The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of trustees held its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at 5:30 p.m.

The first action item on the agenda was consideration of the fiscal year 2023 budget. A public hearing was held and no oral or written objections or petitions were heard or submitted. The board approved the budget as presented.

Tia Samo, SWCC chief financial officer, spoke to the board regarding the college administration’s recommendation to keep student housing room and board fees at the current rates for the upcoming 2022-23 academic year. The board approved this recommendation. Samo said at this point, the rates for amenities will stay the same as well; however, changes may take place prior to the upcoming academic year.

The board approved the appointment of Steve Crittenden of Creston, senior vice president of First National Bank, to Southwestern’s Education Foundation board of directors. Crittenden will replace Randy Huewe of Creston, who is retiring from the EF board, as well as his position as president at First National Bank. Huewe has served on the Education Foundation board since 2009.

In personnel, the board approved the employment of Salina Chesnut of Creston as education instructor for the 2022-23 academic year. Chesnut has been a kindergarten teacher for the Creston Community School District since 2013. She earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Phoenix, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Grand Canyon University, and an associate degree in business administration from the American Institute of Business.

Lindsay Stoaks, SWCC vice president of instruction, said Chesnut is “excited to transition her teaching skills to the post-secondary level to advise and educate future teachers.”

The board accepted the early retirement request of Tom King, longtime SWCC director of plant services, effective April 22, 2022. King has worked at SWCC in this position since June 1997.

During the president’s report, Dr. Marjorie McGuire-Welch, SWCC president, asked Erica Frey, director of the TRIO Talent Search (TRIO-TS), to explain the program to board members.

Frey introduced her staff members who were in attendance and told the board TRIO-Talent Search is 100 percent federally funded by the United States Department of Education. Frey said SWCC’s TRIO TS program’s current funding cycle is 2021-26. The program receives $438,253 per year. Frey’s staff includes five full-time staff members and several part-time staff members.

According to Frey, TRIO-TS serves students in sixth through 12th grades and two-thirds of the participants must be the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college and meet federal low-income guidelines.

Frey said, “Our services work with students to get them to college and then through college. We take away the barriers for these students … we make sure they get to college.”

Frey then introduced three former TRIO-TS participants: Macy Burgess, Southwest Valley High School and Central College graduate, currently attending graduate school at University of Nebraska at Lincoln; Taylor Eaglen, East Union, SWCC, and NWMSU graduate, earned her graduate degree from NWMSU as well, teaches second grade at Nodaway Valley School; and Casey Allen, East Union and SWCC graduate, and will graduate from ISU in May, recently hired to teach ag at Lenox Schools starting in August.

These students told heartfelt stories about how the TRIO-TS program has assisted them in earning their high school and college degrees. They explained the program as a family environment and told how their parents and guardians had not attended college and therefore they would have been lost in applying and attending colleges, as well as applying for financial aid, if it weren’t for the assistance of the TRIO-TS program.

“You can come from nothing and work hard and get to exactly where you want to be …,” Eaglen explained. “Education is something I hold near and dear to my heart.”

They spoke about how they have bonded with the TRIO-TS staff members and rely on them to assist them throughout their educational careers.

Burgess summed it up with, “I found a home here and I never want to leave.”

Following the TRIO-TS program report, Jerry Smith, who is the college’s representative to the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees (IACCT), briefly reported on IACCT’s most recent meeting, which was held on March 4.

The board then went into closed session for Welch’s annual CEO evaluation.