Board extends appreciation to president Dr. Dennis C. Rittle

April 19, 2022

With Cowley College president Dr. Dennis C. Rittle recently announcing his plans to leave the College to serve as the fourth president of NorthWest Arkansas Community College located in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Cowley College Board of Trustees accepted a letter of resignation from Dr. Rittle effective July 9, 2022 during its monthly meeting held Monday in the McAtee Dining Center.

“We accept Dr. Rittle’s resignation with best wishes for his future endeavors,” Board Chair Gary Wilson said. “We thank you for a job well done.”

Dr. Rittle, the fifth president of Cowley College has served in this position since 2015. He began serving in higher education in 1995 and has provided educational leadership for government, for-profit, and public educational sectors.

Regarding Dr. Rittle’s career in education, he concluded his pursuit of higher education, culminating in a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership at the esteemed Regent University and has completed post-doctoral coursework at Harvard University. As a high-achieving transformational servant leader, Dr. Rittle has been the recipient of numerous local, state, and national awards in education, business, and leadership and has served as a guest lecturer at Harvard University and Oxford, UK.

Dr. Rittle considers himself fortunate to build upon the foundations of past Cowley employees and leaders.

“I hope history will show that my family and I have emptied ourselves to continue that legacy of commitment and passion for Cowley College and the success of its students,” Dr. Rittle said. “Peering into the future, my final day with the Cowley family is on July 9th. These departures are always filled with a mixture of strong emotions. Nevertheless, as my family and I peer past July 9th, we are bursting with excitement to continue doing the work which gives us so much joy and satisfaction, seeing students succeed, employees valued, and communities enriched.”

In other matters:

1. Dr. Steve Abrams provided the board with a Trustee Academic Subcommittee update.
2. Board Chair Gary Wilson provided the Board with a Trustee Finance Subcommittee update.
3. Chris Swan provided the Board with a Trustee Policy Subcommittee update.
4. Vice Chair Glennis Zimmerman provided the Board with a Trustee Ad Hoc Business Plan Committee update.
5. Approved the Financial Reports as presented.
6. Approved the Consent Agenda:

  1. Board Minutes of the March 14 meeting.
  2. Bills and Claims. Approved fiscal officers of the College to execute payment of all bills and claims as presented.
  3. Administrative Reports.
  4. The Board held first readings on the following policies: Reporting of Fraud (134.00); Political Activity (138.00); Technology Usage by Employees (143.00); Student Appeal of Course Grades (263.00); Credit Hour Definition (280.00); Satisfactory Academic Performance Policy for Federal Aid Recipients (433.00).
  5. The Board approved the resignation of Lisa Gott as custodian, effective April 4; approved the resignation of Bob Moffatt as welding instructor, effective July 1; approved the resignation of Nicole Murphy as admissions representative, effective April 22; approved the resignation of Dr. Dennis C. Rittle as president, effective July 9.
  6. Approved the employment of Abigail Rogers as English instructor, effective August 1; approved the employment of Monica Estiandan as Biology instructor, effective August 1; approved the employment of Dr. Thomas Weaver as Biology instructor, effective August 1; approved the employment of Laura Fleming as Tiger Deli Manager, effective April 19; approved the employment of Justice Circle as dorm manager, effective April 19.

7. Dr. Rittle provided a College update. He informed the Board that Martyna Kowalska was recently named the 2021-2022 Student of the Year. Also, the roof work at the Lodge Dormitory is now complete, while construction on the residential housing at the Sumner Campus is on track. Lastly, Dr. Rittle informed the Board of several grants the College is the recipient of, such as the Rise Cowley Grant, JIIST Grant, and Congressional Grant totaling nearly $300,000. “These Grants will help move the needle forward.”
8. Saw Dr. Rittle present gifts to Student of the Months, Isaac Stebens, Madisyn Pitts, and Joe Blake. 
9. Trustee member Brett Bazil provided the Board with a KACCT quarterly meeting recap.
10. Foundation president Dr. Kori Gregg provided the Board with a Foundation quarterly report.
11. Kristi Shaw, vice president of student affairs, provided the Board with an enrollment, recruitment, and retention update.
12. Holly Harper, vice president of finance and administration, provided the Board with a Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) update.
13. Dr. Michelle Schoon, vice president of academic affairs, mentioned the recent national CTE signing event which was conducted to help celebrate students committed to a career in Technical Education.
14. Paul Erdmann, vice president of information technology, provided an update on projects the information technology staff has worked on over the past month.
15. Debbie Phelps, executive director of institutional effectiveness (IE), provided the Board with a strategic plan update. She also informed the Board that the IPEDS Data Collection year ended during the first week of April. All collections for the reporting year were uploaded and locked on time.
16. Julie Rhoads, faculty liaison, provided updates from several Cowley instructors.
17. Jason O’Toole, director of athletics, informed the Board that all fall athletic programs are currently ranked in their respective sports.
18. Jessica Lucas, Government Affairs Liaison, provided a legislative update. Lucas mentioned the $4million the College is set to receive to construct a new Career and Technical Education Center. The College is in the preliminary stages on this matter.
19. Held a 40-minute executive session.
20. Approved the deferred maintenance equipment purchase of the remaining HVAC equipment at a cost of $1,090,261.00 to be funded with the HEERF grant.
21. Approved to contract with Neal Construction on the construction of the Bus Barn at a cost not to exceed $150,000.
22. Approved to contract with Retana Construction to complete phase two of the Ireland Hall remediation project at a cost of $51,000.
23. Approved to use Galaxie Business Equipment to update the College copier machines at a cost of $223,332.25.
24. The Board selected a screening committee for the hiring of a new president at Cowley College consisting of Chair Wilson and vice chair Glennis Zimmerman, with Trustee Marla Sexson serving as an alternate. The selection will be announced at a later date.
25. Trustee Chris Swan announced this would be his final Board meeting. He will announce his resignation from the Board in a formal letter to the Chair.
26. The meeting adjourned at 8:17 p.m.

Rama Peroo

Director of Institutional Communication & Public Relations
Cowley College
125 South 2nd Street
Arkansas City, KS 67005