The Wilkes Community College Board of Trustees met on Thursday, January 10 at the John A. Walker Center. Prior to the start of the business session, WCC President, Dr. Cox and Vice President of Strategy, Zach Barricklow provided an update of WCC’s Strategic Plan.

The business session began with approval of the minutes from the December 14, 2018 Board of Trustees meeting.

Recognition to Outgoing Trustee, J. Gene Faile

Dr. Cox and Terry Bumgarner, board chair, recognized Gene Faile with a plaque and resolution to commemorate his service to the Wilkes Community College Board of Trustees. Mr. Faile has served on the WCC board since July 2017 and was appointed by the Wilkes County Board of Education. Faile will be relocating to Raleigh, N.C. upon his retirement as President and CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health, Wilkes Medical Center. The board extended kudos to Faile for his outstanding service to WCC and Wilkes County.

L-R: Dr. Jeff Cox, Gene Faile, and Terry Bumgarner.

Oath of Office to New Student Government Representative

Cynthia Alford, executive assistant to Dr. Cox and Board Liaison, gave the oath of office to the board’s new Student Government Representative (SGA), Greg Rosales-Navarro. As SGA president, Roasales-Navarro represents the WCC student body on the WCC Board of Trustees.

College President’s Report

Dr. Cox congratulated the 2018 Outstanding Staff and Faculty Award recipients.

The 2018 Teaching in Excellence Award went to Lora Davis, instructor at the Ashe Campus. According to the nomination letter received, Davis was nominated as a result of her devotion, leadership, professional attitude, and apparent desire for teaching. She first came to Wilkes Community College as an adjunct art instructor in August 2009 and joined the college full-time in August 2013. She carries a varied teaching load, ranging from arts and humanities courses to serving as the primary ACA instructor at the Ashe Campus. As part of her teaching, she has eagerly embraced new ideas to better serve her students, as she was the first instructor to use SKYPE to teach between campuses and was the instructor for the first Summer Bridge program at the Ashe Campus. In addition to her teaching, she is recognized by her students as an excellent advisor and works diligently to provide opportunities beyond the classroom – to name a few – she organized the Transfer 101 day with ASU, organized college visits to East Tennessee State University, UNCC, and ASU, she has also chaperoned field trips to the Renaissance Fair and visits to local synagogues and mosques with her fellow instructors. Most importantly, this instructor fosters a love of learning among her students which is reflected in her evaluations where students call her classes “the best”, remark on how much they learn, and how she “genuinely cares about them”, all within a set of high ethical standards that are clearly defined and help prepare students for life after college.

The 2018 Outstanding Staff Member of the Year went to Faye Handy, Senior Administrative Assistant College Readiness. According to the nomination letter received, Handy was nominated for this honor because she embodies the term of “self-starter”. From the outset, she has applied her intelligence, initiative, common sense, and good humor to the numerous vital tasks of her job. This employee starts her day early to focus on tasks at hand that keep the division running smoothly and makes herself available to greet students and staff as they arrive. Her expertise has been instrumental in the department’s successful audits, monitors, and evaluations over the years. She was acknowledged for her role by federal monitors as one who kept impeccable records. This employee is actively involved in WCC activities as she participates in the calendar committee, the web committee, staff council, and the CCR taskforce. She is defined as exceptional and an inspiration to all who know and work with her.

Terry Bumgarner, chair of the WCC Board of Trustees, announced the next trustee orientation/education session scheduled for April in Raleigh. He also reminded trustees of the April 16 deadline for filing the annual Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) with the N.C. State Ethics Commission.

Personnel Committee

The trustees reviewed biographical narratives on new employees who began work since the board last met. They are Chris Kearley, instructor for the Applied Career Technologies division, effective October 1, 2018l; Amber Blackburn, purchasing agent for WCC, effective November 1, 2018; Chris Cox, construction/maintenance technician, effective November 1, 2018; Carolyn Cope-Myers, counselor, Student Services and Career and College Promise at the Ashe Campus, effective November 5, 2018; Adam Parsons, data analyst for WCC, effective November 5, 2018; Craig Greer Campus Police Officer, effective December 1, 2018; and Thomas Schlitt, Director of Sage, effective December 17, 2018.

Retirements announced since the last board meeting are Robert Doyle, lead instructor, electronics/applied engineering, effective December 31, 2018 and Kim Barfield, purchasing agent, effective December 31, 2018.

Buildings and Grounds Committee

WCC’s annual energy consumption report submitted to the State Energy Office shows total energy costs for the college of $810,499 for Fiscal 2018. This includes usage of electricity, natural gas, water, and other utilities.

Finance Committee

Morgan Francis, chief financial officer, informed the board that with WCC being a somewhat large organization, the college sometimes gets questions from vendors and others as to who at the college is authorized to sign documents and otherwise enter into binding agreements on behalf of the college. The board approved an update to the existing authorization that gives authority to the president, chief financial officer, and board chair to sign documents and otherwise enter into binding agreements. This update was in response to documentation requirements for the filing of a life insurance claim (for which the college is beneficiary) for a garden endowment donor.  

The 2018-2019 WCC Annual Fund drive began July 1, 2018 with the faculty, staff, and foundation board members. The goal is $63,000 for the campaign. As of December 28, 2018, $36,137 has been contributed. Annual fund priorities for this year include the Doc Watson Fund (student emergency), food pantry, GED/HI Set Scholarships, Study Abroad, WCC SkillsUSA and unrestricted funds. The college family saw a 25% increase in giving with the “lunch a month” payroll deduction program.

The 2018-2019 Walker Center season has had three performances, including Dailey and Vincent, Under the Streetlamp, and Deep in the Heart of Christmas – the Texas Tenors. The remaining three shows of the season are Mike Farris and the Fortunate Few, Artrageous, and The Oak Ridge Boys who will close the season on May 10, 2019. The Walker Events Advisory Committee met on December 3 and plans are progressing for the 2019–2020 season which will be announced on Thursday, May 10, 2019 at the last show of this season. Work will begin to secure sponsors for each season show. Bookings for Hospitality Services remain strong in comparison to last year.

The initial MerleFest 2019 lineup was announced on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 10 a.m. The lineup again features a mix of new and returning artists that represent a wide array of genres. The initial lineup includes Wynonna & the Big Noise, Keb Mo, Tyler Childers, Sam Bush, The Earls of Leicester, Peter Rowan and The Free Mexican Air Force, Scythian, Donna the Buffalo, The Waybacks, and many more. In December an additional lineup announcement was made that included Brandi Carlile, Dailey and Vincent, and Brother Brothers. Work is currently ongoing to secure additional acts. Plans are to announce more artists in January and February which will continue to build enthusiasm as the festival nears.

Volunteer applications are now being accepted to work at the 2019 festival. Since most applications are coming in electronically, applications are running ahead of schedule. To date, more applications have been processed and placed than at this time last year.

 Program and Planning Committee

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges held its 123rd Annual Meeting at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA, December 8-11, 2018. WCC attendees were Dr. Jeff Cox, Michael Wingler, Blair Hancock, Kendra Perkins, Scott Johnson, Ronald Dollyhite, and Christy Earp. The Annual Meeting serves as a platform for member institutions to share ideas and strategies that have led to improved results and lessons learned within the following tracks: Organization, Reflection, Learning, Engagement, Analytics, Networks, and Special Topics. Advising, dual enrollment, completion strategies, data analysis, and SACSCOC policies were among the session topics WCC participants cited as particularly valuable and relevant. Attendees also focused on learning to what extent recent changes in SACSCOC accreditation principles would impact their areas. A highlight of most SACSCOC annual meetings is speakers for the General Sessions. This year artist Phil Hansen inspired attendees to think “inside the box” by taking advantage of the tools and resources colleges already possess. Dr. Cox pointed out, “We could all learn from that.”

Employability Services conducted a variety of workshops and participated in numerous activities during 2018 to help students develop employability and job search skills to prepare for the workforce.

There were 46 workshops with 501 participants for the following: resume building, job interviews, job search tips, LinkedIn, employer expectations and professionalism, digital dirt and your internet presence, and career services resources.

There were 556 participants in the following activities: early college panel discussion, SkillsUSA regional competition judge, spring etiquette luncheon, meet and greets in career services, event to market WCC Career Services and their upcoming workshops/events, 2018 job fair, and assistance with Fall Finish Line Grant applications. Through numerous career counseling events that were provided during 2018, WCC was able to assist 1,057 students with their career choices.

From August 2018 through December 2018, WCC Career Coaches assisted 481 high school students through individual meetings and developing academic plans. The Career Coaches combined conducted 120 group information sessions. Six coaches assisted 4,970 students.

For 2018, the WCC Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program featured diverse activities and program. For all 15 educational events, approximately 820 individuals participated.

Over 340 firefighters and rescue personnel from across the state attended Wilkes Community College’s 35th Northwest Fire & Rescue College held on campus November 2-4, 2018. Attendees spent the weekend in one or more of 25 courses that were offered, including multiple hands-on training opportunities both on campus, at the fire training center, and at other locations. In addition to providing many unique training activities for public safety personnel, the Fire & Rescue College also has a significant economic impact on Wilkes County.

The WCC Board of Trustees will meet again on March 6, 2019, at the John A. Walker Center Ballroom.