Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – Nov 20, 2020
Thank you for working at the college. We are grateful for the positive impact you make on students, with your co-workers, and in your communities. Please remember to take care of yourself. The Wellness Committee provides a wealth of resources emphasizing self-care. When you complete activities in certain areas, the College deposits additional funds into your health savings account. We also realize sometimes self-care is not enough. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP info attached) is designed to be a confidential way to access professional care. I am grateful for counselors who have helped me from time to time to work through my struggles. If you are feeling overwhelmed, please access the EAP or seek help from your family physician. I care about you. There are many of your work friends who care about you. And we know there are people outside of work who care about you. Please take care of yourself.
- Please remember the importance of limiting the spread of the virus during the coming days and weeks. We hope you can enjoy the holidays, perhaps in new ways, and stay healthy. Limiting contact with others, wearing masks, getting tested, and frequently washing hands all help protect you and others. Please report your contact with others who have tested positive, if you or someone in your household experience symptoms, or if you are being tested and the results. The information helps us determine when it is safe to continue opening or if we need to be more restrictive in allowing access to campus. If you are experiencing symptoms, please stay home and do not come to campus until you receive clearance from the Krista Weber and Dan Imhoff.
- Please see the COVID testing sites being offered locally. We encourage people to get tested to help slow the asymptomatic spread of the virus. We are exploring testing policies for faculty, staff, and students in case the situation continues to deteriorate. It is likely we will experiment with taking temperatures and/or testing before the end of the semester. We appreciate your patience, cooperation, and feedback. Our goal remains to try and start the semester in January the same as we finish classes this term.
- The IHeartSWTC Employee Giving campaign kicked off on Tuesday and runs through Friday, December 4. Every year for the past four years, more than 90% of employees have given a gift to the Foundation to support students. We are currently at 70% for the current year. Your gift of any amount to any fund helps our students. New this year – employee gifts or pledges to endowments will be matched so your gift can make twice the impact! Emails were sent to faculty and staff with details of the campaign and links to ways to give. Please reach out to the Foundation staff if you have any questions.
- Equity and Inclusion Lead to Diversity: Our January In-Service will feature principles of Orange Frog to help us better serve students who qualify as Special Populations as defined by the Wisconsin Technical College System (statutory criteria #9). In the meantime, please share with me any of the efforts you feel are successfully helping these students be more successful.
- Succession Planning: As announced at the College Forum, we will be replacing the Chief Student Services Officer position before the end of the calendar year with an internal search. Katie Garrity served as the CSSO over the last year and a half as well as the Chief Academic Officer and recently agreed to assume shared responsibility for the Accreditation Liaison Officer duties. We need to re-balance the load and I am grateful to Katie for her good work. Please see the attached email for more information. The Acting President policy is under review and will be considered by the Board in February. In addition, we will be adjusting the composition and meeting schedule for our Exec and Exec Plus teams beginning in January. As a reminder from when COVID started, we increased the frequency of our meetings, decreased the number of people included, and empowered the COVID Operations Team to oversee the response to the virus. We have also discontinued the Board Prep team. We will listen to ideas and suggestions during the 12/7 Listening Session or you are welcome to visit with me regarding your thoughts and ideas. The primary reason for adjustments is to account for constantly shifting dynamics due to the pandemic.
- Project RiSE: Thank you to the many people who continue to work on implementing the new Enterprise Resource Planning solution. We are essentially “on time and on budget” with additional details shared recently during the College Forum.
- Enrollment: To impact January enrollment, we will offer 10 STEP scholarships for the Charge Forward Program and 10 STEP scholarships for previous Southwest Tech students who did not finish their program. These scholarships, potentially worth up to $3,500, are for students who are not enrolled this fall and will be used to recruit new students in the identified areas. Please refer interested and eligible people to Kyle Bennett so the recruitment team can reach out to the prospect. More information about both STEP scholarships are available at: www.swtc.edu/janstep and www.swtc.edu/chargeforwardstep.
- Student Led Community Engagement: The Blue Line Club, which is comprised of students in public safety/law enforcement, is conducting a Winter Clothing Drive. If you have new or gently used winter clothing or blankets, please drop off your donation at the east entrance of the Southwest Public Safety building or just inside the main entrance of the Southwest Tech campus, near the Bookstore. Special thanks to Danielle Brockway, Club President, for her leadership with this initiative.
- “Charger Tech 360”: As you know, we provided all students laptops this year. We have conducted surveys and interviews to learn more about student usage and ways to improve the program. Most importantly, we need everyone to understand this initiative is about more than just the hardware. The offering includes IT support and potentially pre-loaded digital resources varying from program to program. Please stay tuned for updates as we consider ways to improve.
- Board Meeting Update:
- The “Pre-Meeting” presentation featured students from Adult Basic Education, Phon-a-Thon callers, and automotive students who helped with the Winterize Your Wheels offering. See attached for more details. We appreciate hearing from students and those who help them achieve their goals. Their message certainly sets a positive tone for the meeting.
- Consistent with our 10-year facilities plan, we are in year 3, the Board gave final approval and accepted the low bid to convert 413 into a large lecture hall/auditorium. Construction will begin prior to the end of the year. We are confident the facility will serve us well when the pandemic ends or function as a space for larger classes to practice social distancing if the problems persist. A few agriculture classes were displaced as part of a two year plan to move in this direction and we will be adopting enrollment goals and fiscal stewardship expectations to guide and accommodate ag moving forward.
- The 2021-2022 Budget Process was shared with the Board and can be found in the packet.
- Shout Out to…
- Student Senate! Our student leaders have been flexible and compassionate in supporting other students with initiatives like the Holiday Project, Thanksgiving meals, Winter Clothing drive, Winterize Your Wheels, and more. Well done!
- Stacey Place for hosting me in a class with 2nd year students in the Physical Therapy Assistant program. They asked excellent questions and had some good feedback. I am grateful to Stacey for helping these students continue to learn in a very “hands-on” program!
- Christina Winch for inviting me to attend several of her ag classes. Her students are very grateful we are able to keep classes open for in-person learning. Christina is doing an excellent job accommodating their individual circumstances!
I hope you will each join me in stepping away from work during the thanksgiving break. We have many, many faculty and staff who are putting in long hours at work and, while your efforts are greatly appreciated, I would be even more thankful to know that you will commit to a true 4-day break. During this time of gratitude, I consider myself fortunate to work with you and the successes we share. Please take care because you do matter so very much.
Jason S. Wood, Ph.D.
President of the College