Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – Sept 19, 2020

Hi Colleagues,

One of my favorite things to observe in nature are adaptations and transitions.  Sunrises or sunsets, weather in all of its variety, stages of life of other species, seasonal shifts, and many other growth processes in nature intrigue me and capture my imagination.  I also believe there is beauty in the growth we achieve as a college.  Please know how truly grateful I am for each of you making tremendous efforts to serve our students during a pernicious pandemic and societal upheaval and unrest.  Please see the attached Shout Out, sent from Bri Williamson to Nicole Nelson.  Bri conveyed heartfelt appreciation, a specific example, shared the credit (kudos to Kelsey Wagner, Mary Johannesen, Katie Glass, Kyle Bennett, and Kaye Woodke for their roles as Bri mentioned), connected Nicole’s efforts to helping students, and shared the early results.  Sara Bahl heaped well-placed praise on Holly Crubel in the other attached shout out and was concise in her comments.  Both approaches achieve our purposes and there are many others I could have selected as examples because we have several positive outliers who spread happiness naturally. 🙂

Thank you to Karen Campbell who lead the development of the new virtual process which works much quicker now and helps keep the emphasis on the many benefits of saying and receiving a thank you.  I miss signing and hand-delivering each Shout Out but please know I read every single one. See the link on the HUB if you are inclined to send a Shout Out.  I also encourage you to find other meaningful ways to pass along a compliment.  Please realize your recognition of your colleagues touches many lives, especially when such care and diligence as Bri and Sara exhibited are included in your comments.  I think I’ll add observing people’s growth in gratitude and appreciation as another natural adaption of wonder and beauty.  🙂

Here is an update from around the college:

  1. Covid-19: We are seeing a surge in positive tests in Grant County while Richland, Lafayette, Iowa, and Crawford counties are experiencing slower rates of incidents.  You can monitor our campus trends as the new tracker is prominently featured on the Hub homepage.  As many of you know, we have moved a couple of programs to all-online delivery for at least two weeks in response to the situation.  We appreciate everyone doing their part to keep each other healthy.
  2. Enrollments from around the state: Please see the CFO notes email attachment from Caleb (not included online).  You can get a glimpse of enrollments from around the state.  We are currently 2.3% down in FTE compared to this time last year.  With the next session of 8 week classes starting soon, there is a chance to increase the number of people who are able to access our classes. Thank you to the faculty and staff involved with putting these offerings together for students.  I have personally reached out by text, phone, and postcard to several people inviting them to enroll.  Here is more information about this opportunity, in case you want to share it with a friend. 🙂
  3. Health and Wellness:  Last year the college implemented a Health and Wellness Incentive Program.  If you participate in activities to improve your social, physical, financial, emotional well-being, the college will make extra payments into your health savings account. The next wellness initiative payout will be on Friday, October 16, 2020. I’ve attached our brochure as a reference.  To submit your activities for reimbursement, please complete the web form Wellness Initiative Reimbursement Submission Form.  Thank you to Connie Haberkorn and Amy Campbell, along with the entire project team, for their leadership and good work.  I am grateful the Board of Directors invested in this initiative.
  4. Financial Update:  The onsite portion of the annual audit, which had a significant virtual component this year, is completed.  It went exceptionally well!  The audit report will be presented to the Board, most likely in December.  The audited financial data will be available sooner and we anticipate providing the Board with an update in October.  In the meantime, kudos to the whole college for your diligence last year as we are confident our adjusted financials for fiscal year 2019/2020 will be substantially positive.  This is yet another piece of good financial news tempered with the uncertainty we are facing in the unknown length of the pandemic and state revenue report due later this fall.
  5. Policy Updates:  Karen Campbell will be posting the Work Remote and College Closure policies for review.  You can find the proposals on the Hub under announcements.  We have learned a lot about being adaptable and flexible recently.  We would like your input and perspective as updates are considered to address situations like snow days before winter.
  6. Succession Planning:  The Accreditation Liaison Officer position description is posted as an internal recruitment opportunity available to current benefitted employees.  The job search closes on 9/28.  As previously shared, Kim Maier will fill in for Katie Glass while Katie is out on leave for the first three months of 2021.  The Exec Team is meeting for half day work retreats on 9/29 and 10/20 to contemplate future organizational structure options as we adapt to the circumstances. We are confident we have many good people in place and that new opportunities will become available.
  7. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:  Thank you very much for your feedback during the coaching sessions.  The information that was submitted related to a new College Value is rich and will be an excellent foundation for broader conversations.  The Board of Directors will consider a proposal for adding a new value during the October Board retreat. Several faculty, staff, and students have been invited to prepare for the dialog and make recommendations to the Board.
  8. Kudos to
    1. Tonia Breuer for demonstrating the College Values of Learning and Continuous Improvement.  Tonia is enrolled in the Certified Coaching program at UW Madison.  She has applied to the Medical Assistant Education Review Board, to serve as an accreditation site visitor.  And, if that wasn’t enough, Tonia teaches childbirth classes for expectant couples at Southwest Health in Platteville.  Impressive, Tonia!
    2. Fiscal services team for an awesome audit! – Caleb had the following praise to share: “Huge kudos to all involved in preparing for the audit. Special thanks to Kelly Kelly and Kim Govier.   There are no unexpected audit adjustments and lots of admiration from the auditors on how clean our documentation and processes are.  Such a pleasure and a comfort getting to work with professionals so awesome at their jobs!”
    3. Kim Schmelz and Katie Glass for hosting a virtual Orange Frog session for people who missed the January in-service and our new employees. Katie recognized two of our new system analysts, Cal Butteris and Andy Draus, for the positivity and insightful participation.  Long-time employees John Pluemer and Pete Esser shared valuable perspectives from our college’s history.  The group also learned about Vanessa Caldari’s competitive spirit, 5 points to Vanessa! Thank you, participants, for Orange Frog awesomeness!  At Southwest Tech our positivity and choice to embrace happiness empowers us to overcome the thrall, adapt to foil the herons, and build a better campus community in preparation for the deluge.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  I would also greatly appreciate any requests for topics you would like addressed in these updates.  In the meantime, please enjoy a beautiful sunset or sunrise, maybe even with someone you love. 🙂


Jason S. Wood, Ph.D.
President of Southwest Tech

Posted in COVID-19, Update