Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – November 6, 2021

Hi College Friends!

Several recent events reminded me of my experiences living in a foreign country for an extended period of time.  I lived in Colombia, South America for about two years in between my freshman and sophomore years in college.  Learning the language was challenging, especially with the many cultural nuances associated with the local customs of various groups.  So many stories, but I’ll resist the urge to reminisce in print.  😊

One simple phrase, ¿Qué más? (What else?), was extremely influential then and continues to be a key part of trying to do a good job in my current responsibilities.  Just ask anyone on the exec team and they’ll most likely confirm it’s the phrase I use the most!

Almuerzo, or lunch, was traditionally the largest meal of the day in Colombia.  After eating a lot of food at mid-day, many people took naps or sat outside on the front porch to chat together.  With the heat of the day and the effects of a heavy meal, conversation could stagnate.   ¿Qué más? was the phrased used to urge a person to share more details about what they felt, thought, or experienced.  For me, with a novice grasp of the language, uttering the phrase “¿Qué más?” allowed me space to focus on understanding what was being said.

Re-reading my journal reveals cherished memories with seemingly living details about the depths of those conversations.  I am now even more grateful to remember and re-feel the times when I was lonely, confused, or frustrated because I found comfort, purpose, and meaning when I was intently tuned in to listening…all because of a simple phrase, ¿Qué más?, and a sincere desire to learn from emotional, mental, and spiritual perspectives.

So, to anyone out there reading this email: ¿Qué más?  I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to respond by email, call/text, or let’s schedule a good, old-fashioned, in-person appointment!

Updates from around the college:

  1. Southwest Tech Awesomeness!!!  For the second time in a row, Southwest Tech has been named an Aspen College Excellence Program!  Essentially the college is in the top ten percent of all two-year colleges in the country based on “excellence, advance a focus on equitable student success, and stimulate replication of effective culture and practice.”  When you help a student be successful, you make a difference in that person’s life.  When we all help more students achieve their goals, our communities are strengthened.  Please pat yourself on the back for your efforts…and feel free to Shout Out someone else for their contributions as well. 😊
  2. Faculty Spotlight:  If you want to read a story about an instructor who spends their time practicing their craft, serving others, and teaching students at the same time…look no further than this inspiring account of heroism from our very own Colleen Donovan-Batson, instructor in our midwifery program.  After the life-saving incident, Colleen was able to debrief with her students and edify their learning opportunities with real-world examples.  Thank you, Colleen, for being a true and practicing humanitarian!
  3. Employee Giving
    1. Many of our faculty and staff are very generous with their time, talent, and treasure.  In my opinion, the selfless and heartfelt giving is one of the many reasons Southwest Tech is a great place to work.  As you know,  Southwest Tech has a strong culture of giving with over 90% of our full-time employees giving a gift in each of the past five years.  Amazing and greatly appreciated!   Please consider two current needs:
      • The Southwest Tech Holiday Project: Over the last five years, Southwest Tech has provided holiday cheer to over 125 students and 320 children! Please consider donating by Nov. 12th for this project to ensure gifts can be purchased and provided in time.
      • Charger Food Pantry:  The food pantry is located in the Knox Learning Center and provides food as well as other essential items like diapers, laundry detergent, feminine products, personal hygiene supplies, etc.  Donations are always welcome and certainly a way for you to be included in our employee giving.  Please see the attached list for items the Food Pantry needs.
  1. Thank you for supporting our students with your gifts.  Please take advantage of using payroll deduction – $1 a pay check is a great place to start.  One-time Payments can also be made online.  Thank you in advance.  I am continually inspired by your generosity. 😊
  2. Inclement Weather:  The exec team will be reviewing our policy/procedure for bad weather or emergency situations next week.  First and foremost, you are empowered to make decisions to keep yourself safe.  In other words, the college may be open for business but you can choose to stay home if you do not feel it is safe to travel.  You can work with your supervisor and HR to determine the best way to account for the time.  An update will be provided including remote work expectations when campus is closed.  Please feel free to direct your questions or comments to your supervisor or HR.
  3. 2022-2023 Planning
    1. The primary focus of our planning will be to emphasize the importance of successfully completing current initiatives.  The success of Project Rise is the highest prioritized strategic project.  Strengthening our culture of trust and respect is of paramount importance.  We will consider additional opportunities if we can pursue them without compromising current priorities.
    2. Please remember, our students are most successful when they:
      • Know someone cares and is willing to help;
      • Engage in quality learning experiences; and
      • Get paid.
  1. College Forums:  Please stay tuned for a College Forum scheduled on Tuesday, November 16.  Faculty and staff from around the college will provide informative updates on Project Rise, new academic programs, Free Student Legal Advice, accreditation, Covid, and College Health Indicator #1: Equity in Student Learning.  There will also be an engaging activity to help us continue to get to know each other and how we each help students to be successful.
  2. Kudos to…
    1. Danielle Seippel!  Danielle is neck deep, or deeper, in Project Rise and keeping up with her other duties and responsibilities.  Several people have expressed their appreciation and admiration for Danielle’s steady work, experienced perspective, and solution-oriented approach.  Well done, Danielle, and thank you!
    2. Dan Wackershauser!  Dan has assumed responsibility on a team of people who are responsible for communicating COVID outbreaks.  Dan works closely with students, faculty, staff, etc. to help people know their options. Thank you, Dan, for seamlessly stepping into these responsibilities!
    3. JoAnn Wiederholt!  JoAnn teaches in our Medical Lab Tech program and also serves on a the Fennimore School Board.  We have many faculty and staff who volunteer in local leadership roles.  Thank you to JoAnn for both of the hats she wears so admirably!
    4. Jody Millen!  Jody is an admin assistant, also very involved with Project Rise, and consistently goes above and beyond to help faculty with all kinds of unique needs.  We are grateful for Jody’s experience and appreciate what she accomplishes in her division!
    5. Caleb White!  I don’t say this enough publicly, but Caleb is an exceptional leader and an even better person.  I am grateful he is leading our college finances with integrity, purpose, and expertise.  Thank you, Caleb, for your good work at the college!

Sometimes, just like Henney Penney from the fable Chicken Little, it can feel like the sky is falling when it is really just an acorn.  It reminds me of the old cable tv commercials that spiraled ridiculously out of control.  In my home, we call each other as family members on it on it and say, “Don’t tell yourself scary stories.”  There are times when I am able to stop negative doomsday scenarios on my own.  I also rely on trusted friends and colleagues in certain situations.  In some circumstances it is also appropriate, if not imperative, to reach out to trained mental health counselors to work through establishing healthy thought patterns and positive behaviors.

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.  You deserve “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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.  And, if it’ll help, ¿Qué más?



Posted in COVID-19, Update