Two College Finalists Came to Western and Two More Set to Visit This Week

Two College Finalists Came to Western and Two More Set to Visit This Week

Western Wyoming Community College has announced the finalists for its presidential search. Photographed from left to right are Angela McLean, Kirk Young, Bryan Newton, and Bonny Copenhaver. Photos courtesy of Western

ROCK SPRINGS – Two of the four finalists for Western Wyoming Community College’s presidential search have spoken to community leaders and residents about their experience, with two more scheduled to visit this week.

Bonny Copenhaver

Bonny Copenhaver was the first finalist to visit the college and is the president of New River Community and Technical College in Beaver, West Virginia. The college serves the south central portion of the state. Having served as the college’s president since 2019, she highlighted successes with an aviation mechanic program and a partnership with an area school district to offer nursing classes to students, allowing concurrent enrollment which gives them the opportunity to graduate high school with a nursing degree. 

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New River CTC is establishing an aviation mechanic program and recently received a Beechjet Twin Bonanza, which Copenhaver said cost $100,000 and was purchased in a partnership between the college, the American Electric Power Foundation and Northstar Technologies LLC, and represented the latest step in building the program. Copenhaver said the program also is part of an expansion at the local airport that will add 600 jobs to the area. Copenhagen said there are a lot of former military and former coal miners looking for new careers and sees the program as something that can help fill that need. 

Copenhaver said community colleges need to be ready for the students coming to them, not wondering if students are ready to attend college. She said students tend to have a lot going on in their lives and education fills the cracks in what they’re already doing. 

Copenhagen described herself as a proud Appalachian and seeks roles at colleges where she believes would fit in. While she initially planned to be a professor but changed her plans after working at a community college.

Bryan Newton

Bryan Newton is the vice president for enrollment management and student services at Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, Maryland. The college has more than 3,600 credit students and 3,000 non-credit students each year.

Newton said he fell in love with working at community colleges after teaching as an adjunct instructor and started working in community colleges after a job at a nonprofit.

Newton said he helped design the first free community college program in Maryland and worked with the county commissioners to get the program off the ground. During his time at the college, its concurrent enrollment has increased from 300 students to 600 in 2023. Newton said studies have shown that student engagement is key to a student’s academic success and said community colleges need to make sure they’re keeping students engaged and enrolled.

He believes colleges should build upon their workforce development programs, saying community colleges are the drivers of economic development as they produce graduates for the local workforce. He said community colleges should adjust their curriculums to meet what local industries need and need to listen to industry and business partners. He said it’s important for a community college to let those partners know the college is there for them.

Newton said he believes in being active in the community he works in and said he doesn’t believe in being in an ivory tower when it comes to working with employees and wants to do the right thing, saying that philosophy improves morale with employees.

Newton said he stays at colleges he’s hired to work at, having only worked at three community colleges over the course of his 23-year career in higher education.

Two More to Go

The final two visits will take place this week. On Monday, Angela McLean will visit the college, while Kirk Young is scheduled to visit the college on Tuesday. Open houses for both candidates take place at 7 a.m. in Western’s Living Room, which are followed by candidate introductions and a question-and-answer period starting at 7:45 a.m., in Room 1302. More information about the candidate can be found here.