EWC trustees convene for March meeting

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TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) board of trustees convened for their March meeting on March 14. President Dr. Jeffry Hawes was present with trustee members Chairman Robert Baumgartner, Randy Adams, Kurt Sittner, Jackie Van Mark, Doug Mercer, Katherine Patrick and Rick Vonburg. Converse County advisory member Jim Willox was also present.

During the work session for this meeting, the board listened to another trustee training presentation by Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Consultant Dr. Bruce Leslie. The presentation was on the eight elements of an effective strategic plan and trustee fiscal responsibilities.

“We’re going to focus on the trustee judiciary responsibility,” Leslie began. “What you’re going to hear over and over from me is how critical it is that the finances of the institution be aligned with the strategic plan of the institution.”

Leslie said an effective strategic plan should have an aspirational vision, a concise, efficient and focused mission statement, five or six values and a data decision system. It should also have a wildly important goal (WIG), five or six goals that achieve the WIG, strategies that achieve the goals, that achieve the WIG and that achieve the vision and the discipline necessary to achieve the desired outcomes and the vision.

Leslie said the trustee’s fiscal responsibilities include the strategic plan, budget, finances, policies, funding and key patterns. Trustees should also focus on their activism for the institution and manage fluctuations.

“My statement (for trustees is) your job in collaboration with the president is to continuously improve the organization so it achieves the vision, mission and purpose of the organization or employees, as well as for students,” Leslie said.

During the meeting, Vice President of Administrative Services Kwin Wilkes and Physical Plant Director Keith Jarvis provided insight into the new construction and major maintenance requests and two bid requests. These bid requests are for the replacement of the chiller in the fine arts building and the purchase of two boilers for the Tebbet Building.

“This (chiller) replacement is for the (air conditioning) we currently have in the building,” Jarvis explained. “The art room, music room, lobby and dance room were never included in the original chiller.”

Jarvis said rooms like the dance room are used year-round and get fairly hot in the summertime. They have explored the option of updating the current chiller, however, were told that it has outlived its usefulness as it was originally developed in 1982. Similarly, the boilers are also outdated and are in need of replacement.

The board unanimously approved the major maintenance plan for both fiscal years 2023 and 2024. The board also approved both the bid for Mechanical Systems Inc. for the chiller replacement project and the purchase of the two boilers.

The board unanimously approved Luke Audette for the position of assistant professor for mathematics. 

The board approved the final reading for board policy 5.0 pertaining to the admissions policy. This policy was revised at the October meeting in 2022. 

Hawes presented the request for the first reading for board policy 5.1 to be repealed or replaced by the policy committee. Hawes explained that they are just finishing some language conversation. This request will be posted for public comment for the next 45 days. At the end of that period, the repeal will be brought back to the board for its final reading.

Director of Human Resources Patrick Korell provided human resources update for the board. In his report, he said the college has not had to make any significant adjustments to wages so far since the board approved the wage increase. He also said that soon there will be about 15 people leaving the college; some of these people are retiring. Moving forward, there will be upcoming interviews and the approval of new instructors.

During the trustee topics, Willox discussed the submission of the grant application for an expansion at the Douglas campus. While he is concerned the process has taken so long the budget may be rejected because of potential changes in costs, he is hopeful that they are moving forward. 

Hawes explained they have been considering creating a Douglas EWC Foundation. This organization would be similar to EWC’s foundation, except it would be centered around the city of Douglas. This organization could potentially help the Douglas campus with these types of renovation and construction projects, among other things.

During the president’s report, Hawes had Policy Consultant Dr. Sandra Veltri for the Higher Education Commission speak to the board about maintaining compliance with regulatory agencies. 

Veltri spoke about her work with EWC and how and why a college maintains compliance with each of the different regulatory agencies, including, federal legislation, U.S. Department of Education and Wyoming state statutes.

“I look at (policies) from a creditors lens,” Veltri explained. “That is so critical for you as the policy member or as the board member because we’re trying to make sure that your back is covered; that’s what I care about. That way if something happens, we have done everything that we possibly can to safeguard you if you ever have to go to court.”

Hawes also discussed updates for his office. Moving forward, Hawes would like the college to perform a deeper program evaluation focusing on persistence, retention and growth. He said in recent years, the college’s final program enrollment numbers have decreased from about 580 in 2012 to 286 in 2022.

“There are colleges that are losing enrollment and there are colleges that are gaining enrollment,” Hawes told the board. “I can tell you the difference between the two; it’s not hard to figure out. We have to provide experiences.”

To finish his report, Hawes congratulated welding instructor Darren Young for the approval of his tenure.

The next meeting of the EWC Board of Trustees is scheduled for April 11 at 5:45 p.m. The agendas, minutes, and recordings of meetings can be viewed at https://ewc.wy.edu/about-eastern-wyoming-college/presidentscabinet/board-of-trustees/board-agendas-minutes/.