Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – Jan 16, 2021

Hi Folks,

Thank you for attending in-service.  I appreciated the chance to be together.  My best to everyone as we start another semester on Monday.  We do what we do because we make a difference…and we do it very well. 😊

Here is an update from around the college:

  1. Overcoming COVID in 2021:
    1. We hosted a COVID vaccination event on campus earlier this week.  Approximately 75 people received the vaccine and we learned a lot about holding these types of events for future offerings.  Thank you to Maria Kindrai for leading the efforts.  We also appreciate the help from Dan Imhoff, Brian Kitelinger, Tom Kretschman, Justine Sparrgrove, Vicky Rundle, Darci Colsch, and Jenna Taylor.
    2. The Child Care Center has had two cases of positive exposures and will be closed for precautionary reasons through January 22.  You can read the attached email for detailed information.
  2. Financial Update:
    1. Governor Evers announced that budget reductions will occur for the current fiscal year.  We knew this was a possibility and is one of the scenarios for which we have been planning – we have left a few positions vacant as a precautionary intervention.  As part of the State’s budget cuts, the Wisconsin Technical College System is required to lapse $3,168,545 from the state aid appropriation.  Our estimates indicate Southwest Tech’s portion will be approximately $150,000 from this year’s budget.  I will be attending meetings this week to learn more. We are awaiting the Governor’s budget and then work will begin in the legislature.  There is still a lot to be done and  multiple financial forecasts/updates yet to be available.  At this time we are planning for multiple scenarios.
    2. Enrollment is more concerning than mid-year budget cuts.  We are trending down between 5% to 7%.  You can help by referring students who are struggling academically to the Knox Learning Center for support.  Students who are facing other struggles or emergencies can meet with their advisors or Gina Trollop in counseling.  Helping students complete the semester whenever possible benefits them and us.  You can also ask your current students to refer potential students to Kyle Bennett and his team.  We will follow up and invite people to learn more about our college and how we can help them be successful.
    3. What does all of this mean?  It means we have an opportunity to perform at our best when it matters most in order to create the best possible situation for our students and each other.  Here’s how we will move forward:
      1. First, we will continue to emphasize student recruitment and retention because we make a difference in the lives of the people who complete our programs.
      2. Second, we will be patient with the legislative process – you can find our priorities here which I shared with our legislators earlier this week.
      3. Third, we will work together with integrity and positivity to find solutions that keep us together.  I will have more information after January’s meeting with the Board of Directors.
  3. Campus Safety:
    1. The nation is on high-alert, especially this coming week.  Our safety and security briefings do not indicate imminent threats to higher education.  As emotions run high, however, there is potential for volatile situations to escalate quickly.  Our Campus Safety folks have put together the attached De-Escalation document with suggestions for de-escalating interactions between people.
    2. Bottom line: If you are concerned, please reach out to Campus Safety for support and assistance.  You can always call 911 if you feel you or others are at risk.  If you see something or suspect something, please say something to your supervisor, Human Resources, or Campus Safety.
    3. I am extremely saddened by the current state of affairs.  Let’s use this week to demonstrate our Respect Pledge in action.  We can find happiness in setting an example locally of what we would like to see nationally.
  4. Equity and Inclusion:
    1. Please see the attached schedule of events for this coming week.  I encourage you to participate in at least one of the events and I would be very grateful if you would share your thoughts with me by email, phone, or zoom. Please and thank you.  At the very core of our college is learning.  The planned activities are an opportunity for each of us to learn.  When you learn and share it with me I get a boost of happiness which is much appreciated.
  5. Shout Outs
    1. Thank you to Katie Snitker for recognizing Darwyn Wolfe for his contributions during a break-out session.  She expressed gratitude to Darwyn for sharing his perspective as a new employee which helped her learn new things – Shout Out attached. 😊
    2. Thank you to Katie Snitker (x2!) for recognizing Joan Young.  Along with her kind comments, Katie also provided a quote from a student who was very grateful for Joan’s effort to help during a difficult semester – Shout Out attached. 😊
    3. Thank you to Christina Winch for thanking Kory Stalsberg.  Christina is an ag instructor at the college and one of Kory’s students!  Kory works with farmers to help them with their family farms – Shout Out attached. 😊

Please take care of yourselves, each other, and our students.  If you need anything, or have feedback, please let me know.  If nothing else, I’ll come shovel your driveway and bring a plate of warm cookies to brighten your day.



Posted in COVID-19, Update