The Western Board of Regents met for its regularly scheduled meeting on August 19, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in the Higher Learning Center at the college. Guests in attendance included Dr. Phil Birdine, Western President; Lisa Greenlee, Vice President for Academic and Student Support Services; Tricia Latham, Vice President for Business Affairs; Chad Wiginton, Dean of Academic and Student Services; John Phelan, Faculty Senate President; Doyle Jencks, Director of Physical Plant; Jimmy Poe, Campus Safety and Security Coordinator and Energy Manager; new faculty and staff members, Jeffrey Gonda, Jody Hamilton, Cristina Menjivar, Justin O’Neil, Jeffrey Schneider, Meredy Thompson, Misty George, Patricia Perdue, Jason Miller, Elizabeth Carpenter, Briar Jenkins, Secretary to the President and Judith Norton, Director of Public Information.
The meeting began with the recognition of Gilmer Capps, past regent chair for 2013-2014 by Mark Dodson, the current regent chair. Dodson presented Capps with a plaque commemorating his service to the board.
John Phelan presented the Faculty Senate Report. He announced that he will continue to chair the Faculty Senate this year and that Liz Wallace was elected secretary. Phelan said that two faculty members have been designated to serve on the college’s administrative and dean’s councils, which accomplishes the Faculty Senate’s shared governance objectives. Each year there will be one representative from each academic division represented. This year Phelan and Jacqueline Bellamy are the designated faculty. He also announced that the Senate will host a reception for the Regents at their next meeting in October. This will give the newest faculty members a chance to meet the board.
The consent docket, which contains the minutes of the June 10, 2014 regular meeting and the expenditure comparison report were voted on and approved by the board.
Tricia Latham and Doyle Jencks reported on Western’s Energy Management Program. Latham praised the Physical Plant team for major progress made in the past 4 years. She cited several areas of success to include further development of the annual Blood Borne Pathogen training, Clery Act advancements, expansion of the safety and security team and the energy savings performance contract with McKinstry. Jencks went on to present a report of verified savings that the energy contract has yielded since its implementation in 2011. Western’s new systems were commissioned in 2012 and included new HVAC system units, remote access digital energy management systems, lighting improvements, vending machine energy misers and security system upgrades in the Main and Technical Education buildings. These upgrades along with reduced operation hours in the summer months has realized verified electrical consumption savings of 1,264.281 kWh and $79,776 of utility cost savings. The cumulative verified utility savings for the time frame 2013- March 2014 term is $99,542. . This is nearly double the savings guaranteed by the McKinstry energy savings performance contract.
Lisa Greenlee reported on Western’s current enrollment. Summer 2014 enrollment was up 85% compared to last summer. Fall 2014 enrollment is currently down 12%. Some possible causes for the decline include a lower unemployment rate with more people returning to the work force and taking fewer college hours; population decline in Western’s five-county service area and changes to the Department of Defense tuition assistance program that prohibits payment of fees associated with college enrollment. Greenlee outlined some solutions to include heightened recruitment and improved scheduling for students, intensified marketing in Western’s service area, addressing the tuition assistance issue for enrolled military members and improved service to at-risk and new students via Western’s new Retention Specialist, Jason Miller.
Greenlee continued with a report about Western’s 2014 strategic planning initiative. The college is working with the Voorhees Group from Glenwood Springs, Colorado over the next several months to produce a new strategic plan by January 31, 2015. The team of Rick Voorhees and John Cooper will meet with Western internal and external stakeholders October 1-2, November 18 and January 8, 2015 for focused discussions about the direction Western will take with the new plan.
Greenlee also included an update on Western’s Higher Learning Commission Focused Visit report that was written after a peer review, March 31 – April 2, 2014. The report was reviewed by the commission’s Institutional Actions Council (IAC). On August 11, the IAC stated that it, “concurred with the evaluation findings and affirmed that the institution is addressing the concerns related to the quality and rigor of the college’s online and on-ground courses and programs in the eight and sixteen-week formats.” The IAC’s approval prepares Western for the upcoming Comprehensive Visit on February 9-11, 2015.
Chad Wiginton presented a request for approval of Western’s recently revised Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program policy. The board voted on and approved the updated policy.
Phil Birdine followed with the President’s report notifying the board of a pending formal request to the Chancellor of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) to conduct a follow-up review of Western’s academic programs. The review would serve to show Western has successfully remedied areas of non-compliance noted in the report that the OSRHE issued in December 2012. The new report would be added to HLC resource room material that will be available to the HLC visiting team during their February, 2015 visit. Birdine also informed the regents of the probability of legislation being presented during the 2015 legislative session in favor of concealed weapons on college campuses. Birdine further stated that some believe the legislative climate in 2015 may be such that revised legislation could make carrying a weapon on campus legal. Birdine said, “It would be a troubling day if that legislation passed.” He encouraged the board to voice their opinions to area legislators regarding this possible change.
The board moved into executive session at 8:33 p.m.
At 9:10 p.m. the board reconvened in open session for discussion of personnel matters. The employments of Jody Hamilton, Secretary to the Dean’s; Cullen Sanders, Safety and Security; Marco Garcia, Grounds; Maurice Walton, GEAR UP College Liaison/Coach; Kristin Snow, Financial Aid/Veteran’s Specialist; Meredy Thompson, Administrative Secretary for the Vice-President for Business Affairs; Cristina Menjivar, English faculty; Jeffrey Gonda, Vocal Music faculty; Jeffrey Schneider, Office Systems Tech/Microcomputer Applications faculty and Jason Miller, Retention/Advisement Specialist were approved by the board.
The personnel resignations of Charles Cuthbertson, English faculty; Jeanne Brandon, GEAR UP College Liaison/Coach and Haley Thompson, Director of Development and Alumni Relations were approved by the board.
At 9:11p.m. the board adjourned.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Western Board of Regents will be October 21, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in the Higher Learning Center at the college.