Cowley College

Cowley College Board of Trustees meeting live streamed due to COVID-19

March 30, 2020

Based on mandates by local, state and federal health officials prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 individuals, the monthly Cowley College Board of Trustees meeting was live streamed Friday in the McAtee Dining Center to comply with social distancing guidelines.

“These are certainly unprecedented times and I am proud of how hard the Cowley College team has worked to adapt to the circumstances to find solutions for our students,” Board Chair Bob Juden said.

The Institutional Advancement team at Cowley College has developed a comprehensive COVID-19 website for students, employees, and community members.

“I want to thank the administration and staff,” Trustee Gary Wilson said. “They have done yeoman’s work to support and approve the actions that have been taken so far.”

Cowley College President Dr. Dennis C. Rittle provided a College update. He informed the Board that a cross-functional team has been developing and accessing protocols, brain-storming and problem solving scenarios, while working on communication efforts to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus and continuing to provide quality and affordable education to our students. Cowley College campuses remain open, but activity is by appointment only. Classes are ongoing and the college is enrolling students for the summer and fall semester. Dr. Rittle praised the work of the faculty and staff as all have adjusted to a highly fluid situation while keeping student needs a priority. Also, a survey was recently sent to eligible Cowley College graduates to determine their preference on a possible alternative to the classic commencement ceremony. A virtual study hall is being conducted via Zoom. Lastly, Dr. Rittle informed the Board of COVID-19 related expenses and student billing questions.

In other matters (the administrative reports were listed in the Board book):

1. Saw Dr. Rittle recognize Hope Strader of Wichita, KS, for being named the school’s March Student of the Month.
2. Jessica Lucas, Government Affairs Liaison, provided the Board with a legislative update. On March 19, the legislature completed their business with the final action before early adjournment being the passage of the base budget. An additional $4.5 million was added into the 2020 budget for Excel in CTE funding with an additional $1.5 million requested for review during omnibus.
3. Student Senate president Kendall Ray provided a student update in the Board report.
4. Approved the following Board policies, Soliciting by Vendors and Agents (135.00) and College Mail Services (154.00).
5. Held a first reading on the following Board policies, College Vehicles (153.00), Bulletin Boards (173.00), Selection of Professional Employees (240.00), and Cowley College Student Senate (406.00).
6. Holly Harper, vice president of finance and administration, provided a Sumner Campus update and facilities maintenance update. Harper informed the Board that the Tiger Deli re-opened on February 21 and new hours were created to accommodate students and staff.
7. Dr. Michelle Schoon, vice president of academic affairs, informed the Board that the Phi Theta Kappa induction ceremony was held March 1 in the Wright Room. They also honored the All-Kansas Academic Team of Priscilla Bianchini, Jeannie Qualls, and Hattie Staley, as well as those who completed the Five Star Competitive Edge and Five Star Advisor programs.
8. Dr. Kori Gregg, vice president of institutional advancement, shared information on active campaigns and key projects. She also said the Ed Hargrove Softball Field dedication and reunion has been rescheduled to take place in August.
9. Paul Erdmann, vice president of information technology, provided an update on projects the information technology staff has worked on over the past month, and also provided a Student Information System update. Web cams, speakers, and document cameras have been deployed to support distance delivery education. Outdoor wireless equipment to establish hotspots has been set up in Cowley College parking lots to assist student learning.
10. Kristi Shaw, executive director of enrollment management, provided an enrollment update. Shaw also informed the Board of the recruiting events the admissions representatives have assisted with over the past month and have lined up in the coming months.
11. Debbie Phelps, executive director of institutional effectiveness, provided information from the Kansas Board of Regents and said the Higher Learning Commission institutional update is underway and due by April 3.
12. Jason O’Toole, executive director of student affairs, provided a housing update. Currently, 21 students remain in housing due to hardship or extenuating circumstances.
13. Jan Grace, Sumner Campus Operations Officer, shared information on the events Cowley recently sponsored at the Sumner Campus.
14. Pam Smith, faculty liaison, informed the Board of the recent events and conferences Cowley faculty attended. She also shared information on the Non-Destructive Testing program being recognized by Berg Engineering as one of the 20 best NDT schools in the United States.
15. Shane Larson, athletic director, provided a winter sports update. The Tiger men’s basketball team qualified for the national tournament for the first time in 63 years before the season was halted due to COVID-19. The Tiger wrestling team achieved its first-ever national champion in sophomore Ottis Peeler. While, the Lady Tiger indoor track and field team placed 10th at the national championships thanks to Sasha Elizondo earning All-American honors in four events.
16. Approved the resignation of Brent Hilliard as assistant tennis coach, effective March 7; approved the resignation of Landon West as director of student life, effective March 18; approved the resignation of Bryan Faber as manufacturing technology instructor, effective at the end of the 2019-2020 contract year; and approved the resignation of Jan Gottschalk as administrative assistant to the vice president of academic affairs.
17. Approved the employment of Holly Harper as vice president of finance and administration, effective April 1.
18. The Board supports and approves the actions that have been taken thus far relating to the COVID-19 virus.
19. Heard an update from the Willdan Group.
20. Dr. Rittle provided a brief report on the Phi Theta Kappa Luncheon he recently attended in Topeka, KS as well as the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees.
21. Tabled the discussion on the following policy, Board Policy Approval (105.00). This policy will be readdressed at the April Board meeting.
22. Approved the commitment of funds and letter of support for the distance learning and telemedicine Russ Grant thereby committing Cowley College to a maximum total of $4,318.89.
23. Community member Michael Berganini provided public comment.