The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of trustees held their regular board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, at 5:30 p.m., in the Administration Center board room.

During the meeting, the election of board officers took place for the upcoming year. Dr. Tony Cass of Creston was re-elected as president of the college’s board. He has served on the SWCC board since February 2009, was the board’s vice president from 2015-17, and became board president in October 2017. Fred Shearer of Corning, was re-elected as vice president. Shearer joined the board in 2002 and became vice president in 2017. Carmalee Woods, SWCC assistant to the president and coordinator of special projects, was appointed as board treasurer and board secretary. Cass said Woods will serve as board treasurer until the college hires a permanent chief financial officer.

Joe Sparks and David Ellis of Denman & Company, LLP, were in attendance to present the college’s annual audit report. The college received an unmodified opinion with no internal control deficiencies and no instances of non-compliance. Following the presentation, Bill Meck, interim SWCC chief financial officer, who was in attendance by phone, said what he appreciated the most is the job the business office is doing. He noted the work of Denise Kelley, SWCC controller, and the rest of the staff who assisted Sparks and Ellis while the audit was being conducted. Following the report, board members voted to receipt and file the college’s annual audit report as presented.

Lindsay Stoaks, SWCC vice president of instruction, spoke to the board about the importance in having students enroll in carpentry and building trades programs offered by the college. Many of the hands-on learning opportunities happen due to partnerships with entities in SWCC’s region. Stoaks explained college administration was requesting authorization of the board to allow the college president to sign carpentry and building trades partnership agreements. During discussion of this action item, Cass asked if there were any projects such as this coming up. Stoaks mentioned a potential partnership with Green Hills AEA, as well as a renovation project in the Diagonal area. Due to the Diagonal project, SWCC board member Zach Gunsolley of Diagonal, who is also a member on the Diagonal Community Development Corporation, chose to abstain from the vote to ensure no conflict of interest.

In personnel, the board approved the early retirement of Steve Westphal, building and grounds and collision repair lab assistant. Westphal’s last day at SWCC will be Dec. 31, 2022.

Stoaks then gave the annual program report. She explained SWCC’s instructional programs are reviewed on a five-year cycle. The process has been in place since 1981 for career and technical education (CTE) programs and since 2017 for arts and sciences programs. Programs reviewed during the past year were information technology systems networking, which has been offered at SWCC since 2008; electrical technology, offered since 2011; and carpentry and building trades, one of SWCC’s three founding programs. During the review process, each of these programs was examined to evaluate the currency of curriculum and faculty, labor market need, program enrollment and retention, graduate success, adequacy of equipment and facilities, student outcomes, and other program-related metrics.

After speaking about the three programs specifically, Stoaks offered the board some broad institutional data as outlined in the program report. Stoaks said, according to data compiled by the Iowa Department of Education, and printed in the 2021 Southwestern Community College-College Profile, Southwestern’s graduation rate ranked third among Iowa’s community colleges. In addition, as compared to other Iowa community colleges, SWCC ranked first in transfer rate. Finally, Stoaks said as graduation and transfer data are combined to determine success rate, and SWCC ranked second among Iowa’s community colleges in success rate.

Following Stoaks’ report, Cass said the information presented speaks highly about the quality of SWCC programs and instructors.

Jerry Smith, SWCC board member from Osceola and Community Colleges for Iowa representative, reported on the two-day IACCT meeting held last week.