Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – Dec 7, 2020

Good Evening, Colleagues.  I hope you are well.

We were grateful to see many of you at the College Forum.  The recording will be posted on the Hub.  We are thankful for the feedback we have received and recognize there are many options, sometimes competing perspectives, regarding our response to COVID.  If you have suggestions for improvements, please send those to your supervisor, HR, or me.  We’ll do our best to consider the options and provide you with how it helped or why we went in a different direction.  In nearly all cases, the more important factor influencing our success to continue to serve students will be our shared commitment to achieving the best possible results for each situation.  Your efforts to help our students continue to make a difference.

  1. COVID Response:  As positive cases rise and our health care system is stressed, we are exploring ways to keep campus open for instruction that requires in-person, hands-on learning.  We are experimenting with temperature checks during the month of December.  We are increasing access for students in emergency first responder trainings by establishing new protocol for assessing and assuming risk with informed consent which will help more students complete their programs and join the workforce.  We will evaluate the feasibility and value of testing people who need access to campus.  We are trying to learn more about vaccine availability.  Updates and instructions will be provided during in-service in January.  Your thoughts and ideas are welcome as we also seek guidance from health officials, our insurance/legal providers, and expert advice from various sources.  Finally, a series of online and in-person courses will be scheduled for the second 8-week block of spring term classes as we hope to expand our efforts to reopen.  We were among the first to re-open and we are committed to safely continuing that process.
  2. Budget Priorities:  Every year we develop Budget Priorities starting in December, feedback from the Board in February, and then culminating with formal Board approval through the public hearing process.  We will initiate the process this year using a modified version of “Shark Tank”.  Please ask your supervisor for more details if you are interested.  We hope adding a creative, engaging, grass-roots effort will encourage innovative and entrepreneurial proposals.  It continues to be my belief that we need to grow our way out of the pandemic regardless of how the public health crisis unfolds.  So while our financial situation is uncertain regarding legislative investments, we will pursue the pros and cons of using some of our reserve funds to either weather the storm or pursue opportunities to improve our college…hopefully both.  Assessing both paths simultaneously should maximize the options and allow us to adapt to the circumstances which emerge later in the spring and summer.  Please note our highest priority to ensure we serve students is to honor our commitment to maintain staffing levels through June 30, 2021.
  3. Charger Tech 360:  Please see the attached email (PDF) for detailed information regarding the ways we are striving to provide access to technology for our students.  We are also working to help students address access to the internet.  If you have a student who needs connectivity, please refer them to Heath Ahnen at this time.  This program has developed quickly and continues to adapt based on feedback and usage data.  After the spring semester starts, an evaluation will occur to determine how to proceed with the program in the future.
  4. Listening Sessions:  Thank you to those who participated in the first Listening Session last week.  We also appreciate the feedback on how to improve.  One of the commonly suggested ideas will provide for peer-to-peer listening and discussions in smaller groups.  If you are available and interested, please join us on Monday, December 7 at 3:30 pm for the next Listening Session.  The agenda includes:
    1. Small group break out: Please come prepared to talk about a book you are reading, personal interest or professional. Thanks to Betsy Tollefson for the idea.
    2. Small group break out: Share a little about the community you live in and how Covid is being handled in your town.
    3. Full group topic: Please share any thoughts or observations on the Student Services search process.
  5. Kudos to…
    1. Sara Bahl for her leadership on the annual Holiday Project.  Sara has passionately worked on this initiative for many years and goes above and beyond to help people receive essentials and a measure of happiness during the holidays.  We know there are many who make this possible – please know of our appreciation for your sacrifices.  Thank you, Sara, for making a difference! 😊
    2. Chris Bowers for her presentation on Ableism to a small group of faculty.  Chantel Hampton participated and had high praise for the content and professional delivery.  We are grateful to have Chris serving our students with disabilities.  Nice work! 😊
    3. Annetta Smith who worked with employment and tax officials in Puerto Rico to benefit our student employees who live there.  Caleb White indicated her efforts saved the college time and benefitted the students directly.  Thank you, Annetta! 😊
    4. Dan Wackershauser for producing the Charger Heroes video!  What people may not know is how Dan actively seeks feedback on his projects prior to public presentation.  Dan, thank you for modeling our value of Continuous Improvement by seeking feedback and improving your results based on input from others. Nice job, Dan! 😊

Please know your personal wellness matters to us.  There is still time, December 7th is the deadline, to access the additional contributions to your Health Savings Account.  Detailed instructions can be found here (Hub access only), thank you to Doris Pulvermacher for the instructional video and to the Wellness Committee for their many, many efforts to help us in our physical, emotional, social, and financial well-being.  As we end this chaotic year of unprecedented changes, may we take heart in the ever constant focus on serving our students.  I am truly honored to be your colleague and humbled by your generous sacrifices which inspire me to strive to be a better person at work and at home.

Take care, Jason

Posted in COVID-19, Update