The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of trustees held their regular board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at 5:30 p.m., in the board room of the college’s Administration Center.

The board approved the college’s Early Retirement Policy for fiscal year 2022-23. The policy remained unchanged from the previous year. The expiration date for the plan is June 30, 2023. Tony Cass, president of the SWCC board of trustees, said the college currently has 20 employees eligible for early retirement. Employees requesting early retirement must apply prior to April 1, 2023, to receive the policy benefits.

Kim Bishop, SWCC dean of student services, presented the Fall 2022 Demographic Report. Bishop said the college is now meeting pre-COVID (2019) numbers with a fall 2022 enrollment of 1,581 students and 14,637 credit hours, up from 1,542 students and 13,978 credit hours in fall 2021. The total enrollment is made up of 66 percent arts and sciences students and 33 percent career and technical education (CTE) students. The average age of students at SWCC this fall is 20. Bishop said 81 percent of students receive some sort of financial assistance.

Bishop spoke briefly about online statistics at SWCC. She said 891 SWCC students are enrolled in at least one online class this fall. Currently, SWCC offers 148 course titles.

Following Bishop’s report, Theresa Umscheid, executive director of the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC), presented to the board. SWCC has been a member of the ICCOC since the consortium was established 22 years ago. Umscheid spoke of the consortium’s growth and explained to the board that this past year the ICCOC became its own entity.

“We now have a board of directors and are governed by the college presidents,” Umscheid explained.

Umscheid talked about the benefits of colleges belonging to the ICCOC, including opportunities for students; instructors having opportunities to teach more courses; reduced costs of the learning management system, Canvas; and faculty development being offered regularly. Umscheid said textbooks have now been embedded into the ICCOC’s courses and this has reduced the average costs to an average of $45 per textbook, which is a huge benefit for students.

She said the consortium is now made up of six Iowa community colleges and one four-year private college, Iowa Wesleyan. Umscheid said she will be interested to see if the ICCOC has additional interest from other private colleges looking for cost-effective routes to offer online courses.

Jeff Smith, lobbyist from Fitzgerald, Smith and Associates of Waukee, offered board members an update on the upcoming legislative session. Smith said there would most likely be more than 40 new members in the house and senate, but most likely the state would not see changes in overall leadership as Gov. Kim Reynolds would likely retain office due to pre-election predictions.

Smith stated as always state general aid would be the top priority for the upcoming legislative session. Smith said a 3 percent increase for community colleges is the goal. Smith also spent time talking about the massive government reorganization underway including key state programs being moved from the Department of Education to Workforce Development.

Jerry Smith, SWCC board member from Osceola and Community Colleges for Iowa representative, said they did not have a November meeting. He spoke briefly about the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) National Legislative Summit in New York City.