The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of trustees held their regular board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, at 5:30 p.m., in the board room of the college’s Administration Center.

Wayne Pantini, SWCC vice president of economic development, spoke briefly regarding the CDL Infrastructure Grant awarded to the college through Iowa Workforce Development (IWD). The grant funds, $665,000, may be used for building, purchasing, or remodeling CDL training infrastructure, which includes construction and renovation provided by a third-party vendor, purchasing of space for training, and purchasing of equipment. Pantini said the grant requires a 50 percent match and explained this was his reason for coming to the board, because the amount, $335,000, exceeds the maximum amount to be expended without board approval.

Pantini said college administrators were proposing SWCC’s cash match requirement be pulled from two Fund 2 budgets—Pathways Academic Career Employment (PACE) and economic development administration—and one Fund 3 budget, motorcycle revolving (due to existing motorcycle training courses being moved to the CDL facility as well). Pantini told the board the CDL facility options were being explored during the Master Facilities Planning process underway at the college and would include either construction of a new facility at the college’s ag site, or the expansion of the existing facility at the ag site.

Following discussion, the board approved the CDL Infrastructure Grant funding allocations as presented.

In personnel, the board approved a President’s Chapter 279 Administrator Contract appointing Lindsay Stoaks as college president (see related release, Stoaks becomes Southwestern Community College president) and an Interim Vice President of Instruction Contract for Dr. John Franklin, reappointing Franklin as the interim vice president of instruction until June 30, 2024.

Franklin then presented to the board regarding academic programs at the college undergoing program reviews during the previous academic year. Programs included accounting and information technology, business administration, applied engineering technology, and nursing. Franklin said program reviews happen on a five-year cycle. He spoke about the findings and recommendations happening as the result of each program review.

Kim Bishop, SWCC dean of student services, presented the Fall 2023 Student Demographics Report. Bishop said SWCC has seen an increase in enrollment, with fall 2023 enrollment at 1,633 students, which is as high as enrollment has been since 2016. She said the increase in credit hours hasn’t been quite as dramatic, moving from 14,637 last year to 14,735 this year. Bishop said the college enrollment is made up of 67.8 percent arts and sciences college transfer students and 32.2 percent career and technical education (CTE) students. Bishop said 82 percent of SWCC students receive some sort of financial assistance.

Kat Callahan, Community Colleges for Iowa policy & government relations specialist, and Jeff Smith, lobbyist from Fitzgerald, Smith and Associates of Waukee, offered board members an update on the upcoming legislative session. Callahan and Smith stated, as always state general aid would be a priority for the upcoming legislative session, but this year a proposal to level out the community college funding formula would be the top priority. Callahan mentioned the current funding formula causes discrepancies in the percentage of state aid awarded to each community college. She said depending on the level of the funding allocation, the funding gap could be resolved in two to five years. Smith said he believes legislators are aware of issues relevant to community colleges and see the community college system as a high priority.

Callahan reminded the board of the Community Colleges for Iowa Convention and Tradeshow on Nov. 28-30, at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. She said attendance has topped their expectations with 375 individuals registered to attend the inaugural conference.