EWC board approve offer to presidential candidate

TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) Board of Trustees voted to offer a contract to the presidential candidate during the regular meeting on Tuesday. 

After an executive session to discuss the appointment of a college president, the board unanimously approved a motion to offer employment to Dr. Jeffry Hawes. A motion to authorize Chairman Bob Baumgartner to offer the contract brought before the board to Hawes as president of EWC. 

After the vote Jim Willox, the board’s advisory member from Converse County, said while he does not have a vote he would have voted in favor of Hawes as the new president as well. According to section 1.1 of EWC’s board policies and administrative rules under College Board Membership, “The Advisory Member may attend all regular or special board meetings either in person or by telephone and shall not vote on issues coming before the College Board or participate in executive sessions.” 

Willox was in the board’s executive session on Tuesday and was confirmed to have participated in the executive session during the board’s special meeting on May 4. 

In other action items, the board approved a crop production certificate program for the upcoming school year as presented by Vice President of Academic Services Roger Humphrey during the work session which took place before the regular meeting. 

Humphrey said there has been a hole in crop science at the school and the certificate program will create mobile credential options. All of the courses are currently provided as they will be reconfigured in a more logical sequence, according to Humphrey. 

“It gives another pathway. I like to call them an onramp into a degree,” Humphrey said. 

The track will require students to take the classes in certain semesters, but Humphrey said if there is an increase of students participating in the program, they can expand the number of classes and add instructors. 

The program is one of several proposals Humphrey presented to the board during the work session to help increase enrollment at EWC which included more compact schedules and expansions and additions to 23 academic programs. 

The board also approved the preliminary budget presented by Vice President of Administrative Services Kwin Wilkes during the work session as well as a request for a public hearing on the budget on June 30 which was part of the consent agenda. The monthly financial report presented by Wilkes was also approved by the board. 

Other items on the consent agenda included a certification of uncollectible debts, a request for a public hearing for renewal of the one-half mill levy for fiscal year 2023 and 2024, the resignation of English instructor Geoffery Peck and the hiring of Ben Minks as a custodian starting May 23 and Lori Lehmann as the Academic and Student Services Administrative Specialist starting June 6. 

In other hirings, the board approved Judd Wisener as the head volleyball coach starting June 1, and Brad Staman as College Relations Director starting May 17. 

Other business included the recognition of the employee and student Civitas award recipients. 

Chris Reyes, Oobie Hawkes, Emilio Sanchez, Kelly O’Brien and Kerry Weaver won the award on the employee side, while Janelle Grant and Zainab Al-Dhalimi won the student awards. 

Interim President Dr. Rick Patterson gave an update on what is happening at the college. Patterson said finals week and commencement preparation are the main focus with graduation ceremonies taking place on Friday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Patterson also said the pinning ceremony for nurses will take place on Saturday. 

The budget has been one of Patterson’s main priorities since being appointed to the position about a month ago. The biggest issue has been increasing salaries across the board by 10% which was in the approved preliminary budget. Patterson said this year they started with the salary increase first and then filled in the rest of the budget around it. 

“I can’t think of another thing that we could do that does more for retention, recruiting and probably morale so that everyone knows that they’re appreciated, and their concerns were heard,” Patterson said. 

Faculty contracts were signed as of Tuesday, according to Patterson as the increase will go into effect on July 1 with the approval of the budget. 

An employee recognition reception will also take place on Monday. 

Patterson said he will also begin planning the transition of Dr. Hawes as the new president once a date is confirmed. 

The next regular meeting is June 14 at 5:45 p.m. 


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