Creston— The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of directors met Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at 5:30 p.m., in the Administration Center on the Creston campus.

During the meeting, Ken Rech of Red Oak was re-elected as president of the college’s board.  Rech has been president of the board since 2008.  Dr. Tony Cass of Creston was elected as the board’s vice president, replacing Dennis Davis of Greenfield, who had been vice president of the board since 2008.  SWCC Assistant to the President Mary Jo Skarda was re-appointed as board secretary and SWCC Chief Financial Officer Randy Cook was re-appointed as board treasurer.

The board re-appointed the following members to the Education Foundation board for the 2015-16 year:  Patti Bricker of Greenfield, Amy Hook of Creston, Randy Huewe of Creston, Karl Knock of Creston, Rick Oshel of Osceola, Allen Pohren of Red Oak, Jerry Smith of Osceola, Alec Turner of West Des Moines (formerly of Corning), and Dr. Barb Crittenden, SWCC representative. 

Beth Kulow, SWCC dean of student services, presented a report to the board showing fall SWCC enrollment up 3.4 percent from last year, with a total of 1,656 students. Kulow said credit hours are up as well, with an increase of 2.4 percent.

Iowa community college legislative liaisons Dave Palmer, Jerry Fitzgerald, and Matt Fitzgerald briefed the board regarding the current legislative session.

In other business, Tom Lesan, SWCC vice president for economic development, informed the board the University of Northern Iowa’s Business & Community Services will collaborate with regional economic development groups in Union and Adams counties to launch a new initiative to support and encourage entrepreneurship and start-up businesses.  Lesan said Union and Adams counties are the fourth region to be selected for the Regional Entrepreneurship Project.  The goal of the project is to build upon interest in entrepreneurship throughout the region.

Lesan then gave the board an update on the 200-bay construction project.  Lesan told the board the work has been delayed due to the presence of asbestos in ceiling materials.  Iowa Environmental Services is preparing a scope of work for abatement of the existing material before renovations can continue. 

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.

Rech reminded board members they had recently received a report on student loan debt from the American Association of Community College Trustees.  The report includes data specific to Iowa community colleges, in addition to overall information about student debt.  Kulow noted that the college has been providing numerous financial literacy learning opportunities for SWCC students in an effort to better educate them concerning student loan debt.  She said the college’s financial aid department is working on a default management plan as well.  More information related to this plan will be presented to the board at the regular December board meeting.