Published

Creston— The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of directors met for their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at 5:30 p.m., in the Administration Center board room.

The board held a public hearing on the proposal to convey property, located east of campus on Green Valley Road, to Greater Regional Health for the purpose of a parking lot at the new Greater Connections Childcare Development Center, currently under construction. No oral or written comments were received.

Wayne Pantini, SWCC vice president of economic development, told the board Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., of Des Moines drew up the agreement related to the transfer of property. Pantini said there is a provision in the agreement that if the hospital would decide to sell the land during the next 10 years, SWCC would have the first right of refusal; the land must be used for the purpose of childcare for the next 10 years as well.

Tony Cass of Creston, SWCC board president, said he spoke with Monte Neitzel, Greater Regional Health president/CEO, and feels the donation of land is really going to help the facility.

Following the discussion, the board approved the conveyance of the property to Greater Regional Health. Jerry Smith of Osceola, SWCC board member, abstained from the vote due to his former employment with Matura Action Corporation, the original owner of the land. Matura gifted the land to SWCC following the 2012 tornado that destroyed apartments on the property.

Bill Meck, SWCC interim chief financial officer, presented to the board regarding a proposal for an increase in tuition and fees for the 2023-24 academic year. Meck said college administration was requesting a $6 per credit hour increase in tuition, equating to a just under 3 percent increase. Meck said in looking at community colleges across the state, following this increase SWCC would most likely be mid-range among community colleges on tuition and fees.

“If everybody does exactly what they say they’re going to,” Meck stated, “there will be seven colleges with tuition higher than Southwestern and seven colleges lower.”

Smith asked Meck how much each dollar increase in tuition generates for the college. Meck said he wished he could say it was a higher dollar amount, but due to the high school and online student populations being a lot of SWCC’s total credit hours, the increase is not as extensive as it might seem.

“I think we’re talking somewhere in the neighborhood of $16,000-$17,000, so a $6 increase generates approximately $100,000,” said Meck.

Following Meck’s report, the board approved the $6 increase in tuition; as well as a $25 fee increase related to OSHA training in career and technical education programs.

Lana Bartmess, SWCC human resources director, spoke to the board regarding the college’s Affirmative Action Plan, a biennial college report. Bartmess said the plan evaluates the success of affirmatively recruiting females and minorities for positions where underrepresentation may exist. According to Bartmess, since the 2020 report, minority populations have increased in every category, while the white/non-Hispanic population has decreased slightly under 1 percent. Bartmess said the college’s plan outlines goals for minority recruitment in the future as well.

“The college will strive to increase the number of minorities employed at the college by 4 percent the next two years,” Bartmess explained.

The board also reviews factors related to disabled individuals and veterans. The board approved the Affirmative Action Plan as presented.

Kim Bishop, SWCC dean of student services, spoke to the board regarding a statewide grant that will increase services in the high schools.

“In 2022, Indian Hills received a $2 million grant on behalf of Iowa’s community colleges to expand College and Career Transition Counselor staffing statewide, so these are what we’re calling our new CCTC positions,” Bishop said.

Bishop said beginning in August 2023, SWCC will secure a CCTC position in the Clarke and Mormon Trail school districts. According to Bishop, this requires signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) from each of the participating school districts by August 1. Upon speaking to legal counsel, it was learned SWCC, Clarke, and Mormon Trail are all clients of Ahlers & Cooney, P.C.; therefore, the college needs to work through the informed consent process to make sure the MOUs can be in place by August 1. Following Bishop’s presentation, the board approved the informed consent conflict waiver forms with both the Clarke and Mormon Trail school districts.

Lindsay Stoaks, SWCC vice president of instruction, spoke to the board regarding the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC) securing a line of credit with its bank, now that it has become a separate legal entity. Stoaks said the ICCOC is requesting approval from each of its member institutions so it can move forward with the process.

“If the request is approved by the ICCOC colleges, this would allow ICCOC to cover large expenses for digital content, like VitalSource, and then bill out the colleges after the term,” Stoaks explained.

The board approved the first amendment to the ICCOC agreement as presented.

Next, the board spoke about the proposed Director Redistricting Plan from the state. The board was presented with the first redistricting plan for SWCC’s region at the April 2023 board meeting and at that time had requested a second drawing from the state.

“This is the second plan that has been provided for us and this plan is very favorable …,” Cass said. “It’s very positive and allows each of the trustees to remain in their respective districts.”

The board approved the second drawing of the Director Redistricting Plan.

In personnel, the board approved the resignation of Dr. Marjorie McGuire-Welch, SWCC president.

“The board has been notified regarding the resignation of Dr. Welch at this time due to personal/family issues,” stated Cass.

McGuire-Welch has been the SWCC president since June 28, 2021. She came to SWCC from Iowa Western where she served as the vice president of academic affairs.

Following the approval of McGuire-Welch’s resignation the board approved the appointment of Stoaks as interim president of the college, followed by the appointment of Dr. John Franklin as interim vice president of instruction. A separate release detailing the appointments of Stoaks and Franklin will be available later this week.

The board then discussed the appointment of a board member to the SWCC Education Foundation board following Smith’s June 1 resignation from the SWCC board of trustees, as well as the Education Foundation board. Smith explained the operations of the Education Foundation board and encouraged current members to volunteer to fill the board of trustee position on the Education Foundation board. Cass said the goal is to have a member appointed during the June board meeting.

Smith, SWCC Community Colleges for Iowa representative, gave a brief report regarding the recent Community Colleges for Iowa meeting. He said the group feels they had a very successful legislative session. The group asked for $8 million in state general aid and arrived at $7.2 million in aid.
Smith, whose June 1 resignation from the board was announced during the March 2023 board meeting then spoke to the board about his time winding down with the college.

“After a few hundred meetings, and lots of years, I would tell you all my participation in this has really enriched my life,” stated Smith. “I’ve met hundreds of people, made hundreds of friends … I’ve learned a lot, have traveled the state and seen lots of community colleges. People don’t realize Iowa is recognized as one of the best community college systems in the country.”

He said he is leaving feeling very good about Southwestern.

Following Smith’s remarks, Cass presented Smith with a plaque and thanked him for his time, talent, and years of service to the college. Smith has been a member of the SWCC board of trustees since 1997.

The board then adjourned and went into a closed Collective Bargaining Strategy Session.

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