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CWC staff, faculty want role in hiring replacement for McFarland

Jan 20, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Employees at Central Wyoming College want to be included in the upcoming search for a new school president.

The CWC Board of Trustees meets Wednesday, Jan. 29, to determine the process for replacing current president Jo Anne McFarland, who announced her plans to retire last month, effective June 30.

Policy of openness

Connie Nyberg, president of the professional staff association at CWC, said it will be important to make sure the incoming president is committed to openness and transparency just like McFarland, who filled the post for 25 years.

"I want you to be aware (of) the open door we have with Dr. McFarland and how inclusive the environment is," Nyberg told the board during its January meeting. "That's the kind of person we've become accustomed to having as our president."

For example, Nyberg said Mc-Farland meets with CWC's staff and faculty presidents before every board meeting to go over the agenda and discuss topics of interest. Classified staff association president Amanda Peterson said the time with McFarland has been educational.

"I understand what's going on a lot more," Peterson said. "I can really ask questions and not feel afraid to ask them."

Desired qualities

The new college president may not continue the pre-meeting tradition, Nyberg said, but she hopes the person values the free exchange of ideas.

She shared a list of 12 characteristics the professional staff would like to see in their incoming president.

The candidate should be able to work collaboratively and think strategically while demonstrating care, interest and respect for all staff and faculty, according to the list.

The person needs experience working with low-income, first-generation, non-traditional students, preferably in a rural setting at similar institution of higher education.

Political skills are also a plus, as is experience working with American Indians and other minorities.

Finally, the new president should love Wyoming and express a desire to live in the Cowboy State long-term.

Board members appreciated the time and effort that went into creating the list of attributes.

"We will certainly try to keep (the search) as transparent as we can," board chair Charlie Krebs said.

Nyberg suggested that public presentations be held once the board has narrowed down the applicant pool, and Peterson said staff representatives could participate in various screening committees throughout the process.

Faculty trust

Faculty president Matt Herr said his group also wants input in the process, but they ultimately have faith that the CWC board will make a good decision.

"I met with the faculty prior to Christmas break, and we discussed the presidential search process," Herr said. "Almost unanimously, the faculty trust and support this board completely - and that's immense. I don't think that's typical of a faculty at an institution our size."

He thinks the faith in leadership is a result of open communication coming from CWC administrators, including McFarland.

He added that the face-to-face time with trustees in during meetings helps staff members get to know the board.

"We trust that you value the work (we) have done in this institution to do innovative, creative new things," Herr said.

"We want to continue to pursue those sorts of things no matter who the president of this college is. ... We want to continue to raise the bar and to challenge ourselves."

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Central Wyoming College