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NWCCD Trustees discuss community engagement

SHERIDAN — The academic year now behind them, the Northern Wyoming Community College District Board of Trustees devoted much of their meeting Wednesday evening to discussing ongoing efforts aimed at providing a higher quality experience for instructors and students.

SC President Dr. Paul Young told the board that administrators have recently undertaken community engagement efforts intended to go beyond more traditional one-time events.

“We’ve really realized that what ‘community engagement’ means is aligning with the economic development goals of the communities we serve,” he said.

In addition to several capital construction projects, college officials have remained active in efforts by the Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority to study the area’s existing educational infrastructure and map out a course for future development of the local workforce.

While administrators hope that effort will go on to pay long-term dividends for the community, shorter term initiatives are also underway.

Beginning this fall, SC will begin using students’ high school GPAs as a more heavily weighted component when it comes time to place them in math courses.

Young said the college hopes to eventually expand that more heavily emphasized GPA consideration to English placement procedures as well.

While the college will continue to consider a variety of factors when determining student proficiency, Young said a growing body of research supports the idea that GPA is a stronger indicator of potential success than standardized test scores.

A high GPA, Young said, is often a sign that a student is willing to put in the work necessary to succeed at the college level.

“Those people will get it done,” he said. “Shouldn’t they be given the chance to do college level work?”
Board members also heard from a faculty senate representative on that organization’s recent restructuring of general education requirements.

Recently, course requirements for certain academic programs had expanded in such a way that it was no longer possible for some students to complete their studies in just two years.

At the behest of the administration, SC faculty members revised those requirements last academic year.
The board also discussed a revised process intended to evaluate Young and the perception of the college in the community.

This fall, trustees will interview key community stakeholders to solicit feedback on the performance of the institution and its chief administrator.

Young said he hoped the process would allow for a more comprehensive understanding of exactly how SC can improve in the years to come.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board heard from a pair of students who were among three to represent the college at a prestigious event in Washington D.C. this spring.

Students Deo Lachman and Joseph Graves presented a poster they had previously displayed to Wyoming’s congressional delegation at the Posters on the Hill event sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research.
Along with Duane McMurtry, the two were recognized for their research into proteins found in a specific variety of snake venom.

Advised by Dr. Rob Milne, the team was one of only two community college teams and the only team from Wyoming to present at the national event.

The Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet again at 5:30 p.m. on July 17.

At that meeting, members are expected to approve a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

About

Paolo Cisneros

Paolo Cisneros joined The Sheridan Press staff in August 2012. He covers business, energy and public safety. A Chicago native, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011.

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