UPDATE FROM PRESIDENT, JASON S. WOOD, Ph.D. – May 11, 2020
Thank you for your continued efforts to help our students. Hopefully all of the mothers enjoyed a special day yesterday. We are grateful for the strong women who make a difference throughout our college and in our communities.
Please note that many of our students have financial needs. I appreciate Karyl Nicholson actively referring students to contact financial aid for support. It makes such a difference when a faculty or staff makes the referral. If you become aware of students who need financial support, please refer them to Cora Halverson or Gina Trollop who can help find the right resources to help students. We are committed to helping every single student to the best of our abilities and we do so as quickly as possible. Thank you to the many people who have also provided funds to the Foundation to be used as part of our student support efforts. I am humbled by the continual generosity of our faculty and staff.
- College Forum – Friday, May 15 at noon via zoom: Please send questions or comments before 10 am on Thursday.
- Student Laptops: Please note we are exploring the possibility of providing laptops to all students as a service standard of our college. The Academic Deans are working with IT to investigate the options for implementation as early as this fall. We believe this initiative will save students money, create a competitive advantage, increase our efficiency in supporting students, and improve technology-related student learning in order for better in-person learning to occur. Stay tuned for an update at the College Forum.
- On-Campus Events: We are postponing or canceling nearly all of the on-campus events scheduled for this summer and early fall. There are too many unknowns to commit to non-refundable financial obligations, especially when our campus facilities crew will be overtaxed with additional cleaning protocol just to maintain priority operations including student learning in academic programs. Additional details will be provided as we move forward but some of the events that are affected include:
- 4th of July Golden Knights Celebration – postponed until next year.
- Open House – moved to October 14th as a largely virtual event.
- Homecoming – postponed for at least a year.
- Ag Day – Moved to March.
- New Student Welcome Weekend – Robin Hamel is working with her team to move this to a virtual format in conjunction with online new student orientation.
- Fast Track Days – These have been moved to a virtual format and will continue on a weekly basis. Thank you to the advisors and admissions staff. J
- Public Safety Fright Night – Postponed a year, but might consider a drive-through option this fall.
- Fall Career Fair – Considering online options.
- Hair Show – Postponed indefinitely.
- December Graduation – A decision is on hold until we can learn more.
- Dairy Goat Academy – Will be moved to the spring semester.
- Budget: Because we have been able to save funds for this fiscal year, we will recommend to the Board that the $500 stipend for all faculty and staff be paid during a special pay role cycle in June rather than wait until July. This decision will also minimize the deductions. With unemployment numbers likely passing 15% of the population across the country, we are bucking the trend for as long as possible. The budget proposal going to the Board next week includes all positions being funded for the fiscal year as previously indicated. We are closely watching state leadership for their priorities as they prepare to make difficult decisions that will ultimately impact our college. We hope we are able to use reserves and boost enrollments to put ourselves in the best possible situation.
- Professional Travel for 2020-2021 fiscal year: Due to the unknowns associated with the pandemic and for budgetary reasons, college travel will be limited to in-district only. Exceptions for required program learning outcomes, and possibly other state or federal compliance requirements, will be considered by me as the president but we ask that you do everything possible to make alternative arrangements. We anticipate this decision will save the college nearly $150,000.
As we prepare to return to campus, please be patient and understanding. A great deal of planning is occurring by the Emergency Operations Team. Supervisors have been involved and provided input which has been very helpful. If you can think of considerations that should be included, please feel free to share with your supervisor, facilities crew, or me. Perhaps there will be a short video clip of the new “fogger” sanitization machine currently being used to deep clean campus – we appreciate the people who are doing a great job keeping campus as clean as possible.
There are areas of campus that need to come in prior to June 1st in order to be ready for others to return. Childcare is looking at an August 1 re-opening. Food Services is to be determined. In the near future we will communicate internally regarding the plan across campus. For the time being, please contact Dan Imhoff, Nicole Nelson, or Josh Bedward at least 24 hours in advance of returning to campus so they can be ready for your arrival. We are striving for an appropriate level of service across campus that keeps people as safe and healthy as possible.
Again, we are all experiencing this crisis differently. If you need additional help and support, please reach out to our Employee Assistance Program. Simply contact Life Matters, (Employee Assistance Program info and password attached) for confidential support sessions. We hope the care and support you receive helps you.
You are welcome to visit with your supervisor or someone in Human Resources about your availability to return to on-campus work or other options to continue to work remotely or use accrued leave. We respect and understand that we do not know the personal situation of everyone who visits campus. We will strive to maintain the dignity of each individual as decisions are made to author our new normal. Our collective empathy and kindness will be a big part of the successes we achieve in helping our students learn.
Thank you for all you are doing to stay well and help others. We’ll get there together!
Jason S. Wood, Ph.D.
President of Southwest Tech