The Wilkes Community College Board of Trustees met on Thursday, January 25, in Hayes Hall located on the Wilkes Campus.

Prior to the start of the business session, Dr. Cox shared the most recent information regarding the comprehensive strategic planning process for Wilkes Community College. Dr. Cox stated that the college will use the coming months as an opportunity to reflect and plan for what can be done to become the strongest possible educational institution for the communities, economies, students, and families of Ashe, Alleghany, and Wilkes.

The business session began with approval of the minutes from the October 12, 2017 Board of Trustees meeting.

College President’s Report

Dr. Cox congratulated the 2017 Outstanding Staff and Faculty Award recipients. The 2017 Teaching in Excellence Award went to Jennifer Hastings. Currently, Jennifer serves as the lead instructor of the dental assisting program in the new state-of-the-art health sciences facility at Herring Hall. She is a member of the NC Association of Dental Assisting Educators, American Dental Assistants Association, and she serves as the facility chairperson on the Wilkes Dental Consortium board for the Wilkes Public Health Dental Clinic. This past year Jennifer’s skills were also rewarded when the Dental Assisting Program was recertified by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Dental Assisting.

The 2017 Outstanding Staff Member of the Year went to Rose Brown, grants accounting specialist for WCC. Ms. Brown’s position carries quite a workload, and her proficiency is proven repeatedly throughout her work. One nominator was quoted as saying: “My office is not located on campus and she willingly goes to the appropriate persons on campus to collect all signatures in a timely manner.” Another is quoted as saying; “She shows her strength and passion for her position by her longevity of 33 years.”

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 15 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 Stacee Whitley, administrative assistant for Health Sciences, effective November 11, 2017 and Patricia Parsons, public information officer, effective December 8, 2017.

Retirements announced since the last board meeting are Bill Blackburn, construction technician, effective April 1, 2018 and Gary Roath, grounds technician, effective April 1, 2018. Two resignations were received from Teresa Lovelace, administrative assistant, bookstore technician-Ashe Campus, effective November 17, 2017 and Shannan Roark, English instructor, effective December 15, 2017. An employee assuming a new role, is Meret Burke, in the position of English Instructor, effective January 1, 2018.

Buildings and Grounds Committee

The board approved naming the new welding and diesel facility at the WCC Alleghany Center, The Blan Bottomley Welding and Diesel Lab, in memory of Blan Bottomley, at the request of his wife, Martha Bottomley and family. Mr. Bottomley and family own the Bottomley Ever Greens and Farms, Inc. business in Alleghany County as well as similar businesses in other states.

The board approved to give the building and grounds committee the authority to approve the guaranteed energy savings performance contract and report the decision at the April board meeting.

WCC’s annual energy consumption report submitted to the State Energy Office shows total energy costs for the college decreased from $757,643 for fiscal 2016 to $713,384 for fiscal 2017. This includes usage of electricity, natural gas, water, and other utilities.

Finance Committee

The 2017-2018 WCC Annual Fund drive began July 1, 2017 with the faculty, staff, and foundation board members. The goal is $60,000 for the campaign with 100% participation from foundation board members and trustees. As of December 1, 2017, $36,136.07 has been contributed. Annual fund priorities for this year include the Doc Watson Fund (student emergency), GED/HI Set Scholarships, Study Abroad, WCC SkillsUSA and unrestricted funds.

The Walker Center is experiencing another successful year and attendance to date has remained strong. Dinners before the shows are again very popular and remain at maximum capacity. The remaining two shows for the season will be One Night in Memphis on Friday, March 16, and The Heart Behind the Music (featuring Teddy Gentry, Kim Carnes, and John Ford Coley) closing out the season on Thursday, May 17, 2018. The Walker Center Events Advisory Committee has met, and plans are progressing for the 2018–2019 season which will be announced on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the last show of this season.

The initial MerleFest 2018 lineup was announced on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, which again features a mix of new and returning artists representing a wide array of genres. The initial lineup features legendary performer Kris Kristofferson, country music artist Jamey Johnson, Robert Earl Keen, The Devil Makes Three, Balsam Range and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The McCrary Sisters, Paul Thorn, Sam Bush Band and many more. There are several acts still being negotiated with plans to announce more artists in January, February, and March. Opening day ticket sales occurred on Tuesday, November 14 at noon.

Volunteer applications are now being accepted to work at the 2018 festival. To date, 312 volunteer applications have been received. The sponsorship team is continuing to work in acquiring both cash and in-kind support. Appreciation is extended to Window World as the presenting sponsor for the next several years.

Program and Planning Committee

In accordance with State Board of Community College Code (1B SBCCC 400.98, 1D SBCCC 300.4) the board approved the Continuing Education Accountability and Integrity Policy. An overview was given of the Annual Meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools–Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) which was held December 3-5 in Dallas, Texas. WCC representative were Dr. Jeff Cox, President; Kim Faw, VP of Instructional Support & Student Services; Scott Johnson, Dean of Student Services; Kelly Pipes, Executive Director of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness; Michael Wingler, Vice President of Information Technology; and Cinnamon Martin, Dean of Arts and Sciences. WCC’s constituents attended informative sessions including several sessions related to the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and WCC’s topic of online learning, as well as structured and guided pathways.

Employability Services conducted a variety of workshops and activities during 2017 to help students develop employability and job search skills to prepare for the workforce. There was a total of 52 workshops with 651 participants. Topics included: Resumes which was presented to WCC classes and open workshops; interviews, which was presented to WCC classes, open workshops, and to Health Science students at West Wilkes High School; College Central Network & Job Search, which was presented to WCC classes, open workshops, and to the Wilkes Chamber of Commerce Small Business Meeting; LinkedIn, an open workshop; employer expectations and professionalism, an open workshop; Digital Dirt & Your Internet Presence, which was presented to WCC classes, Work- Based Learning Orientation, Early College Career Connections, and during Smart Lunches and ALP (Alternate Learning Program) classes at Wilkes Central, East, and North High School. Invited by Communities in Schools and Jobs 101, presented to Gear Up Steam Academy.

It was reported that there were 831 participants for the following activities: Medical Assisting Career Panel Discussion, 10 mini-mock interviews for the Dental Assisting class, SkillsUSA Regional Head Judge for Job Interviews, Spring Etiquette Luncheon – Mary John Boswell from Charlotte served as moderator, 167 new students signed up for the new Jobs Now Alert System to receive job notices via text and/or email, Career Services’ Meet and Greet events, Digital Scavenger Hunts, and Job Fair with NCWorks Career Center. Through numerous career counseling events that were provided during 2017, WCC was able to assist 1,447 students with their career choices.

For 2017, the WCC Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program featured diverse activities and programs, along with increased attendance compared to last year.

The 34th Annual Northwest Fire and Rescue College was held on the Wilkes Community College campus the first weekend of November. While attendance was down a bit from previous years, the Northwest Fire and Rescue College continues to attract firefighters from the WCC service area and the surrounding region. Similar events at other community college’s in the region have had dramatic decreases in enrollment in recent years. The strong participation in WCC’s fire college reflects the continued strength and dedication of volunteers in the service area and an overall commitment to a quality event that meets the needs of local and regional volunteers. Planning is now underway for the 35th fire college to be held the weekend of November 4, 2018.

In the spring semester of 2017, Wilkes Community College administered to students in primarily sophomore level classes the Noel Levitz Students Satisfaction Inventory Survey. This survey was distributed to 40 traditional classes representing each functional area of the college in Wilkes, Ashe, and Allegany counties and generated 364 responses. This survey is conducted to gauge the satisfaction of students with various programs and services offered by the college. With this information, programs and functional units across the college can develop and implement plans for improvement and then reassess them as part of the college’s continuous improvement process. Results from the survey were generally quite positive, with most areas exceeding national norms.

The WCC Board of Trustees will meet again on April 12, 2018, at the John A. Walker Center Ballroom.