The Wilkes Community College Board of Trustees met on Thursday, Oct. 13, in the John A. Walker Community Center. The board began the evening with a presentation by Jane Bowman and Wes Scroggs on student activities and intercollegiate athletics. Then, Dick Johnston, chairman of the board, administered the oath of office for reappointed and newly appointed trustees: Larry Stone, Joe Ware, Bill Davis, Josh Roten (of Ashe) and Barry Hamilton, SGA president.
Buildings and Grounds Committee
In the event of a disaster, the Governor can order a State of Emergency. Upon doing so, Wilkes Community College has been recognized as a suitable site for a Regional Medical Support Shelter (RMSS). WCC is completing an assessment form and information sheet to be used in approving the college as a RMSS. Upon approval, the college will develop a plan of action to respond to and prepare for a State of Emergency. The concept for developing a written procedure for designated personnel is crucial to maintain the college infrastructure, student records and other key operational elements before and after the disaster relief.
Legislation in the 2011 state budget bill provides community colleges with broadened authority to invest funds. With this flexibility, colleges are required to establish an investment committee to provide oversight of college investments. The board gave the Finance Committee authority to nominate investments committee members. The committee will submit the nominees to the trustees for approval at the January meeting. The board accepted a recommendation by the finance committee to modify the trustee by-laws to incorporate the Investments Committee and its responsibilities.
Partnering with Ashe County Public Schools, WCC officials have worked through the N.C. Center for Family Literacy to obtain funds to continue the basic skills Even Start program. This program was previously operated through the Ashe County Partnership for Children and provides child care for students enrolled in the program. The board approved the lease with Ashe County Partnership for Children for the Even Start child care space, which is 1,574 square feet charged at an annual rate of $8.50 per square foot. The lease period is Aug. 16, 2011, through May 15, 2012.
The board approved the 2011-2012 state budget, which totals $34,337,189. Highlights of the state budget bill include:
• Full-funding for community college system enrollment growth
• Student curriculum tuition increase of $10 per credit hour
• Implementation of the alternative funding model
• Additional management flexibility reduction of $50.8 million (-$531,959 to WCC)
• Reduction in institutional support funds of $8.48 million (approximately -$140,000 to WCC)
• Provision to allow state equipment funds to be used for new construction (with 50% match) and repairs and renovations (no match)
• Multi-campus funding split among all approved multi-campus sites (approximately -$82,000 to WCC Ashe Campus)
• Salary increases prohibited except for promotions or change in job duties
Prior to the enactment of the 2011 state budget, community colleges were required to be audited at least once every five years by the Office of the State Auditor. The budget bill added new legislation (GS 115D-58.16) as follows:
“Each community college shall be audited a minimum of once every two years. Community colleges may use state funds to contract with the State Auditor or with a certified public accountant to perform the audits. The colleges shall submit the results of the audits to the State Board of Community Colleges.”
As a result of this legislation, WCC will be requesting proposals later this year from CPA firms for audit services for the June 30, 2012, fiscal year end. The N.C. Community College System Office is also exploring a consortium contract among colleges for audit services by a private CPA firm.
Fifth-three percent of the $700,000 community goal of the Automotive Technology Complex Capital Campaign has been achieved through pledges and verbal commitments. The faculty and staff kickoff of the campaign was held Tuesday, Sept. 27. The goal for this portion of the campaign is $50,000. Kickoff for the community campaign will be held in mid to late October. WCC administration applauded the board of trustees for their support of this endeavor.
The 2011-2012 Annual Fund Drive began on July 1, 2011. This year’s campaign goal is $60,000, with 100 percent participation from endowment board members and trustees. Currently, gifts total $15,294. For the Annual Fund Drive, emphasis is on participation by the faculty, staff, trustees and endowment board members. The administrative council and endowment corporation have set the following four priorities for this year’s annual fund: SkillsUSA, mini grants for faculty and staff professional development, mini grants for student clubs and unrestricted funds.
Program and Planning Committee
Session Law 2011-145, the Appropriations Act of 2011, authorized the State Board of Education and the State Board of Community Colleges to establish the Career and College Promise program, effective Jan. 1, 2012. This Act eliminates all previous rules for concurrent enrollment of high school students and provides new guidelines and structure under one umbrella. Career and College Promise provides seamless dual enrollment educational opportunities for eligible North Carolina high school students in order to accelerate completion of college certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees that lead to college transfer or provide entry-level job skills. Wilkes Community College plans to pilot a few Career and College Pathway certificates spring semester 2012 and fully implement the program fall semester 2012. The board authorized the Program and Planning committee to approve the Career and College Promise certificates once they are developed.
Wilkes Community College is one of five community colleges in the region entering into an articulation agreement with Lenoir-Rhyne University (LRU) to participate in the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) project. The RIBN project dually enrolls a cohort of community college Associate Degree Nursing program students into a Bachelor of Science degree with a Major in Nursing from LRU. RIBN students take courses on the community college campus for three years, and complete the fourth year at Lenoir-Rhyne University. One of the goals of the RIBN project is to increase the number of nursing students who continue their education through the master’s degree level, thus increasing the number of potential nursing program instructors.
According to the 2009 Official Cohort Default Rate released by the Department of Education, Wilkes Community College had 100 people enter repayment on student loans with 10 defaulting; thus, the WCC 2009 Cohort Default Rate is 10 percent. Default rates become problematic for colleges when they rise to a level of 30 percent or higher.
Final regulations by the U.S. Department of Education require institutions that participate in the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, to report certain information about students who enrolled in Title IV-eligible educational programs that lead to gainful employment (GE) in a recognized occupation. Those regulations also provide that institutions must disclose to prospective students certain information about their GE programs. Finally, the new regulations require an institution to notify the U.S. Secretary of Education if it wishes to add additional GE programs to its list of Title IV-eligible programs. All of these requirements became effective July 1, 2011. Wilkes Community College is subject to the GE program regulations for diploma programs and the Basic Law Enforcement Training certificate.
College President’s Report
State formula funding is largely based upon full-time equivalent students (FTE) in each of three instructional areas – curriculum, occupational extension and basic skills. With the economic downturn and increased numbers of displaced workers, total FTEs increased in excess of 23 percent since 2007 and are now evidencing the expected correction. Curriculum degree programs, whose funding is based upon the preceding year’s fall and spring semester FTEs, reflect a correction of -7.5 percent in fall semester 2011. Occupational extension and basic skills FTEs, whose funding is based upon calendar year FTE and are now in the final term of the budget generating cycle for 2012-13, are correcting at a rate of -6.8 percent and -8.7 percent, respectively. Noteworthy, is the fact that corrections in fall 2011 are less than previous semesters suggesting that the FTE enrollments may be approaching sustainable levels.
The current FTE size of the college is 3,517 with 3,253 budgeted FTE. The administration continues to proactively plan and manage budgets consistent with the inevitable FTE corrections underway.
The WCC Board of Trustees will meet again on Jan. 12, 2012.
Wilkes Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a public, two-year, open-door institution serving the people of Wilkes, Ashe and Alleghany counties and beyond.