Dr. Rittle takes part in final Board meeting as College president

June 21, 2022

After seven years as president of Cowley College, Dr. Dennis C. Rittle took part in his final Board of Trustees meeting Monday in the Earle N. Wright Community Room. Also, during Monday’s meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the 2022-2023 proposed operating budget of $24,834,769.

During Dr. Rittle’s time at Cowley College he helped the school grow to include the Sumner Campus in Wellington. Along with the opening of the Sumner Campus Technology and Innovation Center in 2018, the Short General Education Center in Wellington opened in the fall of 2019. He also helped with the athletic turf project, salaries study, and had a commitment and passion for Cowley College athletics and the success of its students. During his tenure, the Cowley College Recreation Building was renamed the Linda Adams Hargrove Athletic Center and the softball (Ed Hargrove Field) and track and field complex (Mark A. Phillips) were named after long-time coaches of the College.

Prior to Monday’s meeting, many of the 19 current and past members of the Board of Trustees that have worked with Dr. Rittle presented him with a plaque in honor of his years of service to the College.

Board Chair Gary Wilson was among those to thank Dr. Rittle for the work he did.

“In the end, Dr. Rittle and I always found a way to move forward in the best interest of the College,” Chair Wilson said.

The remainder of the Board echoed those sentiments.

“The Board has not always been easy to work with and we appreciate the fact that you kept coming back for more and were able to keep things moving,” Trustee Glennis Zimmerman said. “You should pat yourself on the back for the job you have done.”

Dr. Rittle said it has been a wonderful seven years, and each one of the Trustees he worked with brought different aspirations and ideas, but in the end, it was always about helping the students be successful.

“I wish great success to whoever comes in after I am gone and keeps the College moving forward,” Dr. Rittle said. “My time at Cowley has been very satisfying on so many levels. Thanks to everyone for making it a joy.”

In other matters:

1. Dr. Rittle provided the Board with a College update. He mentioned the employee evaluations and department budgets had been completed. Deferred maintenance projects and work on the McAtee Dining Center are underway. More than 100 individuals came out to show their support for the naming of the Mark A. Phillips Track and Field. Lastly, thanks to the RISE Cowley Grant, Cowley College has received funds to help with upgrades in the Nelson Student Center.
2. Glennis Zimmerman provided the Board with a Trustee Finance Subcommittee update.
3. Brett Bazil provided the Board with a Trustee Policy Subcommittee update.
4. Dr. Steve Abrams 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 May 16 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: (115.00) Professional Development Policy; (118.00) Guidelines for Staff Reduction in Force (RIF); (165.00) Sick Leave Policy – Full-time non-faculty employees; (216.00) Graduation Requirements.
  5. The Board approved the following policy (142.00) Access to College Facilities.
  6. Tabled policy 170.00 Nepotism for further discussion.
  7. The Board approved the resignation of Crystal Hunt as administrative assistant to the vice president of academic affairs, effective June 3.
  8. Approved the employment of Verlan Willhaus as welding/construction trades instructional staff (Winfield Correctional Facility), effective August 1.

7. Trustee Brett Bazil provided the Board with a KACCT Quarterly meeting recap.
8. The Board approved removing the in-district tuition rate and replacing it with an in-district scholarship of $10 per credit hour for Cowley County resident students.
9. Kristi Shaw, vice president of student affairs, provided the Board with an enrollment, recruitment, and retention update.
10. Holly Harper, vice president of finance and administration, provided the Board with a Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) update.
11. Dr. Michelle Schoon, vice president of academic affairs, informed the Board that a graduation ceremony will be held on June 28 to celebrate all of the accomplishments at the Winfield Correctional Facility this last semester.
12. Paul Erdmann, vice president of information technology, provided an update on projects the information technology staff has worked on over the past month.
13. Debbie Phelps, executive director of institutional effectiveness (IE), informed the Board that Cowley College was recognized by Dr. Blake Flanders, President of the Kansas Board of Regents, as the community college recipient of a 2022 Data Quality Award. This recognition is awarded annually by a committee of KBOR staff and institutional research officers to two institutions with high scores for quality of submitted state and federal data collections, involvement with peers, and support for the Regents' strategic plan. The College was specifically recognized for its support of the Regents' strategic plan through employee participation with the National Institute for Student Success (NISS). “Big shout out to Debbie Phelps and all involved in the data,” Dr. Rittle said.
A press release is planned when the certificate is received in the mail.
14. Jason O’Toole, director of athletics, informed the Board that the spring athletic season was a success. The Tiger baseball team and men’s tennis team highlighted the performances, with each finishing as the NJCAA Division I national runner-up. Women’s tennis placed fifth nationally, while the Lady Tiger outdoor track and field team (10th) and men’s outdoor track and field squad (22nd) also had successful seasons.
15. Jessica Lucas, Government Affairs Liaison, provided a legislative update.
16. Approved the purchase of a 2015 Dodge Ram from Zeller Motors at a cost of $39,175. The College was awarded a matching JIIST (Jobs and Innovative Industry Skills Training) grant from the State of Kansas for $50,000. The grant will be used to purchase a trailer that will be customized to create a mobile learning lab that can travel to various locations and schools. The matching portion from the College will be the purchase of the truck to pull the large trailer. The truck can also be used in the CTE programs as an automotive vehicle when not on tour. The operating budget for CTE and Academics will be used for this purchase.
17. The College regularly publishes all required notices in the Cowley CourierTraveler, which is considered the best practice for maintaining communication with the total community college district. The July Board meeting will again be held in the Earle N. Wright Community Room, while the remaining monthly meetings will be held in the McAtee Dining Center.
18. Held three executive sessions lasting a total of 35 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel regarding the College presidential search, pursuant to the exception for discussion relating to non-elected personnel.
19. The meeting adjourned at 7:46 p.m.

Rama Peroo

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