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,         


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.


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!


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.


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. 


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.


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.



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