Thursday, July 12, 2006
President shares goals for Northwest CC
By Nancy Patterson
As the first anniversary of Dr. Gary Lee Spears’ presidency of Northwest Community College approached, the college’s board of trustees took action at its June meeting that gave Dr. Spears a five percent raise and extended his contract through June 30, 2008.
Gary Walker, acting chairman of the Administrative Committee (Superintendent of Education for Tate County), reminded the board that “before a new president was chosen for Northwest Mississippi Community College, the board approved a two-year contract as part of the benefit package for the position. I feel it is time to consider an extension of Dr. Spears’ contract.”
At that same meeting Dr. Spears took the opportunity to present to the board a State of the College report. “At the beginning of the fiscal year 2005-06, we had several goals and objectives for the college. As opportunities and challenges came our way, we rose to the occasion and had a very productive year,” said Dr. Spears.
Goals for the college, according to Dr. Spears, included developing new programs, improving physical facilities, constructing new buildings, increasing student activities and improving campus safety, creating a more effective student recruiting/marketing campaign, increasing the number of contributions to the Northwest Foundation and completing and presenting the ten year Certificate of Compliance to the college’s principal accrediting agency (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges), enhancing community outreach and public relations, growing the enrollment and maintaining a strong financial base for operations.
In the area of program developments, Dr. Spears told the Board of the need to implement particular allied health programs in cooperation with Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto. In response to the community requests, a paralegal technology program will begin in the fall 2006 semester at the Lafayette-Yalobusha Technical Center in Oxford.
He also reported that virtual (online) classes have been expanded from 47 to 82, reflecting a 75 percent increase which has resulted in an increased enrollment from 505 to 955.
Addressing the plans for facility improvement, Dr. Spears told the trustees that the new Physical Science Building on the Senatobia campus had been approved and construction would begin soon. Renovation projects at the Oxford and Southaven campuses have also been completed. He also noted improvements that have been made to the football stadium, the physical plant facility, and the president’s office. Street improvements were made on the Senatobia campus and parking areas improved and completed.
“We have prepared a researched, comprehensive plan to greatly expand our health, recreation and fitness offerings on the Senatobia campus,” Dr. Spears explained. “This ‘Healthplex Project’ is currently in a preliminary fundraising stage.” Since that report a delegation of Northwest administrators, including Dr. Spears, Vice President for Student Affairs Dan Smith and Director of Development Sybil Canon met with Senator Trent Lott and members of Senator Thad Cochran’s staff to seek funding for that facility.
In other news concerning student activities, Dr. Spears told the group that the opening of the David M. Haraway Center on the Senatobia campus had expanded the food service hours to a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. operation. “We are the highest volume food service operated without a contractor in a Mississippi community college, and probably in the region,” he said. The conference center is in full operation having hosted 263 meetings and events since July 2005.
Students are taking advantage of Project SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising and Registration) this summer on all campuses. Instead of offering three orientation sessions as the college has done in the past, Project SOAR includes 34 half-day programs which are designed to provide more students with more personal one-on-one counseling and advising.
In terms of enrollment, Dr. Spears reported that “we maintained our enrollment this year in spite of the effects of Hurricane Katrina, an improved economy and lower unemployment rates, high gas prices and increased competition for students.”
Other good news for the college included a recent unexpected $100,000 bequest from the estate of 1945 alumna Frances “Marie” Dean.
Overall, contributions at the end of 2005 were $523,000 — which was an $80,000 increase for 2004 figures.
“We believe that the school year just completed was productive in every way, and we look forward with great anticipation and optimism to 2006-07,” Dr. Spears concluded.
Graduates with high honors
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