Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

What's in the box? Maybe it's a head...
Mu ha ha ha ha!!  

Trick or Treat

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Breaking in the Yellowstone Building

Last week we had the pleasure of breaking in our new building at two fantastic events: the Yellowstone Building Dedication and Open House on Tuesday and the Foundation Gala on Saturday night.

Below are excerpted comments from both events and some photos:

We had a number of funding partners to make this project possible. The State of Wyoming invested approximately $9 million. This is the first time we've received state resources for a construction project at Northwest College and we are thankful to the Wyoming Legislature.

The college’s trustees courageously tapped into reserves to put forth $2 million. Our students were also part of the equation with the addition of a $5 per credit hour fee.

The NWC Foundation raised over $900,000 in private funds. I'm deeply grateful to the NWC Foundation and our donors for their tremendous support of students and the enhancement of academics at Northwest College.

I appreciate the time, energy and generosity of our construction partners, the State Construction Division, Sletten Construction, and CTA Architects. As well I am thankful for NWC employees who worked tirelessly on this project (you know who you are).

The building’s importance to the college, its programs, faculty and students cannot be overstated.

with former NWC President SinClair Orendorff

with a (fake) cigar in my hand

Update from the President's Desk

Below is a copy of a recent report I submitted to the Board of Trustees:


As you may recall, I was recently named to the Higher Education Research and Development Institute (HERDI) national advisory board. I will be attending its semi-annual meeting in Chicago, IL October 20-22, 2014 prior to the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) meeting October 23-25, 2014.

On November 15, 2014, I will be facilitating a session at the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) CEO retreat in Stevensville, MD.


On September 24 I attended an Executive Council meeting in Casper with Jim Rose, Executive Director of the Wyoming Community College Commission and the other Wyoming community college presidents. We discussed performance objectives and our legislative agenda.

The University of Wyoming brought a group of their new faculty accompanied by President Dick McGinity, Vice President for Student Affairs Sara Axelson, and Vice president for Government and Community Affairs, Chris Boswell to campus on October 3rd. Vice President Kitchen gave them a campus tour and we hosted a luncheon for them attended by our faculty members in the lobby of the Science Math Building. UW hosted a dinner that evening held in the Yellowstone Building for legislators and Powell community leaders. I am pleased with President McGinity’s commitment to address transfer and articulation issues.

I had the opportunity to serve as a panelist at the 4th Annual Summit on Community Colleges on October 9, 2014, in Laramie, WY. The panel focused on defining student success. Other panelists included an industry representative, a student, a Wyoming Community College Commissioner and a legislator. (SP1.1) One of the keynote speakers at the Summit was Kay McClenney, former Executive Director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE). I worked for her as a research assistant in the Center when I was a graduate student at UT Austin.


With the end of summer has come numerous meetings and community events in Powell and Cody that I have participated including the Buffalo Bill Art Show which I attended with art major Gabriela Rodriguez and the Patrons Ball which I attended with Shelby Wetzel.

I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the regional Soropitmist meeting on Sunday, September 28. I spoke to their theme, “Leading from the Heart.”


In addition to working on the enrollment data report and addressing current and future facility needs, my campus focus this month has been on studying campus operational efficiencies and policy.

Foundation Executive Director Shelby Wetzel and I continue to strategize ways to maximize our fundraising efforts to meet college needs.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In your face Heart Mountain!

I am the kind of person who looks at the top of a mountain and wonders what the view is like from the top, if there is a trail, and if climbing gear is necessary to get there. As you might imagine, I have looked at Heart Mountain every day since I moved here.  
View of Heart Mountain from my front porch

On Saturday, my family and I finally hiked to the top of Heart Mountain with friends - ascending 2500 feet in a few hours. Upon reaching the summit my youngest son put his arms in the air and yelled, "In your face Heart Mountain!"  He immediately turned and started the decent.

View from the top of Heart Mountain looking West

Friday, October 3, 2014

Legislative Update

As you can see from the photo below, I am getting excited for the Foundation Gala next Saturday October 11th. It will be the first big event  in the Yellowstone Building following the Dedication and Open House on Tuesday, October 7th.

"So we beat on...borne back ceaselessly into the past" F. Scott Fitzgerald

Below is a recent update I sent to our area legislators. Have a good weekend!

Dear Big Horn Basin Legislators,          


I hope you’ll be able to join us at the Dedication and Open House for our new Yellowstone Building Tuesday, October 7, at 4 p.m. We’re anxious to show off this beautiful and functional new instructional building. It would never have happened were it not for generous legislative funding that provided just over 60% of construction costs. It was the first capital construction appropriation NWC has ever received from the state’s general fund. We’ll be forever grateful. As you know from my message last month, Nursing students and faculty were fully moved in for the first day of classes August 25; all other programs—Criminal Justice, Communication, Social Science and Education—occupied the building September 22. 


It appears that our earlier enrollment estimates of an approximate 6% decline were accurate. This dip in numbers is a continuing response to a stronger economy after its weakening in fall 2009 produced an enrollment spike of nearly 20%. The good news is that during the 2009-10 year we worked very hard to accommodate the huge enrollment increase without adding faculty and staff. That puts us in a strong position as our enrollment returns to traditional levels.


A pilot Summer Bridge Program in mathematics attracted 12 student participants in a week-long, intensive math instruction session last month on campus. Designed to help NWC-bound students with math deficiencies prepare for college-level math courses, the program also included introduction to college services and procedures as well as on- and off-campus activities like a rafting trip. A Northwest College Foundation grant covered all students’ expenses for the entire week, including residence halls and food service. I’m pleased to tell you that five of the participants achieved a level of proficiency allowing them to enroll in college-level math this fall. In our ongoing efforts to help students succeed, that’s great news! 


Thanks to NWC Foundation underwriting, a new initiative implemented this fall is helping students who face emergency situations. Our new Higher Education Resource Opportunity (HERO) grant helps students with limited financial resources deal with unexpected financial challenges—loss of a job, medical issues or inability to afford child care—that may jeopardize their ability to succeed academically or threaten their continued enrollment. This program is but one initiative in place to retain students. Again, student success is our constant focus.


I’m excited to serve as a panelist at the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees’ Fourth Annual Community College Summit October 9 in Laramie. The panel will focus on defining student success. Other panelists include an industry representative, a student, a Wyoming Community College Commissioner and a Legislator.


Ag program ranking: Northwest College’s Ag program ranks 27th in the nation in associate degree production, according to Community College Week. NWC bested 73 other two-year institutions that made it into the top 100 community colleges in the Agriculture, Agricultural Operations and Related Sciences category.

National Player of the Week:  Freshman Volleyball Team standout Aleksandra Djordjevic from Serbia was named NJCAA National Player of the Week. This marks the third consecutive season NWC has had an NJCAA National Player of the Week and the fourth in the last three seasons.

 Have a good weekend!                    


Stefani Hicswa, Ph.D.