Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 Patron's Ball

As part of the Rendezvous Royale week in Cody, I had the opportunity to attend the Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale with art student Gabriela Rodriguez as the guest of Dick and Jeanie Nelson. One of the featured artists was Associate Professor of Art John Giarrizzo. The highlight of the evening was Gabriela teaching me about the various methods used by the show's featured artists.
 
  
Red Dessert by John Giarrizzo
 
The week long celebration of the arts in Cody was culminated with the Patron's Ball on Saturday at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West which I attended with NWC Foundation Executive Director Shelby Wetzel and Vice President for College Relations Mark Kitchen.  
 
 
Shelby Wetzel, Mark Kitchen, Stefani Hicswa, Sandee Kitchen
 


   with State Farm Agent Jen Talich                                with former Senator Al Simpson

Friday, September 26, 2014

Garbology 101

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the NWC Anthropology Department's fourth annual garbology project. Many thanks to Associate Professor Greg Smith for providing the data below: 


Participating students gained practical experience in using the scientific method and a heightened awareness of the life-cycle of garbage. As you can see, it was quite a visceral experience. A fortuitous by-product is that the project functions as a major campus publicity campaign for anthropology and recycling.


The project involves conducting yearly waste stream audits on campus and delineating how much recyclable material is being thrown away with the regular garbage (see that cardboard coffee cup sleeve among the pizza? Yes, that really is pizza).

The first three garbology studies documented a slight increase in campus recycling over time and the results of the fourth are still pending. Averaging the data from the first three sessions results in some sobering statistics: between 25-35% of all campus garbage by weight could have been recycled.

Assuming that the garbage they have looked at is representative of an average day on campus, we throw some 828 recyclable plastic containers into the trash every day. Projected over an entire school year, NWC throws over 170,000 plastic containers into the trash!

Food for thought...(ok, maybe that is not the best idiom given the visuals above, but you get what I am saying).

Have a good weekend.
Stefani

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shoshone Irrigation District



Shake
Rattle
and Roll!
Last week I had the opportunity to tour the Shoshone Irrigation District with Beryl Churchill. What a treat for this former farmer!

Not only did I learn about the structure and history of the canal system, but also I learned the history of the Churchill family homestead. The quality production agriculture surrounding the NWC campus is the result of years of TLC by the Churchills. It was great to spend the morning with Beryl. The best part...she taught me how to set a siphon tube!
I have been watching my neighbor Perry Fisher from my kitchen window all summer but hadn't got up the courage to ask him to teach me because I figured he would probably put me to work. Thanks Beryl!!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Legislative Update


Below is an excerpt from a recent update I sent to our Big Horn Basin Legislators with a link to a video interview with Professor Allan Childs who was selected by the Wyoming Department of Education for the Post-secondary STEM Educator of the Year Award. Congratulations Allan!

Dear Big Horn Basin Legislators,         

CLASSES STARTED MONDAY

The campus is experiencing excitement with the start of fall semester classes. Reuniting with returning students and greeting first-time students is always such a pleasure. While enrollment dust has far from settled, we anticipate a decline of about 6%—a continuing response to a stronger economy after we saw an unheard-of enrollment spike of nearly 20% in fall 2009 when the economy soured. I’ve mentioned this dichotomy to you before: Community colleges experience increased enrollment in economic downturns (usually, with no additional funding to accommodate it, or worse, when budget cuts are imposed) and decreased enrollment when the economy brightens (usually, with no ability to take advantage of the state’s general fund revenue growth). While we’ve come to expect these dichotomous predicaments, it’s nonetheless troubling. We’re hopeful that review of the community colleges’ current funding formula will yield a new model that addresses this dilemma.


NEW YELLOWSTONE BUILDING IS COMPLETE!

Construction of our new Yellowstone Building is “substantially complete,” and we now have the keys to this beautiful and functional instructional facility. We’re so proud to add it to our campus. To think that it was completed in 14 months is truly amazing! Because all the technology pieces weren’t completely in place and there wasn’t time to train faculty on their use, we’re phasing in occupancy. Our Nursing program was fully moved in for the first day of classes. Students and faculty in all other programs moving to the new space—Criminal Justice, Communication, Social Science and Education—will occupy the building September 22. Mark your calendars for a Dedication/Open House, including tours, on Tuesday, October 7, at 4 p.m. Hope to see you then!


STRONG STUDENT RETENTION

Recent research confirms that students who participate in first-year experience programs demonstrate more positive relationships with faculty, greater knowledge and use of campus resources, more involvement in campus activities, and better time-management skills than their non-participating peers.  Our fall-to-spring retention rate for students enrolled in freshman seminars was 91%. It’s definitely the right approach, and I’m proud of those students and the faculty and staff who helped lead them to persevere.


STRONG EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION

I’m also proud to report that Northwest College employee responses to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For employment satisfaction survey show a 23% increase in satisfaction with shared governance from 2012 to 2014 and 25% improvement in satisfaction with senior leadership at the college. 

ANNUAL REPORT

Last year was filled with many accomplishments. Evidence of our progress can be found in our 2013-14 Annual Report. While it’s impossible to list all accomplishments, the report demonstrates that we’re getting things done and moving forward with confidence and a sense of purpose.

KUDOS

Statewide award: Dr. Allan Childs, Professor of Chemistry and Mathematics, was selected by the Wyoming Department of Education for the Post-secondary STEM Educator of the Year Award. The honor was noted at the "Roadmap to STEM" Conference earlier this month. Allan has taught chemistry at NWC for nearly 30 years. You’ll find a brief video interview of Allan here.

Successful nurses: Last year’s Registered Nursing student graduates achieved a 93% pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination.

 Sincerely,

Stefani

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NWC Accomplishments

I received the nicest note from Ruby Hopkin the other day. Her kind words meant so much that I want to share her sentiments with you.

"It was with profound interest that I read the [NWC] statistics quoted in the Powell Tribune. In 1946 I enrolled as one of the first students at Northwest Center of the University of Wyoming. Having just graduated from high school in Powell, it was a real blessing to have the opportunity to attend college here...I couldn't have visualized what NWC has become and I'm so proud of the accomplishments of those involved through the years. I sincerely wish for continued success for you and everyone at this great school."


Stefani

Friday, September 5, 2014

Kick off Weekend

The following is an excerpt from my second annual fall State-of-the-College address plus photos from Kickoff Weekend:

Think about where Northwest College was a year ago, where we are now and the potential we have for the future. Imagine where we will be 10 years from now if we continue on this trajectory! It's pride that can take us on that trajectory, and we have already started that process. I see more pride on campus than when I arrived a year ago.

I am proud to report that employee responses to the Chronicle of Higher Education's Great Colleges to Work For employment satisfaction survey show a 23% increase in satisfaction with shared governance and 25% improvement in satisfaction with senior leadership since 2012.There are many reasons why the climate has improved on campus. We accomplished a great deal in the last year.

The evidence can be found in our 2013-14 Annual Report. I have a great deal of pride in the accomplishments highlighted in the report. Although it's impossible to list all the things we accomplished last year, our annual report demonstrates that we are getting things done. The annual report is on our website at nwc.edu/report. Check it out!

Another point of pride for our campus community is our new alumni magazine. I'm really excited about the new format of our alumni publication. Projecting the excellence of our college makes a strong statement to our alumni and donor audiences. Kudos to College Relations, Printing Services and NWC Foundation personnel for producing this high-class publication.

We're making substantial progress implementing high-impact practices that research shows make the most difference in community college student completion. Pride in the student experience is the reason we are here.

I am proud of the Summer Bridge Math program for NWC-bound high school graduates recently taught by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Don Anderson. Research shows that these types of courses minimize the number of college courses students need to take.

Student success research clearly demonstrates that directed advising shows students how each course brings them closer to the certificate or degree they seek. Last year our Academic & Career Advising Center logged 922 student consultations.

Recent research confirms that students who participate in first-year experience programs demonstrate more positive relationships with faculty, greater knowledge and use of campus resources, more involvement in campus activities, and better time-management skills than their non-participating peers. Last year's fall-to-spring retention rate for NWC students enrolled in freshman seminars was 91%. I'm proud of those students and the faculty and staff who helped them succeed.

Likewise, I'm proud that NWC Foundation staff and the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office have partnered to develop a Higher Education Resource Opportunity (HERO) grant to provide emergency funds to help at-risk students. In doing so, they have also begun considering ways to maximize scholarship funding. Nonetheless, we MUST do more to heed the emerging promising practices and strategies that are associated with student success. Recent proliferation of student success research demonstrates that we have to be much more directive because too many options tend to overwhelm and hinder the success of today's community college students.

When you believe the purpose of your institution is to make students better through pride, you take risks. We will take risks to implement best practices because we have determined it's the best practice for our students. We will NOT compromise our academic integrity, rigor or standards. We will value innovation and creativity and seek solutions to problems in new and collaborative ways. We will make strategic shifts to move our focus from striving to be better by doing more, to BEING better by doing things differently. We will continue to hire high-quality, qualified faculty and staff. And finally, we will continue to serve our citizenry as intended by the referendum which established us as a comprehensive community college in 1953. We were chartered to serve our community and support our citizens in achieving their dreams.

To close, I will leave you with one of my favorite Goethe quotes: "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Begin it now!"

Begin it with Northwest College pride.
Have a great weekend.

Stefani