Weatherford Democrat

September 18, 2013

Weatherford College reports all-time high enrollment

Weatherford Democrat

— In its September meeting, the Weatherford College Board of Trustees on Thursday discussed the needs of the Testing Center, heard a request for a tax abatement, heard details about grant funded programs and dispensed with several other routine items.

In his president’s Report, Dr. Kevin Eaton reported to the board that enrollment is at an all-time high, with 5,717 students on all campuses, a 2 percent increase over last fall. Additionally contact hours are up more than 2.3 percent.

Lela Morris, director of the WC Testing Center, updated the board on the number of tests administered at the center on an annual basis, discussed revenue generated and presented a detailed outline of equipment and facilities challenges.

Sharon Hayes, City of Weatherford assistant city manager, presented a request that the college grant a tax abatement to a new company that is building a warehouse and distribution center on B.B. Fielder Road at Interstate 20. Near college property, the new beer distributorship would employ upwards of 150 people within two years. Board chair Frank Martin asked Hayes to gather more information for the board – specifically, the number of expected new hires and whether college-trained truck drivers could have an opportunity for employment. Hayes agreed to come back to the board with answers at a future meeting.

Additionally, the board heard detailed reports from three administrations who oversee grant programs at the college. Dr. Shirley Chenault, who administers a $2 million Title III grant for allied health careers – Occupational Therapy Assistant and Physical Therapy Assistant, as well as a health professions academic skills laboratory – reported that both OTA and PTA are implemented at capacity with 20 students each.

Kay Young, dean of workforce and economic development, reported her department is currently administering $1.1 million in state grants for truck driving and other specialized training for local industry.

Eaton also recognized Ralph Willingham, director of admissions, for having received the 2013 Bill Pearson Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Association of Veterans Education Specialists for his contributions to veterans and the associations that serve them.

Additionally, the board:

• Heard an update from Jim Swan of Johnson Controls regarding the energy savings contract: one of two new wells is being dug now, which will enable new irrigation pipes to be tested and dirt closed over soon; new pole lighting has been installed around the campus, and new building lights will be in place by the end of the month.

• Heard an update from Jarrett Jones of Steele & Freeman on the construction of the new Don Allen Health Science Building: the slab was complete as of Thursday, and within the next four weeks new steel supports should be completed.

•  Approved contracts with vendors for web and color printing for college publications.

• Reappointed Eaton to serve on the Weatherford Economic Development Authority Board for another two-year term.

• Heard reports on the following: cash balance and financials as of July 31; announcements, including upcoming college events that include the Capital Campaign Victory Celebration and groundbreaking ceremony for the Don Allen Health Science Building on Oct. 10; children’s drama “Cinderella Confidential” on Oct. 18-20 and the fall student photo show, Oct. 18-30.

The next regular meeting of the WC Board of Trustees is scheduled for Oct. 10.