CWC faculty resignations examined

Jul 13, 2012 By Joshua Scheer, Staff Writer

Among the first-year departures were forensics and debate instructor Jeremy Christensen and film instructor John Little, both of whom were heading up new programs.

After the last academic year, Central Wyoming College lost six of seven faculty members who had started in the fall of 2011.

Incoming faculty association president David Gray brought this situation to the attention of the CWC Board of Trustees during its meeting June 20.

"I'm getting pretty concerned about faculty recruitment and retention," Gray said during his monthly report.

Among the faculty who left were forensics debate instructor Jeremy Christensen and film instructor John Little, both of whom were heading up new programs.

"They were all voluntary resignations," said executive director for human resources Jennifer Rey, noting all had fulfilled their contractual obligations.

She said those relatively new programs will continue and replacements are being sought.

Retention worries

Gray spoke of the frustration that comes with "exhaustive" search processes only to lose the new hires after a year.

Trustee Judy Pederson asked if Gray knew of any of the reasons.

"I think it's a mixed bag," he said.

He said it is difficult for people moving from other parts of the country to afford homes in Fremont County because the housing market in the area hasn't tanked.

Rey said housing has come up as a factor in a number of exit interviews.

She said people who take a job in Riverton from out of state may not be able to sell their former home and may have to return because of the economic restraints.

Turnover more common

Other reasons for faculty leaving, Rey said, were because of financial circumstances and relocation to be closer to family.

She told the board that nationwide, people are staying in their jobs for shorter lengths of time than in the past.

"Are we looking more favorably on people who live here and are maybe slightly less qualified?" asked trustee Scott Phister.

Rey said the college is reaching out for new hires in places that could produce people who would be more successful in staying.

"We are looking at our search and screening process," she said.

She said later that the college is stepping up exit interviews with candidates who apply for jobs and then withdraw. That way, if anything comes up that the college can control, it can be addressed.

'Not taking it lightly'

Despite having only been on the job at CWC since December, Rey said she believes the large loss of new hires experienced this year is a one-time event. From the records she's viewed from past years, lack of retention is not as high as last year.

"We're not taking it lightly," she said.

Among other, longer-staying faculty, "Everything seems to be pretty stable," Rey said.

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