New community college trustees gather info

GILLETTE — Less than a month into the Gillette Community College District’s existence, trustees are still in the “information gathering” phase, in regard to forming a budget, appointing a district president/CEO and beginning the accreditation process.

Chairman Robert Palmer said that while the board has not taken action on appointing a district president yet, he hopes it reaches a consensus on who to hire in the next 30 to 60 days.

Another priority of the board is to reach a memorandum of understanding with the Northern Wyoming Community College District.

Palmer will be joined by trustees Alison Ochs Gee and Josh McGrath in working with NWCCD representatives on an agreement on how to navigate the upcoming years, while GCCD seeks its own accreditation and continues to operate under the NWCCD umbrella in the meantime.

During Tuesday’s special meeting, Palmer said he expects to report an update on those discussions at the board’s next meeting.

Trustees will convene next in a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 1.

On Tuesday, they also agreed to a regular meeting schedule of 11:30 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. Its first regular meeting will be Oct. 20.

The committees on budget, branding, policy and the memorandum of understanding updated the board on Tuesday, but have not reached the point of taking action.

“These committee reports, it’s just a lot of information gathering at this point,” Palmer said during the meeting. “We’re just trying to get ourselves familiar with the different aspects of being a community college board and what it takes to run the eighth community college (district) in the state of Wyoming.”

As far as a timeline for accreditation, trustee Olin Oedekoven said it is too early to begin speculating on that. At this stage of development for the new district, he said trustees can educate themselves on the process, but it is too soon to approach the Higher Learning Commission.

“Before we even start engaging them in the conversation, there are many pieces and parts we need to have in place, before we can have a realistic conversation with the (Higher Learning Commission),” Oedekoven said.

Because of Gillette College’s existing infrastructure and programming, accreditation has been estimated to take up to five years.

Those serious conversations with the Higher Learning Commission about accreditation may not begin until next spring, he said.