Saturday, August 16, 2014

The most wonderful time of the year

I absolutely LOVE the month of August! 
This is my favorite time of the year - the anticipation and excitement of the back to school season, the buzz around campus, new school supplies, tomatoes from my garden, the smell of fall in the air, purple ambrosia (a.k.a wild huckleberries) along hiking trails, the color of sun ripened barley, and the smell of fall in the air first thing in the morning. An added bonus is that I celebrate both my birthday and my wedding anniversary in August.
Below are photos of my husband Scott and I at our wedding in Seely Lake, Montana and 21 years later at the Willwood ponds here in Powell.  
Stefani and Scott Hicswa in 1993
(photo by Sheri Rhodes)

Stefani and Scott Hicswa in 2014
(Photo by NWC grad Keith Christensen)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Legislative Update

The following is an excerpt from a recent update I sent to our local legislators:
We had a very productive meeting with UW President Dick McGinity and key staff members earlier this month when they came to Powell to discuss UW acceptance of our transfer students’ credits. It’s a frequently-mentioned concern among our current and prospective students, their parents and high school counselors. NWC participants included academic Division Chair, VPs for Academic Affairs and College Relations, Registrar, and myself. Joining President McGinity were his Associate VP for Academic Affairs, Coordinator of Student Success and Transitions, and Associate Director of UW Extension. In addition to credit transfer, we also discussed the potential of increased UW degree offerings in Park County. They listened closely to our concerns and suggestions. My sense is that Dick is taking the issues seriously, and I appreciate the commitment they made to come to our campus for discussions. Naturally, we want to see our transfer students attend the state’s only four-year university. We’ve worked closely with UW in the past and will continue doing so. I look forward to productive discussions as the JEIC considers this topic.

Construction of our new Yellowstone Building is going well. Our Instructional Technology and Computing Services staffs have considerable work ahead of them in the building however. The first space occupied will be classrooms, and the dividable Conference Center. We have the luxury of transitioning into the rest of the building over time. I’m excited that my second annual Fall State of the College Address on August 20th will be in the Yellowstone Building’s Conference Center! We anticipate an October building dedication ceremony. Legislative funding was paramount in providing just over 60% of funding for the building.

Our Trustees recently approved the new Facility Master Plan, which the college is required to update every five years. It provides a strong road map for development of the physical campus. Projects in the plan total 10s of millions of dollars, with construction of a new DeWitt Student Center being the top unmet need. Completing such enormous projects will undoubtedly require a variety of funding sources.

I spent most of the day on July 2nd getting to know Meeteetse residents. Thanks to Trustee Nada Larsen, I got a first-class introduction to that unique community and its members. I heard several great ideas for ways NWC can improve its service to that area of our district.

We’ve selected a company, Chartwells, to provide dining services to our students. Chartwells has developed a higher education niche and has a strong reputation for understanding, engaging and satisfying students with tailored campus dining service operations. Chartwells assumed operations in July, replacing Aramark with which Northwest contracted for about 25 years. I’m pleased to let you know that the new company has rehired Ken Beebe, longtime Director on campus, and that off-campus catering to community groups will remain a part of services provided.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

89.1 Trapper Radio

What do a saxophone, meatloaf, sunshine, air guitar and jitterbug have in common?

Recently I had the opportunity to be in the studio with Troy Hunt for a recording of his "Pop Music" show on 98.1 Trapper Radio. When he asked me for 15 of my favorite songs to feature on the show, I thought I needed to be there to defend myself so he wouldn't dis my favorite country songs. He had never even heard of David Allen Coe!

It turned out some of the songs on my list were his favorites too. Since we are close to the same age and some of the songs brought back high school memories for both of us we had a great time.

Tune in to Film and Television Instructor Troy Hunt's "Pop Music" show on 89.1 Trapper Radio this Saturday, August 2 at 5 p.m. to find out what a saxophone, meatloaf, sunshine, air guitar and jitterbug have in common. You will probably learn more about me than you ever wanted to know, but you'll get to listen to some great music in the meantime. If you miss it, the show will be rebroadcast on Sunday, August 3 at 11 p.m.

Happy Wednesday!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Park County Fair and Parade

Now that I have been in Powell for a year and have experienced one annual cycle, I am starting to repeat annual events, most recently the Park County Fair and Parade. Below is a photo of the NWC entry in the parade on Saturday.

President Hicswa and future NWC students at the Park County Parade

My family and I spent three evenings at the fair last week. My sons worked the youth hockey booth and I took tickets for Rotary at the grandstand. It was a fun week. Last year we sat with Jory Yates at the pig wrestling. At one point I leaned over to him and said, "We are going to fit in here just fine."  A year later it has proven to be absolutely true.




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Update from the President's Desk

It seems that summer is never long enough!
President Hicswa at Fish Lake west of Dubois, Wyoming 
The above photo was taken on a recent camping trip to Fish Lake where my family and I hiked a few miles of the Continental Divide Trail, mountain biked, and spent plenty of time sitting around the camp fire.
Below is a copy of my July report to the Board of Trustees.
July 14, 2014
I am pleased that NWC’s federal loan default rate of 13.6% is well below the national average of 21% for two-year public colleges.
On June 19th I traveled to Casper to attend the College National Finals Rodeo. Our Men’s Team finished 24th at the CNFR sponsored by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association for which Coach Del Nose serves as a board member. Our Men’s Rodeo Team’s 24th place finish is added to the impressive list of competitive teams finishing their seasons in the top echelon of the nation. Other national finishes by our competitive teams this year include Wrestling (2nd), Volleyball (8th), Journalism (2nd) and Forensics (Bronze).
I was privileged to participate in the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation’s reenactment of the 1944 trial of Heart Mountain draft resisters as part of the 26th Annual Conference of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. Trustee John Housel, Instructor of Sociology and Anthropology Aura Newlin, and I were among “cast members” for the reenactment. Ms. Newlin is a HMW Foundation Board member who deserves special praise for her work in helping host the consortium.
Recently, I was named to the Higher Education Research and Development Institute (HERDI) nationwide advisory board. HERDI provides better products and services for students, faculty and staff of America’s community colleges by facilitating frank and critical dialogue between community college leaders and the business community that seeks to serve us.
I have been asked to present a pre-session workshop for the American Association of Community Colleges Annual Conference in April 2015 on the unique challenges and opportunities of serving as a rural community college president.
We were once again honored to host the Wyoming American Legion Auxiliary Girls State on our campus June 7-14. Vice President Sean Fox greeted the group at their opening on June 7th, and I had the opportunity to speak with them at their graduation ceremony on June 14th. 
On July 8th I met with UW President McGinity and a few of his staff members to discuss transfer and increased degree offerings in partnership with NWC. Joining President McGinity were Dr. Alyson Hagy, UW Associate VP for Academic Affairs; Dr. Patrice Noel, UW Coordinator of Student Success and Transitions; and Kelly Crane, Associate Director of UW Extension.   
I had the opportunity to serve as the guest on KODI Radio’s Speak Your Piece talk show in Cody with alumnus Bryce Cornatzer on May 4. Vice President Mark Kitchen and I attended the annual National Parks Day luncheon sponsored by the Cody Chamber of Commerce on May 19th.
I met with Cody Superintendent Ray Schulte May 27th to discuss concurrent enrollment and other issues. Leah Bruscino, Wyoming Business Council’s Northwest Region Field Operations Director, and I met on July 3rd to discuss partnership opportunities. I have been actively involved in the Forward Cody Board and Powell Economic Partnership Board.
On July 2nd I traveled to Meeteetse to get to know community members better and hear their ideas for ways we can improve our service to our tax district. I appreciate Trustee Nada Larsen making the arrangements.
Vice President Gerry Giraud and I met with representatives from Choice Aviation on June 17th to discuss terms for the renewal of our memorandum of understanding with them for our Aeronautics program.
Nurses pinning and Commencement were particularly poignant, as I ended my first year as president with this graduating class. We granted 354 degrees and 43 certificates during 2013-14.
Members of the Professional Staff Care Committee and their families joined my family for dinner at my home Wednesday, May 21st. The following week, the custodial and grounds crew joined us for an appreciation BBQ in my backyard.
On June 28th I attended my first NWC alumni reunion. Alumni from each decade were in attendance including two from the class of 1946 and a future alumnus who will start at NWC this fall. It was a joy to meet everyone and hear stories of their experiences as students.
Foundation Executive Director Shelby Wetzel and I continue to discuss ways we can leverage foundation dollars with college needs as well as match college needs with donor preferences. In addition, we have met with donors regarding the Yellowstone Building, large legacy gifts, and special projects. 
 Enjoy these warm summer days!