The Western Oklahoma State College Board of Regents met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday in the Higher Learning Center at the college.
During the meeting Tricia Latham presented a request for the approval of funding for remodeling projects on the Business Office Complex and Multipurpose Center. The projects were approved in April 2015 along with three roofing and two HVAC projects. Due to a lack of viable vendor responses to a call for bids and an over budget proposal from one contractor, the HVAC project has been put on hold. Preliminary estimates for the remodeling projects have come in at approximately $175,000 over original estimates. Latham asked to utilize $175,000 of funding that is available for construction projects along with an additional $50,000 of potential contingency and furnishings budget from Section 13 capital funds carry over from FY 15. Latham also asked to contract with Joe D. Hall Contractors for construction management services. This professional contract will not require competitive bidding. Total construction estimate is $495,442. The contract will allow for bids for separate components of the construction. The board voted on and approved Latham’s requests.
Latham also presented a request to advertise for bids on 35 acres of irrigated land located on the west side of the campus with access to irrigation water. Bid advertisements will be for a three-year lease of 35 of the 40 acres of irrigated land on Western’s property. The board approved the request.
A series of recognitions was held for retiring Board of Regents member, Gilmer J. Capps. Dana Darby, Board President, presented Capps with a plaque commemorating his 21 years of service to the board that will hang in the Board of Regents Room at the college. Chase Castillo presented Capps a plaque recognizing his service on behalf of the student body. Lora Lea Pickering and Dustin Balderas presented Capps with a Lifetime Membership to the WOSC Alumni Association. Also, Larry Duffy made personal remarks regarding the contributions to the college Regent Capps and his family have made.
Lisa Greenlee introduced Jacqueline Bellamy who presented a request for the approval of recent revisions to the Faculty Senate Constitution. Bellamy reported that the changes aimed at clarifying the document and included edits to the preamble, procedures regarding the placement of individuals on senate committees, and the election of senators. The board voted on and approved the revised constitution.
Bellamy continued with the Faculty Senate report. She noted communications from academic departments including Ag, Nursing, Music, English, and Child Development, regarding enhanced student recruitment efforts. Bellamy also reported the start of the senate’s next project, the drafting of an Academic Freedom Policy. The senate expects to complete the document within the course of its impending meetings.
Melissa Smith delivered the Staff Senate report. She shared news of staff campus activities and projects including the recent personnel office payroll conversion and the transition from Lincoln Life to MetLife insurance for employees. She also reported the WOSC Alumni Association and Baseball Organization’s successful fundraiser that brought the Harlem Ambassadors to the college for a sold out community event. Smith highlighted Western’s Homecoming activities held on February 13, the Testing Center’s impending transition from the COMPASS student placement test to the ACCUPLACER assessment tool, and the activities of the task force specially appointed to address the state budget failure and Western’s response to mandated spending cuts in FY16. Smith concluded with information about her coordination of free professional development webinars offered to staff and faculty as a way to offset out-of-state travel restrictions for training or conferences imposed as a result of the state budget failure.
Chad Wiginton reported on two experimental site initiatives released by the US Department of Education. Western has made application to be part of the Second Chance Pell and Pell for Dual Enrollment Students initiatives. Second Chance Pell would allow for incarcerated individuals enrolling in a college program to receive federal student aid if they are eligible for release within five years. Pell for Dual Enrollment would allow concurrent high school students who qualify to receive federal student aid. Results of applications for the initiatives are pending. Both programs would serve current Western student groups in need of tuition support.
The consent docket containing the minutes of the December 15, 2015, regular meeting and the expenditure comparison report were voted on an approved by the board.
Latham then presented an update regarding the early pay off of the 2008 WOSC Foundation Inc., Bond for the Western Residence Hall. The bond is due to be fully redeemed June 1, 2019, but allows for optional redemption as of June 1, 2014. There are enough reserve funds to exercise early redemption on June 1, 2016. The principal balance on the bond is $560,000 and the accrued interest on June 1, 2016, will be $11,898.75, total funds needed of $571,898.75, leaving a balance of $5,977.67 due. The early pay off of this debt will save the college $615,000 in lease payments to the WOSC Foundation and $37,827.50 in interest payments to bondholders. Western and the WOSC Foundation, Inc. will strategize alternatives for paying the balance due as well.
Latham then proposed a policy for addition to the Employee Handbook that would formalize current practices regarding emeriti benefits. Currently, emeriti receive tuition waivers, free access to the Wellness Center, Learning Resources Center, athletic events, and college musicals and plays. The policy would give emeriti a place of reference to these items in the handbook. The board voted on and approved the policy.
Dr. Phil Birdine began the President’s Report and Recommendations with news of a memo received from the Oklahoma State Regents Chancellor, Glen Johnson, informing institutions of higher education that Oklahoma state appropriations for FY17 will be 15.9 percent less than FY16. Birdine further informed the board about a certificate given to Western by the Miss Oklahoma Scholarship Pageant Board of Directors for its past years of support for contestants. He also shared a thank you letter from past regent, Renee Gunkel, thanking the board for flowers sent to her family after the passing of her father and WOSC alumnus, Nolan Walker. He also said that a communication sent by the OSU Extension Office terminating its land lease with Western will be presented to the board at another meeting. Finally, Birdine introduced Chad Wiginton who shared his day’s experience with Western students at Higher Ed Day at the state capitol.
Retirements and resignations were discussed in executive session, and after returning to regular session, the board approved the personnel retirement of Karla Moore, Director of Assessment, and the personnel resignation of Justin Carpenter, Upward Bound Academic Coordinator.
Guests in attendance included Lisa Greenlee, Vice President for Academic Affairs; Tricia Latham, Vice President for Business Affairs; Larry Duffy; Executive Secretary for the WOSC Foundation, Inc.; Chad Wiginton, Vice President for Student Support Services; Jacqueline Bellamy, Faculty Senate Chair; Melissa Smith, Staff Senate Chair; Katie Brewer, Staff Senate Chair-Elect; Lora Lea Pickering, Director of Alumni and Development; Chase Castillo, Student Senate President; Dustin Balderas, WOSC Alumni Board President; Briar Jenkins, Secretary to the President, and Judith Meyer, Director of Public Information.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Western Board of Regents is set for April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Higher Learning Center at the college.