The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of trustees held their regular board meeting on Tues., December 8, 2015, at 5:30 p.m. in the college’s Administration Center.

During the meeting, the board appointed Mary Jo Skarda as interim board treasurer, replacing Randy Cook, who recently resigned his position as chief financial officer at the college.  Skarda will serve in this position until a new chief financial officer is hired and appointed.

Tom Lesan, vice president of economic development, gave the board a construction update regarding the abatement project underway in the 200-bay of the Instructional Center.  Lesan said the contractors are nearing completion.  The next step will be for Iowa Environmental Services, Inc., to come back to campus and complete additional testing.  Lesan reported fixtures are being installed in the restrooms in the main hallway of the Instructional Center.  Lesan said if all goes well classrooms in the 200-bay could once again be occupied by the end of January.

Beth Kulow, dean of student services, presented to the board regarding the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) national report, “A Closer Look at the Trillion:  Borrowing, Repayment, and Default at Iowa’s Community Colleges.”  The report—the first of its kind—takes a close look at community college student debt and provides data specific to Iowa community colleges.  The goal of the study was to clearly identify contributing factors to student loan defaults that could be used to develop solutions.  

According to Kulow, SWCC has implemented a default prevention plan to stay ahead of the issue of default.  Kulow said the overall goal of default prevention at SWCC is to achieve a three-year cohort default rate below 15 percent within five years.  Recent data shows the college’s fiscal year 2012 default rate at 20.2 percent.  

Kulow said this goal will be accomplished through efforts such as providing annual financial aid training to academic advisors, monitoring satisfactory academic progress, performing student loan entrance counseling and master promissory notes, and sending aggregate loan limit letters with award packets.

Jerry Smith, SWCC board member from Osceola and college representative for the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees (IACCT), reported to the board on the recent IACCT meeting.