Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bring on your #FearTheRed face

This is a big week for Northwest College athletics. Our wrestling team is competing at nationals Friday and Saturday, and our men’s basketball team is hosting the first round leading to the Region IX Championships. If we beat Little Big Horn College on our home court Saturday afternoon, we’ll host the rest of the Region IX Championship next week.

Let's stage a RedOut to show our support! Join me in wearing your favorite Trapper red to campus tomorrow (Friday) and also to the 1 p.m. game Saturday in Cabre Gym. If you didn’t get your official red NWC shirt yet, stop by the College Relations Office and ask MaryLou Davis for one.

You might even get caught on camera during the day, so get your #FearTheRed face on.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More student engagement stories

Great stories keep coming in about our 30 day challenge.

Have you heard about the “Library Lollipops"? For the past three years, librarians have randomly handed out Library Lollipops to students who attend research sessions scheduled by faculty. One ENGLISH 1010 student said the paper on his lollipop (Tootsie Pop) included the symbol of the Indian and the star.  That meant if he took the wrapper to the local store where he bought the lollipop, they would give him another one free. The librarian said she would honor the tradition. Sure enough, a student showed up at the library reference desk this spring with his wrapper — a year after receiving it. He didn’t think the librarian would remember the promise, but she did. The student brought a friend (who was a new student) along to meet the librarians when he presented his wrapper. The friend got a lollipop too. 

One staffer told me she encountered a young man in the hall one day who had bright lime on his shirt and his shoes. When she complimented him on his coordinating colors, he was obviously pleased and launched into his personal philosophy about building one’s wardrobe (apparently, the crux is to stick with neutral blacks and grays but always add spots of bright colors). It was an animated and unexpected response, but it seemed to really charge up the student. 

Even though the 30-day challenge is officially over, it sounds like everyone is still making connections with students. That is really what it is all about isn't it? I know you are making a difference in their lives and I appreciate all of your hard work every day to make it happen.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Proud Hockey Mom

If you had told me that I would grow up to be a hockey mom I would have laughed in disbelief. But alas, 'tis my fate. I guess that is what happens when you have two energetic redheaded boys! 
My family has spent much of the winter at the Riley Arena in Cody with the Park County Youth Hockey association. I am quite surprised at how much I have come to enjoy it. I know that a big part of it is the camaraderie among hockey parents, especially those of us commuting from Powell. We have developed wonderful friendships spending time together while watching our kids play.
Last weekend we were neither on the road for hockey nor in Cody, so we took the opportunity to head to Red Lodge Mountain. Here is the view from the Midway Chalet. 
I will be in Cody this weekend helping with the Wyoming State Squirt Tournament. Feel free to stop by and I will sell you a t-shirt.
Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

We made a difference

The last 30 days at Northwest College have made a difference in our students’ lives. The rigors of engaging their minds and their bodies in higher learning has helped them grow. But there’s another difference. I believe many of our students feel more comfortable with themselves, more connected to NWC and to their academic goals, thanks to staff members who reached out to them this past month.

The challenge stories you’ve shared with me only make me want to hear more. So much so, I’ve decided to find a way to facilitate storytelling at Northwest. Our student experiences are inspirational. We need to celebrate them. You’ll hear more about this idea as it develops later this semester.

Until then, here are a couple of stories that came out of the 30-day Student Engagement Challenge. If they make you think of your experiences, please share them with me.

Most of you probably know Renee Reel, an online adjunct instructor who now lives in Florida. She really went the extra mile for the challenge. She emailed to tell me she took the initiative of setting up a Skype meeting with a student who has disabilities and needed some “face-to-face” support. Even though they were 1,200 miles apart, Renee said the verbal and nonverbal communication via Skype helped them create a connection they couldn’t have had otherwise. Renee is now determined to make more of an effort to connect with students on Skype or Hangouts.

Another employee who works in ORB told me in the past he silently walked by work study students every morning as they cleaned the halls with their earbuds in, listening to music. Thinking about the challenge, he stopped one morning and said hi. “I think I scared them.….I don’t like mornings.”

Whether the student you reached out to was scared or smiling, thanks for making a difference.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Student Engagement Challenge - Feb. 12

Just two days left in the 30-day Student Engagement Challenge. I am grateful to all of you who have made this challenge a part of your day. Thanks for connecting in a personal way with students each day and for sharing your stories with me.

I have found this challenge to be quite fulfilling for me personally. We all got into this profession with a desire to make a difference in the lives of students. Knowing the meaningful connections you are making with students has been almost as much fun as the challenge itself.

I would like to conclude this exercise by continuing with this thread of gratitude. Find a way this week to express gratitude to a student. Thank them for opening the door for you, for giving you a smile on a day you really needed it, or maybe for dressing like summer because it reminds you there’s hope for spring.  I will be thanking Jacob Beck for offering me a lick of his ice cream cone the other day. He made my day and I have been smiling about it ever since.

Have a good week!


Friday, February 6, 2015

I'm just a bill

Here's an update on recent college-related action at the Wyoming State Legislature. The system of seven Wyming community colleges has the following three agenda items for this General Session (Budget Sessions are in even-numbered years). I've included updates with each item.
  • Funding formula revision: This is our most important request before the legislature. Our present State Aid is composed of the Standard Budget and an Enrollment Growth Fund component; the latter requires exception budget requests that have rarely been fully funded the last several years. House Bill 118 proposes recalibrating it every four years. Passage of the legislation will help stabilize our funding so that community colleges are able to plan and make strategic data-based decisions. While the bill includes what legislators refer to as a "fiscal note" because of additional anticipated funding in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, it doesn't provide additional funds for next year. More than 30 legislators, including several from the Big Horn Basin, are co-sponsors, so there appears to be strong support.
    • UPDATE: The House Education Committee supported it 9-0. Because of its fiscal note, it went to the House Appropriations Committee this morning. Committee members supported it 7-0, but an amendment for further study may come forward. Assuming positive action in the House during the next couple of days, the bill will be assigned to a Senate committee for consideration.
  • Matching gift funding: The colleges are requesting one-time matching gift funding, a program that has been immensely helpful for fundraising activities and for students; that's certainly true here at Northwest. Our hope is that we'll gain the ability to use funds for facilities projects.
    • UPDATE: The House Appropriations Committee voted to set aside $20 million as a placeholder for the next biennium, but not for funding this next year, 2015-16. Work is being done to move funding into the state's overall supplemental budget so we have it next year, but I don't expect it to be accomplished with ease.
  • Capital construction: Given recent completion of our new Yellowstone Building, NWC has no construction project on the table at this session. A couple of the colleges have proposals for level II design studies to be funded at about $250,000-$300,000 per project.
Guns-in-schools bill: In addition, we're working to oppose a bill (House Bill 114) that would repeal gun-free zones in public schools, colleges, the University of Wyoming and in public buildings. The Judiciary Committee voted 8-1 to support the bill, and then it easily passed third reading in the House Monday morning 42-17. That sends it on its way to the Senate early this week where we believe it may meet with more opposition. Our concerns revolve around maintaining a safe campus environment and having local control.

We're watching several other bills, including one that extends the Wyoming Investment in Nursing (WyIN) program until 2020 and is moving along nicely. On the nursing front, a University of Wyoming funding request to place a faculty member on each campus for its BSN program was cut. Unfortunately, also cut was a proposed scholarship fund for "career and technical education" students. Late additions to the long list of bills include a couple that propose changes to the Hathaway Scholarship program, modifying definitions and semester hour requirements.
Know that NWC joins the other six colleges in fighting the good fight in Cheyenne!
Below is an old Schoolhouse Rock video. It may concern you to know that everything I know about how the legislature works I learned by watching "Bill" on Saturday mornings.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Student Engagement Challenge - Feb 5

I’m hearing great stories from NWC staffers about their experiences engaging students. Some are humorous; some are surprising. All are inspirational.

One person just happened to overhear a student who was having troubles making rent payments and in a position of choosing between day care and food. Our employee took the student’s case on as a personal cause, helping her investigate financial options, the HERO scholarship and other resources. This incredible employee even gave the student meat and vegetables from his own pantry.
This is above and beyond the 30-day challenge, and I certainly don’t expect employees to feel they need to make this kind of sacrifice. But I am certain this lucky student will never forget NWC or the compassion she and her family received here. I also feel certain she’ll do whatever it takes to complete her academic goals because she has someone who believes in her so much.

Please let me know how you’re doing with your 30-day Challenge to Engage Students. I want to hear how you’re approaching students and what you’re saying. 
We're more than halfway through the 30 days. Keep up the good work!