The Wilkes Community College Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, August 10, at the John A. Walker Center. Cynthia Alford, executive assistant to the president and board liaison, administered the oath of office to the following reappointed trustees Ricky Brown, Keith Elmore, Arnold Lakey, and Jay Vannoy.
The business session began with the approval of the minutes from the May 12, 2021, Board of Trustees meeting.
Buildings and Grounds Committee
State construction rules allow colleges to enter into open-end design agreements with architects for work on small projects where the cost is below $500,000. Designers for open-end design agreements must be selected in accordance with the college’s designer selection process for informal projects. This involves advertising for proposals and interviews by the building and grounds committee. An advertisement for interested architects was published in late June, with submittals due on July 22. Architect packets will be screened and three will be selected for interview by the end of August.
The board approved giving the building and grounds committee authority to approve an open-end design agreement with the selected architect and report said selection at the October meeting.
The board received an update the Ashe Campus Expansion project is nearing completion, with the classroom/lab building expected to be ready for the start of the fall 2021 semester and the cosmetology/industrial lab building slated to be complete in October. The dedication ceremony is scheduled for October 21, 2021.
The board received an update on the Cosmetology Renovation project at Herring Hall. The college worked with HH Architecture on a detailed cost study which resulted in an increase in the estimated project cost, related to construction material/labor inflation and additional square footage to be renovated.
Upon recommendation from the building and grounds committee, the board approved proceeding with the cosmetology renovation project with the revised budget.
The board received updates on federal coronavirus relief funds, county budget appropriations, and the state budget.
The board gave authority to the finance committee to approve the 2021-2022 state budget allocation and other budget related items that require action before the board’s October meeting, reporting the same at the October meeting.
The NC Senate passed their version of the 2021-2022 biennial state budget in late June. The NC House expects to complete and pass its version of the budget in early August. Once the House budget is completed, a conference committee will be established to work out the differences between the two versions.
Highlights of the Senate budget impacting WCC include the following:
- One-time funding to fully offset FTE funding losses due to enrollment declines associated with COVID-19.
- 3% salary increase (1.5% each year) for community college faculty/staff.
- Compensation bonus of $1,500 (employees with a salary of $75,000 or less) or $1,000 (employees with a salary of greater than $75,000).
- Funds to continue to provide tuition grants (Longleaf Commitment) to eligible 2021 and 2022 high school graduates that enroll in a NC community college and funds to support enhanced advising and other student support activities related to this program.
- Establishment of the North Carolina Community College Short‐Term Workforce Development Grant Program that will award grants in an amount of up to $750 to students pursuing short‐term, noncredit State and industry workforce credentials.
- $400 million in capital funding ($100 million each year) for community colleges. WCC’s allocation would be $5,514,320.
The 2020-2021 Presidential Scholarship and SAGE Fellows program were supported through individual and corporate donations with a total of $161,500 being raised. These two programs will be supported by the MerleFest Mega Raffle. The 2021 MerleFest Mega Raffle raised $154,456.90.
The 2020-2021 Annual Fund drive raised $76,565.40 that supports WCC students through the following allocations:
- Food Pantry
- Study Abroad
- Doc Watson Student Emergency
The MerleFest team has been busy during the last 12 months planning for this year’s festival that will take place on September 16-19. The festival will return to April in 2022, and plans are well underway for the 2022 festival. MerleFest officials have worked closely with state and local health officials to make the necessary adjustments to make MerleFest as safe as possible.
Adjustments include the following:
- Earlier gate openings each day to minimize congestion in the box office area.
- The creation of a new pedestrian exit to create a safer exit for a large number of people.
- Changes in the food tent to allow more spacing for people ordering food.
- All backstage meals will be served in to-go boxes to allow for fans and artists to take food to less crowded areas.
- The creation of an online pre-sale of all MerleFest apparel to meet customer demands and eliminate long lines during the festival.
- There will not be program entertainment in The Pit auditorium due to the size of the room and the inability to increase fresh airflow, and school day and school outreach will not happen in 2021.
- Over 75 hand sanitizers and hand wash stations will be provided across festival grounds, and continuous sanitizing will occur all 4 days.
- The complete lineup and the most up-to-date safety protocols can be found at
The complete lineup and the most up-to-date safety protocols can be found at www.merlefest.org.
Tickets went on sale in July and August for the 2021-2022 season of shows at the Walker Center. A complete list of the shows can be found on their website at walkercenteronline.org.
For the 2021-2022 year, and by recommendation of the nominating committee, the board of trustees named Jay Vannoy to serve as chairperson; Larry Stone as vice-chairperson; and Josh Roten as secretary to the board.
The board recognized outgoing chairperson, Terry Bumgarner for his exceptional leadership as chair of the WCC Board Trustees from 2017 – 2021.
In response to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACSCOC) standard that requires students who register in a distance or correspondence education course or program to be the same student who participates and completes the course or program and receives the credit, the board reviewed the following addition to WCC’s Electronic Signature Policy: Prior to testing via an online platform or at an approved testing center, students are also required to show proof of identity by providing an official photo identification.
The amendment was made in response to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACSCOC) standard that requires students who register in a distance or correspondence education course or program to be the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit.
The board approved the amendment to the Electronic Signature Policy as presented.
New employees since the board last met include Paige Belt, Administrative Assistant for the Alleghany Center, effective June 1, 2021; Tara Stollenmaier, WCC Community Resource Development Specialist, effective June 1, 2021; Ashley Van Hoy, Scholarship Coordinator for the WCC Education Promise Scholarship program, effective June 7, 2021; Christine Thomas, Advisor/Counselor/ACA Instructor for the Ashe Campus, effective June 21, 2021; Devin Royal, Human Resources Specialist for WCC, effective July 15, 2021; and Shannon Holden, Gardens/Grounds Technician effective July 15, 2021.
Employees assuming new roles at WCC is Frank Blevins, Animal Science/Horticulture instructor. Mr. Blevins has been employed as the lead instructor for Applied Animal Science, effective August 1, 2021.
Resignations received since the board last met include Freda Eller, custodian, effective April 30, 2021; Jimmy Norton, custodian, effective April 30, 2021; Taryne Seatz, administrative assistant, Ashe Campus, effective June 25, 2021; Matt Greene, lead instructor, Animal Science/Agribusiness, effective June 30, 2021; and Sabrina Bowman, Health Sciences Admissions Advisor/Student Life Coordinator, effective August 5, 2021.
Other personnel changes include the retirement of Susan Nilo, Director of Alleghany Center, effective July 31, 2021; and the death of Clegg Scroggs, WCC Police lieutenant, who passed away on June 10, 2021.
Terry Bumgarner, board chair, shared details of the next trustee orientation/education session, as prescribed in G.S. 115 D-19(b), will be held from Wednesday, September 22 through Friday, September 24, 2021.
Chairman Bumgarner confirmed the following reappointments: Ricky Brown, appointed by Alleghany County Commissioners; Keith Elmore, appointed by Wilkes County Commissioners; Arnold Lakey, appointed by the Governor; and Jay Vannoy, appointed by Wilkes County Board of Education.
College President’s Report
Dr. Cox gave a COVID-19 update and the WCC’s plans for the 2021 fall semester that begins August 18. Additional information can be found on the college website under the COVID-19 page.
Dr. Cox informed the board that Clegg Scroggs, WCC Campus Police Lieutenant Investigator, passed away on June 10, 2021. He added that Clegg joined Wilkes Community College in 2014 and will be greatly missed. The college extends their deepest sympathy to his family. In remembrance of Clegg, Dr. Cox asked the trustees to join him in a moment of silence.
Dr. Cox provided the board an update from the NC Association of Community College Presidents (NCACCP). Dr. Cox will serve as Vice President of the NCACCP for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.
Dr. Cox stated that the Naming of Facilities Task Force met and unanimously approved the following naming opportunity of the new Ashe Campus building to WCC Ashe Campus Poe Hall in honor of James Kent Poe.
Upon recommendation from the Naming of Facilities Taskforce, the board approved naming the new Ashe Campus building, WCC Ashe Campus Poe Hall.
The WCC Board of Trustees will meet again on Thursday, October 21, 2021, at the Ashe Campus.