EWC trustees convene for November meeting

Cynthia Sheeley/Torrington Telegram Patrick Korell presenting the Human Resources update.

TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) Board of Trustees convened for their November meeting on Nov. 8.

During the work session meeting, Tyler Vasko and Auke Daane gave a presentation on the college’s I.T. department and how they are recovering from the cyber-attack of June 2022.

“(The system is better off than it was), there’s no comparison at this stage and the level of complexity we built into the network,” Vasko said.

When this event happened, the system was old and needed to be updated. Since the event, they have introduced better architecture, better security principles, and a better design. The plan moving forward is to continue to build up the system and then get on a maintenance schedule.

“I think the key is getting on a maintenance schedule and we need to routinely be evaluating upgrading and on a continual basis,” President Dr. Jeffry Hawes explained. “As soon as we stop maintaining, we’re already on our way to security breaches in the future.”

The next step in building up the system is expanding the I.T. infrastructure by replacing switches associated with the EWC network; this expense is not to exceed $15,000. Maintenance is needed to install these switches and continue to improve the existing network; this expense is not to exceed $45,000.

The trustees thanked Vasko and Daane for their presentation. During the meeting, the board unanimously voted to approve both items.

Also, during the work session, Director of Human Resources Patrick Korell presented an update for his department.

“So, I filled out a report that kind of shows you the work that we’ve done this month,” Korell began. “The most pressing issue is we are trying to find a communications instructor, math instructor, and we just had two applicants that may work for a vet position.”

While they have filled a grounds position, they are having difficulty filling the other positions. They have had several applicants that have not worked out.

“I have increased the offers a little bit, still within our upper range, and allowed a little extra money for moving expenses, hoping to entice the right person,” Korell explained.

Korell also provided updates on the bus procurement process the department is working on.

“We have a big issue here standing that we need to have some reliable transportation,” Korell said. “We have buses in service, but we’ve got some big trips coming up. Today two of our smaller buses headed down to Arizona, they took two busses down just to make that work.”

Currently, the department is considering a few different options like buying a new bus, leasing a used one, or exploring different types of buses. A new bus will cost around $6-700,000. The used bus they are considering will cost about $300,000, with mileage in the low 200,000.

“The problem with athletics right now is we don’t have assistant coaches,” Vice President of Student Services Tami Afdahl explained. “So, we run out of drivers really quick with one coach with our programs. We have a volunteer assistant coach driving the second vehicle Arizona.”

The trustees thanked Korell for his update and presentation and then ended the work session.

The meeting began with an introduction by the EWC Rodeo Team and their coach Whit Peterson. Each team member introduced themselves to the board and welcomed them to attend their upcoming event the Black Jeans and Gold Buckle Gala at the 4-H Rendezvous Center on Nov. 18 at 4:30 p.m.

“The goal for this is to increase the amount of money that we can give these kids traveling for the rodeos and to help pay for practice cattle and feeding the practice cattle that we have out at the fairgrounds,” Peterson said. “We’re going to have a social hour starting at 4:30 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., with a live auction and silent auction to follow. Then we’ll have a live band and cash bar dance to follow that.”

Michaela Keller, president of the student senate, reported on the group.

“Hi everybody, we have just a few things tonight,” Keller began. “We did a couple of things for Halloween. We did the Ellis Harvest Home and that turned out great. We had 143 students attend, the weather was fantastic that night. Then, we did Trunk or Treat downtown. We did a student senate trunk and we decorated the trunk and dressed up as Alice in Wonderland.”

The student senate also had a meeting with Hawes where they discussed the school. The students agreed that the strongest attributes of EWC were its affordability, teacher-to-student ratio, friendly and caring staff, good and clean atmosphere, and helpful student finance department. They said that the school could improve its social media presence, meal plan elaboration, study lounge areas, renovation of Eastern Hall, and update WIFI and computers.

The student senate has a few events coming up. They will be doing a movie night soon, a grocery food drive on Nov. 18-20, and the evening of elegance on Nov. 30.

“We’re excited to have recently approved three new clubs, the veterans, barbering, and gaming clubs,” Keller said.

The trustees thanked Keller for her report and then continued the meeting.

The board unanimously approved the contract for the Goshen County School District to lease the old Cosmetology building for a space to provide extra support to children.

The board unanimously approved the November Financial Report.

The Vice President for Administration Services Kwin Wilkes also discussed a recent problem with the water main. The water main by the CTEC building was ruptured during construction unrelated to the college. The excessive amount of water damaged the pavement and sidewalk.

The trustees unanimously approved two memoranda of understanding (MOUs), one with the Torrington Police Department and the other with the University of Wyoming. Each partner will have a specifically labeled room in the college to conduct any necessary business. 

Hawes discussed purchasing a specific platform to better organize meeting data, policies, and other important data in one easily accessible place. This board management platform is not to exceed $15,000. After much discussion, the board unanimously approved this budget item.

Two other items were on the agenda for approval. One item was an internet service provider to create redundancy, not to exceed $20,000 and the other was broadband internet for student dorms, not to exceed $60,000. The trustees unanimously approved both items.

Hawes provided an update for the board on the administrative operations occurring in and around his office.

“Moving forward, the president will assume the role of making sure we guide and lead that strategic planning process with the college,” Hawes said. “I expanded the role of the president’s leadership team, which had initially eight direct reports for me plus our faculty alliance and our faculty senate. I’ve expanded that committee to include all directors and department chairs.”

Hawes explained that the first item on the agenda for the committee will be to ask the various groups in the college, athletics, Gear Up, etc., and identify the current plan on file and evaluate whether that plan is accurate. They will also be ensuring that the information is accurate online and that all policies are accessible.

“I want to hear everybody’s voice of what they’re doing and then see if it fits in our plan the way it’s written,” Hawes continued. “We need to make sure if we say we’re funding a program in our college, that it is connected to our mission.”

Before the meeting adjourned into an executive session, the trustees thanked Trustees John Patrick, Tom McCreery, and Judith Bartman for their time on the board.

“It’s been one of the highlights of my life to serve on this board,” Patrick said. “People at this college have always given above and beyond what you could ever expect and do it willingly and gladly. Treated students well and each other well.  I couldn’t imagine doing anything better.”

The next meeting of the EWC Board of Trustees is scheduled for Dec. 13 at 5:45 p.m. The agendas, minutes, and recordings of meetings can be viewed at https://ewc.wy.edu/about-eastern-wyoming-college/presidentscabinet/board-of-trustees/board-agendas-minu

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