Board of Trustees hear from national champion cross country team

November 17, 2021

Cowley College’s Board of Trustees hosted a special visitor during its monthly meeting held Monday in the McAtee Dining Center as the national champion men’s cross country team brought their trophies to share with the group.

Led by Adrian Diaz-Lopez and Amos Pkiach finishing as the individual national champion and the national runner-up, the Cowley College men’s cross country team brought home its first national title since 2010.

Diaz-Lopez took home first place with a time of 24:52.1, with Pkiach just behind with a time of 24:55.3. Diaz-Lopez was named the Men’s National Athlete of the Year and USTFCCCA Division II Central Region Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year. While, Tiger men’s head coach Cameron Rieth was named USTFCCCA Division II Central Region Men’s Coach of the Year as well as the NJCAA Division II Men’s National Coach of the Year.

“I am grateful to be a part of Cowley College and have the amount of community support we get,” Rieth said. “Our theme after finishing third last year was “Unfinished Business.” We were ranked No. 1 all season long and the pressure did not weigh on them one bit.”

The Tiger men finished 20 points better than second place Daytona State College.

Trustee Chair Gary Wilson shared his congratulations on behalf of the Board.

“We are honored and proud to have talent like you guys here at Cowley College,” Chair Wilson said.

In other matters:

1. Cowley College president Dr. Dennis C. Rittle provided a college update. Dr. Rittle congratulated the Cowley Collegiate Quiz Bowls for a successful weekend of competition. Zane Hubble finished second overall among individuals and the Cowley B team placed fourth. He also mentioned the Cowley volleyball and men’s soccer teams that are unbeaten and competing at the national championships. Dr. Rittle also provided thanks to Trustees Brian Sanderholm and Ned Graham, who were on the Board that hired him nearly seven years ago, as they prepare to leave the Board in a few months. Lastly, he reminded the Board that the December Board meeting will be held at the Sumner Campus in Wellington.
2. Saw Dr. Rittle present a gift to November Student of the Month Martyna Kowalska of Lezsno Poland.
3. Trustee Chris Swan provided the Board with a Trustee Finance Subcommittee update.
4. Board Chair Gary  Wilson provided the Board with a Trustee Policy Subcommittee update.
5. Approved the Consent Agenda to include, minus the Financial Reports:

  1. Board Minutes of the October 18 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: (106.00) President Emeritus; (159.00) Professional Attire; (182.00) Naming of College Facilities, Programs, and Events.
  5. The Board approved the following policies: (122.00) Payroll Accounting; (123.00) Optional Payroll Deductions; (136.00) Accepting of Gifts by Employees; (245.00) Professional Activities; (252.00) Student Records.
  6. The Board approved the resignation of Joseph Hooley as custodian, effective November 5.

6. Approved the Financial Report.
7. Kristi Shaw, executive director of enrollment management, informed the Board what the College is doing in terms of growing enrollment. The College recently hosted CTE Faculty Day, Senior Day, and an early childhood conference. The College also recently started a new cohort in Carpentry Constructions Trade with the Winfield Correctional Facility. Shaw also shared information on high school visits, the upcoming Phone-a-Thon and events in the spring that are in the planning stage.
8. Debbie Phelps, executive director of institutional effectiveness, shared information on the work being done on the 2022-2025 Strategic Plan. The Board approved the adoption of the six institutional priorities listed below. Focus, Impact, Equity, Relevance, Community, and Equip (FIERCE).
Focus: Cowley College identifies and meets student needs through teaching and learning processes aligned with unique support systems to support its core mission, student success. Priority 2 I Impact: Cowley College leverages resources to increase scope, minimize student constraints and improve operations. Priority 3 E Equity: Cowley College creates a strong community that demonstrates inclusive and equitable treatment of its stakeholders. Priority 4 R Relevance: Cowley College adapts to meet changes in higher education and stakeholder needs. Priority 5 C Community: Cowley College commits to the public good by creating engagement and value for its service area. Priority 6 E Equip: Cowley College invests in its employees to create a culture that promotes personal and professional growth.
9. Holly Harper, vice president of finance and administration, provided the Board with a Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) update.
10. Dr. Michelle Schoon, vice president of academic affairs, informed the Board that the Humanities and Communication department is hosting a recruitment day for high school students on November 17 that will include a variety of writing and video contests. Also, the Student Pantry, run by Phi Theta Kappa members, is growing quickly. The pantry provides free food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies to students in need. It has been used 218 times already this semester, nearly the amount it was used all of last year.
11. Paul Erdmann, vice president of information technology, provided an update on projects the information technology staff has worked on over the past month.
12. Kristi Shaw, executive director of enrollment management, provided an enrollment update. Shaw also informed the Board of the recruiting events the admissions representatives have assisted with over the past month and have lined up in the coming months.
13. Debbie Phelps, executive director of institutional effectiveness, informed the Board the College’s Fall Census Collection is complete and under review. This data set includes information about the students enrolled at Cowley College on the census or 20th day
14. Julie Rhoads, faculty liaison, provided updates from several Cowley instructors.
15. Jason O’Toole, director of athletics, informed the Board that the Tiger men’s soccer team is still undefeated and won its first game at the NJCAA Division I National Championships held Monday in Tyler, TX, while the Cowley volleyball team is still undefeated and ranked number one at the Division II level. They are the top-seed in the Division II National Tournament that begins on Thursday in Cedar Rapids, IA.
16. The Board approved to renew the 5-year contract with Blackboard for the College learning management system software at a cost of $547,569.67.
17. The Board approved the request for the following consulting engagement and conversion services to support the success of the Blackboard for the College Learning management system at a cost of $51,480, using HEERF funding.
18. The Board approved Cowley County Community College to enter into a lease purchase transaction, the proceeds of which will be used to pay the costs of acquiring, constructing and equipping certain building improvements in Sumner County, Kansas and approving the execution of certain documents in connection therewith.
19. The meeting adjourned at 7 p.m.


Rama Peroo

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