

Campus: We kicked off spring semester with In-service workshops for faculty and staff on January 13th and 14th. During Convocation on the 14th, I delivered my second State of the College address. During my time with faculty and staff, I summarized the collaborative work that had been accomplished campus-wide during fall semester to identify and categorize “Big Rocks” on campus, a metaphor for campus priorities. The priorities are as follows:

         Pride in...
                  Student Experience
                  Campus Community
                  Fiscal Integrity

I am very pleased with the thoughtfulness that went into this process and the resulting open, candid conversations. We will roll these priorities into our future strategic planning processes. (SP 2.1, 2.2)

Also on January 14th, New Student Orientation was held for a small group of students starting spring semester. (SP 3.1, 3.2)

Representatives from A&E Architects were on campus January 16th and 17th to continue their work with faculty and staff on the Facilities Master Plan. They held a session specifically for Trustees at 4:30 p.m. on January 16th. They will be back on campus February 4th and 5th and will hold a public meeting for district stakeholders, including Trustees, on Tuesday, February 4th, at 6:30 p.m. in FAB 70. (SP 2.2)

The Budget Committee has started meeting weekly to begin working on specifics of the budget development process. As is typical for the start of the semester, I met with individual students and staff regarding various issues. I also met with constituent group presidents and held an all-employee meeting on January 31st. (SP 2.1, 2.2)

Foundation: Foundation Executive Director Shelby Wetzel and I traveled to New York January 27-29 to meet with potential donors for the Yellowstone Building. The meetings went well. While we were there, we also met with alumni in the area. On February 1st I had the opportunity to attend my first Rodeo Gala.




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