Creston— The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of directors met on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at 5:30 p.m., for their regular board meeting.

Uncollectible account write-offs were approved as presented by Tia Samo, SWCC chief financial officer. The majority of the accounts recommended for write-off were incurred during fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and had been at collections with little or no activity for 18 months or more. In a memo to the board, Samo explained although the account balances are written-off, students’ transcripts are held and students cannot register for additional classes until the balances are paid.

A total of $397,318.52 was written off for uncollectible accounts. Samo said the non-COVID balance of the write-offs has already been included in the college’s reserve for uncollectible accounts and has been expensed in previous years. The COVID write-offs have an offsetting revenue for the HEERF reimbursement of the expense. Therefore, Samo said SWCC’s unrestricted fund balance will not be significantly affected by this write-off.

In personnel, the board approved the employment of Kelly Devitt for the position of art instructor for the 2022-23 academic year. Devitt recently graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics from the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. She also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in integrated studio arts from Iowa State University. She instructed ceramic courses during the fall 2021 semester at Iowa State.

Lindsay Stoaks, SWCC vice president of instruction, explained Devitt as “an enthusiastic instructor who blends traditional teaching methods with innovative and creative instructional techniques.”

The board approved the hiring of Jordan Wardenburg for the position of nursing instructor. Stoaks said Wardenburg is “an experienced nurse who has a passion for ensuring excellent quality health care for all patients.”

Wardenburg obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Nebraska Methodist College and also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in child and family studies from Northwest Missouri State University. She has worked in nursing for MATURA Action Corporation in Creston; Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Methodist Hospital in Omaha.

Kim Bishop, SWCC dean of student services, gave the college’s summer enrollment report. Bishop said summer enrollment is at 521 students, which is 6 percent above summer 2021 headcount and 2.2 percent above 2021 total summer credit hours.

During the president’s report, Stoaks spoke to the board regarding SWCC career and technical education (CTE) students competing in state and national SkillsUSA competition.

SkillsUSA serves middle school, high school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled-service occupations. Stoaks said the SkillsUSA National Championships are competitive events showcasing the best CTE students in the nation.

To compete at nationals, students must first qualify at the state level. Iowa SkillsUSA competition was held in Ankeny on April 7 and 8. According to Stoaks, SWCC came away from state competition with eight first-place champions, three second-place finishers, and two third-place winners.

The first-place finishers will head to national competition June 21-24 in Atlanta, Georgia, where they will compete against more than 6,500 state champions from all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Students competing at nationals include Tyson Smith of Creston, carpentry and building trades (secondary division); Osten Blevins of Osceola, electrical construction wiring (secondary division); Lukas Moore of Emerson, collision repair technology (post-secondary division); Nate Purdy of Lorimor, electrical construction wiring (post-secondary division); Brandon Raasch of Fontanelle, automotive refinishing technology (secondary division); Aiden Evans of Creston, welding sculpture (secondary division); and a three-person team consisting of Dylan Swaney of Bedford, Cole Leuenberg of Waverly, Nebraska, and Seth Varellas of Riverton, competing in welding fabrication team (post-secondary division).

Following Stoaks’ presentation, discussion took place among board members, who were impressed with the SkillsUSA results. They congratulated the student winners and commented regarding how these state winners are proof of quality instruction in the CTE programs at SWCC.

“We have a long-standing history of competing and doing well on a national stage,” Stoaks stated.

Stoaks said since starting to compete with SkillsUSA in 2009, SWCC has had three national champions—Daniel Leonard, electrical technology in 2016, Joel Hartstack, automotive refinish, in 2017, and Cory Marquardt, high school electrical, in 2018—as well as 16 national place winners.

Next, Stoaks provided a virtual tour of the Habitat for Humanity home, located at 509 S. Maple in Creston, being constructed by SWCC carpentry and building trades students with assistance from the electrical technology program. Stoaks said this home is the eighth house constructed by SWCC students through the college’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

Jerry Smith of Osceola, SWCC board member and Community Colleges for Iowa representative, spoke about the organizations’ recent statewide meeting. He said following the end of the recent legislative session, lobbyists spoke about state funding and felt satisfied about where community colleges ended up.

Smith then spoke about the accomplishments of Tom Lesan, SWCC vice president of economic development, who will be retiring at the end of June. He said Lesan has impacted SWCC’s region for 40 years through the 260 programs Lesan has implemented and talked of Lesan’s relationships and contacts statewide.

“Tom has played an instrumental part in hundreds of millions of dollars being allocated statewide and tens of millions of dollars being allocated locally,” Smith said.

A retirement reception will be held for Lesan on Tuesday, June 28, from 3:30-5:30 p.m., at Crestmoor Golf Club in Creston. The public is invited to attend.

Smith reminded the board of the Community Colleges for Iowa statewide annual conference, July 20-22, in Sioux City.

The board adjourned to move into a collective bargaining session.

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