Mikayla Jo Balderas was recognized at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Western Oklahoma State College Board of Regents. Balderas, a Western Freshman, is Youth Service America and Festival of Children Foundation’s 2013 Youth Ambassador for Oklahoma. As one of 51 Youth Ambassadors selected from a nationwide pool, Balderas will receive funding and training to lead an initiative to promote young artist development and the performing arts through a program she created called The Southwest Opry Kickstart Program. Gilmer Capps, Board Chairman, congratulated Balderas and her parents, Michael and Traci, on Mikayla’s accomplishment.
John Phelan, Faculty Senate President then recapped end of the semester faculty activity. The faculty has been involved with final course exams, enrollment for spring 2014 courses and the ongoing preparation of the focused visit report for the 2014 review from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Phelan praised the committee consisting of faculty from every discipline who has worked to prepare the report. The complete report will be presented to the entire Western campus for review at the January in-service session and then submitted to the HLC later that month. The report is in preparation of a three-day focused visit from the HLC at the end of March. The faculty HLC committee will now prepare a comprehensive report focusing on five HLC criteria that will be completed by December 2014 in advance of the February 2015 comprehensive visit. Phelan complimented the faculty for their tireless work and commitment in preparing the reports.
Dr. Randy Bowman, director of OSU’s Southwest Research and Extension Center was introduced for a review of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Western and the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences within the Division of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources which originated with Dr. J.C. Banks in 1997. The MOU provides for OSU Extension’s lease from WOSC, of 40 acres adjacent the college for the production of dry land and irrigated cotton that facilitates experiments and research in cotton production. The MOU also provides for the receipt of farm payments for WOSC. But, due to the last three years of crop failure in the region, no payments have been distributed. Bowman updated the MOU when he joined the extension staff but counsels that the agreement will need revisions in the near future, pending the completion of the new Congressional farm bill. Bowman also updated the board regarding specific needs and upcoming personnel changes at the extension. Shane Osborn, Assistant Extension Specialist, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to use the land and called it, “a great resource at the local level.”
The consent docket containing the minutes from the Oct. 8, 2013 regular meeting, adoptions of resolutions for retirees, Larry Duffy, Sandra Foster, Monni Reed, Celia Nippert and the late Jerry Bryan and the expenditure comparison report were then voted on and approved by the board.
Tricia Latham then presented a proposal for a new clinical hub fee of $20 per year for Lawton clinical nursing students to become effective for the fall 2014 semester. The new fee will go directly to pay for the clinical hub, which is a website operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Center used by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton and Duncan Regional Hospital. It facilitates the cooperative scheduling, coordination and arrangement of clinical rotation schedules among hospitals, schools and students. An increase in a special fee for diploma replacement copies from $15 to $20 was also requested with a proposed effective date of fall 2014. Both fees were voted on and approved by the board.
Lisa Greenlee informed the board that the current faculty credentials policy had referenced an Oklahoma State Regents Policy incorrectly. The reference to the correct Oklahoma State Regents Policy is now listed in the policy.
Greenlee continued with an update regarding Western’s enrollment. Currently, statistics show that enrollment is down 49. 53 percent for the fall 2013 semester. This figure is close to the expected drop in enrollment that administration projected due to fewer online course offerings for the fall session. Current projections based on early enrollment for next semester show a 19.5 percent drop for the spring 2014 semester. However, Greenlee expressed optimism for the spring semester due to the addition of more online course offerings.
Greenlee continued with a report on The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT) notification of the Radiologic Technology Program Accreditation visit. Since the JCERT visit, the Radiologic Technology Program has been approved for eight more years of accreditation. The next visit from JCERT will be in 2021.
Greenlee concluded with a report about communications from the Department of Education Regional Office of Financial Aid. The agency has been on Western’s campus since December 16 conducting a review of the financial aid section of the college. Greenlee noted that the process has been positive and the reviewers have been encouraging. The agency will report initial feedback at an exit interview at the conclusion of the visit this week but, the final report will be issued within six weeks.
Dr. Phil Birdine then introduced a proposal for a revision of Western’s current Tobacco Free Policy. He then invited Chad Wiginton and Rebecca Dill, Student Senate President, who presented proposed changes to the policy. The revisions provide for the prohibition of e-cigarettes and vapor devices on the Western campus. The current policy already prohibits the use of any tobacco products on campus. The board voted on and approved the revision to the policy.
Birdine continued with his report and recommendations to the board. On Nov. 20, Birdine, Lisa Greenlee, Chad Wiginton and Regent Chair, Gilmer Capps attended the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s annual legislative tour in Oklahoma City where Chancellor Glen Johnson presented his legislative agenda for higher education for the year. Birdine also reported that Larry Duffy, WOSC Foundation Inc.’s Executive Secretary was honored by Senator Mike Schulz and Representative Charles Ortega in November for his 35 year of service to Western. He also noted that a letter of appreciation to the governing board of the Great Plains Medical Center in Elk City was drafted on behalf of board chairman Capps. The letter thanks the hospital board for facilitating the relocation of Western’s nursing campus to the Pat Wall Professional Building located on hospital grounds
The board then moved into executive session, and upon reconvening, approved the personnel resignation of Timara Padgett, Nursing Clinical Coordinator and the personnel employments of Sa’Vana Denton, Student Loan Specialist; Matthew Craig, Science Instructor; Charles Cuthbertson, English Instructor; Kesa McDonald, Mathematics Instructor; Jessica O’Brien, Nursing Simulator Coordinator and the position change of Elizabeth Greenwood to Nursing Clinical Coordinator. The Board also approved the suspension of employee furloughs effective Nov. 30, 2013.
The next regularly scheduled board of regents meeting is set for Feb. 18, 2014 in the Higher Learning Center at the college.
Guests in attendance were Dr. Phil Birdine, Western President; Lisa Greenlee, Vice President for Academic Support and Student Services; Tricia Latham, Vice President for Business Affairs; Chad Wiginton, Dean of Academic and Student Support Services; John Phelan, Faculty Senate President; Dr. Randy Bowman, director of OSU’s Southwest Research and Extension Center; Shane Osborn, Assistant Extension Specialist; Michael Balderas, Traci Balderas, Mikayla Jo Balderas, Rebecca Dill, Student Senate President; Briar Jenkins, Secretary to the President and Judith Norton, Director of Public Information.