College Trustees Plan Special Meeting to Discuss Presidential Job Offer

College Trustees Plan Special Meeting to Discuss Presidential Job Offer

ROCK SPRINGS – Following Tuesday’s last presidential finalist visit at Western Wyoming Community College, the college’s trustees are ready to consider making an offer.

A special meeting will take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m., in Room 3060. The only agenda item listed is “consideration and possible action to extend an offer of employment to a candidate for the new president.” The meeting will include an executive session.

While the public presentations by the candidates took place in the morning, meetings with college faculty and students, along with tours of the college and Rock Springs, took place throughout the day, culminating in a discussion and dinner with the board of trustees in the evening.

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“We get them when they’re tired,” board member Neil Kourbelas said.

The last finalists came to the college earlier this week, with Angela McLean and Kirk Young arriving at the college on Monday and Tuesday respectively. The prior two finalists visited last week.

Angela McLean
McLean is the director of American Indian and Minority Achievement and K-12 Partnerships for the Montana University System Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, a role she’s had since 2016. She was also the interim director of the University of Montana Bitterroot College during the 2022-2023 academic year. 

McLean said she has studied Western since being told she is one of the college president finalists. She said she believes in keeping the “community in community college.” She spent much of her career in public education and said she understands how an economy based on mining and mineral extraction supports families. 

In her current role, she said American Indian enrollment into community college and university level grew, with enrollment at 14 of the 16 colleges the office tracked reporting growth in Native American enrollment last year, being up 6% while the rest of the country saw a decline in enrollment by 1%. 

She also mentioned her track record in workforce development, talking about the Montana Future at Work program – a program that provides high school students with workforce credentials before they graduate. She said this year, the program expects 144 students to graduate with a certification in medical assisting, HVAC, or a construction-related trade. She also believes in a “grow your own” initiative that was implemented in Montana to help solve a shortage of K-12 teachers that would start training high school students to be high school teachers in their communities. 

She says the college should tap into the energy economy and grow its bachelor’s degree options in the future.

Kirk Young
Young is the vice president of student affairs at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. Young is originally from Utah, having worked in various roles at Utah Valley University before being hired at Jamestown Community College in 2014.

Young said a college president needs to know the strengths of their team and how best to utilize those strengths, saying the problems community colleges face are tough and finding the smartest person in the room to solve an issue doesn’t work. He also said a college needs to be a resource for its service area, but needs to be able to lead when it comes to issues like economic development.

In addressing problems recruiting industrial technology instructors, Young said an agreement loaning a skilled worker to the program to help train students or reaching out through industry partners to promote vacant instructor positions, as well as offering a competitive salary and benefits package.

Young outlined his vision for addressing workforce needs, highlighting programs at JCC that focus on foundation partnerships with business, industry, healthcare, and other fields; as well as focused on fast-tracking programs and providing credits awarded to students for prior learning and work experience. He believes community colleges should evolve with local, regional and national economies.