The regularly scheduled meeting of the Western Oklahoma State College Board of Regents began Tuesday with the recognition of former regent Renee Walker Gunkel and Regent John Hester. Gunkel’s seven-year term ended in 2013. Hester will complete 21 years of serves as a regent in April. Shelby Thornton, Western Freshman and Student Senate Representative, presented Gunkel and Hester with an acrylic award and thanked them for their years of distinguished service on behalf of Western students.
John Phelan, Faculty Senate President, reported on the Senate’s monthly activities. They will be nominating new senators for the 2014-15 school year in April and will seat the newly elected senators by May. Western’s tenure committee has been meeting and four faculty members have submitted applications for consideration of tenure. Phelan also reported on all the regular duties that the entire faculty is engaged in including program reviews and course scheduling for the summer and fall course sessions.
The consent docket containing the minutes from the Dec. 17, 2013 meeting and the expenditure comparison report was voted on and approved.
Dr. Phil Birdine presented the new Faculty Senate Constitution for the board’s consideration. He said the document has been under review for several months and vetted thoroughly. The executive team is confident in the document’s ability to advance the campus. The board voted and approved the Faculty Senate Constitution.
Tricia Latham presented a summary of Western’s retirement incentive program for FY 2014. The plan is the same as years past with updated amounts for this year’s insurance premium figures. The board voted on and approved the continuation of the program.
Latham continued with a proposal for the internal audit five-year plan and a request for renewal with Crawford and Associates. The firm has performed the college’s internal audits function for the past five years. Latham also proposed new areas of concentration for the audit. Estimated cost for the contract with the firm is between $20,000 and $23,000. The board approved the internal audit contract and the proposed five-year plan.
Birdine and Latham addressed the board regarding section 7 of the employee handbook which has been updated. The section is titled Support Services and General Information. The section was updated with input from many offices on campus. This section includes the addition of several support function policies, including PCI compliance and Facilities and Equipment Use and Rental. The board approved the revision to the employee handbook.
Lisa Greenlee briefed the board on Western’s upcoming focus visit with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) March 31 – April 2 and the preparation for the ensuing comprehensive visit from the HLC before February 2015. The focus visit report was sent to the HLC and two reviewers who will conduct the focus visit. In addition Western’s federal compliance filing required before the focus visit was also recently submitted. Dr. Birdine and Greenlee have also had phone conferences with focus visit reviewers. Greenlee has begun discussion with the review chair and Western’s HLC liaison about the comprehensive visit and has submitted possible visit dates. Greenlee expects the bulk of the writing for the comprehensive report will be completed by faculty and staff committees before the start of the summer class sessions.
Greenlee continued with a request for the granting of a posthumous degree for Mr. Christopher Bennett. Mr. Bennett was a Western student who died unexpectedly July 20, 2013. He was pursing an Associate of Science Degree in Business Computer Information Systems. The original request came from Mr. Bennett’s widow and was recommended by Lana Scott, Western’s Registrar. The board approved the request.
Dr. Birdine delivered the President’s report and recommendations that included an update on Governor Fallin’s budget recommendation for FY15 which includes a $49 million reduction in state funding for higher education which equates to 5.3 %, or a $307,000 reduction in state appropriation for Western. Birdine assured the board that Western leadership would keep this matter on the mind of its area legislators. Birdine also shared that Oklahoma Attorney General representative Julie Ezell visited the campus last week to brief key leadership on Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act. He said the meeting was helpful and will assist Western to continue to comply with the act’s requirements.
After returning from an executive session, the board resumed open session with the approval of personnel resignations for Maurice Walton, WINDS Clerk; Heather Hill, Nursing Secretary and the personnel employments of Carmen Nickel, Elk City Freshman Faculty and Morgan Adams, Maintenance Lead Position.
Birdine concluded with a brief statement regarding an open house at The Great Plains Regional Medical Center Pat Wall Professional Building in Elk City, Feb. 20. Western will recognize the hospital for its partnership and their contributions to Western’s Elk City Nursing Program site.
Guests in attendance included Dr. Phil Birdine, Western President; Lisa Greenlee, Vice President for Academic and Student Support Services; Tricia Latham, Vice President for Business Affairs; Chad Wiginton, Dean of Student Support Services; Former Western Regent Renee Walker Gunkel; Faculty Senate President, John Phelan; Shelby Thornton, Student Senate Representative; Briar Jenkins, Secretary to the President and Judith Norton, Director of Public Information.