Olympic medalist Ryan Millar speaks to trustees

Cynthia Sheeley/Torrington Telegram Olympic medalist Ryan Millar speaks to EWC trustees on the culture of an organization.

Trustees approve 15% salary increase

TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) board of trustees convened for their January meeting on Jan. 10. At this meeting, the board had three-time Olympic Medalist Ryan Millar as a guest speaker and approved a 15% increase to their salary schedule.

Millar came to the work session portion of the board of trustees meeting to do a presentation on the culture of an organization.

Millar’s day job is helping organizations move forward by helping them better manage their culture and their journey as an organization.

“Anytime you get two people together, you form a culture, you start figuring out the ways to do things, the way to talk to one another,” Millar explained. “We help organizations more effectively manage that culture, so they can move forward. We argue that it’s actually the organization’s culture that is producing outcomes.”

In order to demonstrate his point, Millar had the trustee’s team together to play a game. The point of the game was to explain how culture works in an organization. Afterward, he explained that outcomes are based on a pyramid split up into four sections. 

At the bottom of this pyramid is experiences, then beliefs, actions, and results are at the top. Starting at the bottom, each of these pieces affects the next level of the pyramid. In an organization, a person will act based on their experiences and beliefs, and that action will dictate the final result. It is the experiences and beliefs that make up the organization’s culture.

“If the college is not producing the types of outcomes that we feel like it could produce, we tend to go right to the action part,” Millar told the trustees. “We tend to create action plans, checklists, and we start telling people what they need to do more.”

Millar explained that strategy is more of a band-aid approach. It may help the problem temporarily but, until you change the culture of the organization, you won’t see any long-term effects. In order to truly grow as an organization, you have to figure out what needs to shift in your culture to achieve the desired results.

“What we do as an organization, is help you guys accelerate and manage this journey between where we are today, with current thinking, current actions and current results, to where we need to be in the future, fostering new experiences, new ways of thinking and driving new behavior and actions,” Millar continued.

Millar said accountability is an important part of this process. The point of an organization is to be successful and grow. The members of the organization should feel accountable for helping that happen.

“We have an accountability model that shows that a person can be above the line when demonstrating accountable behaviors or below the line when demonstrating unaccountable behaviors,” Millar explained. “We’re all human beings, we’re going to go below the line from time to time. We’re constantly dealing with problems, challenges and issues. It’s okay to go below the line, it’s just not okay to get stuck there.”

To end his presentation, Millar said that the organizations that continue to thrive year after year are the ones with the strongest strategic plan and the culture to support it.

At the meeting, Director of Human Resources Patrick Korell presented on increasing the base salary schedule.

“Most HR positions talk about recruitment and retention,” Korell told the trustees. “Recruitment is getting the best candidates, or the best employees, that we can. These are the highest educated, most experienced, and most capable. Retention is how we keep our people. Sometimes that’s wages, sometimes that’s the environment.”

In his presentation, Korell went more in-depth, than in previous meetings, into the salary issues the college is facing. The college has faced many struggles in the hiring process because of low salaries. In many cases, they have found that local entities, such as the high school, are beating their salary package.

“We’ve had a difficult time hiring,” Korell explained. “We have interviewed some very qualified candidates, and when I present the numbers, we are being declined almost immediately.”

Korell proposed the board consider approving a 15% increase in salary. This would improve the college’s ability to compete against other offers when hiring. In addition to this increase, a small number of new employees may need a five percent increase to ensure new hires don’t leapfrog over them.

If that’s not favorable to the board, he would suggest a minimum ten percent increase. However, to truly close the salary gap, Korell said that it would take a 20 to 25% increase.

The trustees unanimously approved a 15% increase to the base salary schedule.

President Dr. Jeffry Hawes discussed the approval of an additional 500 hours to their Dynamic Campus contract, pending legal review. 

Dynamic Campus is an IT outsourcing company the college has been working with as they navigate the recovery from the cyber-attack. This is a renewal of their contract hours, which will be used to continue to help the college through the audit process. 

The trustees unanimously approved the Dynamic Campus contract.

The board also approved the first reading for board policy and administrative rule 5.0-admission policy.

The changes to the policy were to improve clarity and labeling.

McGee Hearne & Paiz, LLP (MHP) Partner Brittany Wilson presented the report on the 2022 audit.

“Thank you for having me here tonight,” Wilson began. “I’m here to present the results of the fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2022, financial audit.”

Wilson went through handouts with the board explaining the most significant parts of the report. Overall, the audit report was as expected, without any causes for concern. 

During his president’s report, Hawes discussed the current food service and residency fees. At this time the fees are expected to accrue their annual increase of three percent. However, with the additional inflation on prices, this increase may not be sufficient enough to balance the cost of these services.

“We need to address the accounts going forward,” Hawes told the board. “I’m really interested in hearing what the board’s direction is for me on this, and what action they would like me to take. We don’t have to bridge the gap all at once. However, I still think we should look into what our range should be.”

Hawes showed a few comparisons of other community colleges and their prices, indicating much lower prices at EWC. While expenses like the food service and residency are not expected to make a profit, it is concerning that they are struggling to break even.

After the discussion, the board indicated a similar concern. Hawes will work with his team over the next month in order to propose options at the February meeting.

The next meeting of the EWC Board of Trustees is scheduled for Feb. 14 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-minutes/.

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