April 2019 Meeting Minutes

Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes 

April 11, 2019

The North Arkansas College Board of Trustees met in regular session on Thursday, 11 April 2019, in the Bennie Ellis Board Room on the South Campus. Chair Bill Lovell called the meeting to order at 3 p.m. Trustees Kevin Cheri, R.G. Earnest, David Evans, Sara Jo Fendley, Chris McNew, Scott Miller, Sarah Newman, and Don Tomlinson were present.

North Arkansas College personnel attending included Melissa Bray, Brandon Cone, Kris Greening, Tavonda Brown, David Zinkle, Kim Tinsley, Nell Bonds, Don Sugg, Rick Williams, Dr. Rodney Arnold, Micki Somers, Kevin Somers, Paul Edmondson, Dr. Laura Berry, Cindy Mayo, Linda Tamayo, Jennifer Marshall, Mandy Kilbourn, Dr. Donna Wood, and Dr. Randy Esters.

 

Approval of Agenda

Chair Lovell asked if there were any changes to the agenda. There being none, the agenda stood approved.

 

Regular Reports

Foundation Report—Dr. Rodney Arnold reported that Jerry Jackson and Steve Stafford have both agreed to serve another 5-year term and will be continuing to serve on the Foundation Board. He offered an update on housing, reporting that the committee is talking to Bluffstone out of Iowa and Servitas out of Dallas. Servitas will be on campus Tuesday, April 16th, for an onsite discussion. An opening in Fall 2020 seems realistic. He also reported on the third and final year of the NJCAA National Tournament, noting that they had a great tip-off party and that the KCKCC Lady Blue Devils won out. He invited everyone to attend Nolan Richardson’s talk at the Durand Center on the 16th, saying that the timing is great since the University of Arkansas has just proposed renaming the basketball court in his honor. He concluded by inviting everyone to the Evening on the Plaza, where Roger Harness, Cathy Brandt, and Ginger Fenter will be recognized.

Finance Report—Don Sugg presented current revenues and expenses through 31 March 2019. He reported that Tuition and Fees are ahead of schedule and may exceed the budget. Program/Course Fees are ahead of the budget with ¾ of FY2018-2019 completed, and expenses are right at 76% so it is projected to be a good year. Overall, Educational and General Revenue is slightly ahead of past years. Expenses are up as well, mostly due to salaries. He noted that the Auxiliary Fund is in the black, which is a $61,000 swing up from last year, mostly due to the outstanding job being done by the bookstore manager, Jennifer Marshall. Though revenue is down, expenses are down $102,000 from last year with a net gain YTD of $28,000 compared to the budgeted amount of $6. He pointed out that the expense trendline is smoothing thanks in large part to the bookstore maintaining perpetual inventory.

President’s Report—Dr. Randy Esters started by seconding Don Sugg’s acknowledgement of the wonderful job Jennifer has been doing. He thanked everyone for their help with the tournament, noting that it took the whole community to make it such a success. He gave a special thanks to Charla Jennings and her volunteers for running the hospitality room and to Don Tomlinson for cooking. He pointed out that Northark got to be part of the historical event of the first all-female officiating team in a tournament at any level. Dr. Esters asked Tavonda Brown to share about the Achieving the Dream initiative. She shared that North Arkansas College was one of six colleges selected, and that our assigned coaches will visit the campus next week. The program will help the College focus on persistence, retention, and completion.

Dr. Esters mentioned that TRIO advisor Pam Freer recently went to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the TRIO program. He also pointed out recent achievements by NAC students, such as the ten PBL students who qualified for national competition and the many gold and silver medals brought back from the SkillsUSA competition. The Carroll County Center has also been in the news lately, and they are teaming up with the community to offer a wide variety of courses and services. He also shared that Joe Berry just returned from a trip to Tanzania with Mike Rogers from Tyson Foods. They had a great trip and Joe will share in the future. Also, the Special Olympics were hosted at Harrison High School on April 5th. Northark coaches and athletes helped with the event, noting that it is something they look forward to each year.

The Spring Fling recently took place on both the South and North Campuses, which was a great time for students. Health Career Days were held April 11th and 12th, and area high school juniors and seniors had the opportunity to see the health programs Northark offers. Dr. Esters pointed out that the Agricultural programs are changing for the better, with Sean Millikan and Michelle Buchanan doing a lot of good for the development of the program.

Dr. Esters announced an agreement with the Walton College of Business and asked Dr. Donna Wood to explain the significance. Dr. Wood said that this agreement will create a seamless transition from our A.S. in Business to a B.S. in Business Administration at the University of Arkansas. She thanked Dr. Laura Berry and her team for all of her hard work in making this possible.

Dr. Esters ended his report by inviting everyone to attend the final lecture in the Civil Conversations series, where North Arkansas College will be hosting Jeff Corwin at the Durand Center. He also invited everyone to attend, “A study in Ozarks literature,” presented by Dr. Phillip Howerton, on April 17th in the LRC. Don Sugg added that Dr. Howerton used to be a Northark faculty member.

 

Consent Agenda

The Consent Agenda included the March Regular Meeting Minutes and the Compensation Plan. Chair Lovell requested a motion for approval, which was made by Trustee Evans and seconded by Trustee Earnest. Chair Lovell asked for any further questions or comments from the Board; there were none, and the consent agenda was passed unanimously.

 

Monitoring Report

Rick Williams gave the monitoring report on Ensuring Quality (Technology) Infrastructure and Enhancing the Use of Technology and Innovation. He noted that one measure used is the age of equipment, including all end-user computers less than four years old. However, it is important to note that today’s equipment is designed to last much longer than four years. He pointed out that IT has been working on techniques to extend the usable life of equipment, including the installation of Solid State Drives which dramatically increase performance.

Despite the age of the computers, employee and student satisfaction has increased as shown through two surveys: PACE and CCSSE. Survey results have improved in both categories due to recent improvements (faster fiber backbone, upgraded labs, Solid State Drives, Zoom rooms, LRC technology update, mobile laptop cart for North Campus, and Canvas implementation). Planned improvements should keep the positive trend (finalize SIS integration, update labs, upgrade switches, replace/add analog security cameras with digital, increase number of Zoom rooms).

 

Executive Session

Chair Lovell asked for a motion to move into Executive Session. Trustee Evans made a motion, which was seconded by Trustee Cheri. Trustee Miller motioned for the Board to reconvene in regular session, which was seconded by Trustee Fendley. No action was taken.

Once in Regular Session, Chair Lovell noted that Trustee Evans had chaired the President’s Evaluation and Compensation Committee and that the Executive Session had been held to discuss those results. He thanked Trustees Miller and Newman for being part of the committee, and Don Sugg and Kris Greening for the information they had each provided. He asked Trustee Evans to report on the Committee’s findings. Trustee Evans thanked Katie Vaugh for her help in preparing and compiling the survey results, then shared that the evaluation form consisted of 51 questions rated from 1-5 He noted that Dr. Esters did not average below a score of “4” on any question. Trustee Evans reminded those in attendance that when Dr. Esters began his service to the College, his starting compensation was significantly lower than that of most other presidents of 2 year colleges in Arkansas. In addition, Trustee Evans noted that Dr. Esters had declined a pay raise for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Consequently, the Committee believes that Dr. Esters’ compensation is not in line with the current market for 2 year college presidents in Arkansas, especially considering that Dr. Esters’ performance evaluations and contributions to the College have been exceptional. One Trustee emphasized that the Board has an obligation to ensure that all positions in the College are compensated according to the market for those positions. Therefore, the Board recommended that Dr. Esters receive a 3% raise and a 1 year contract extension (to 6/30/22). Notwithstanding the Board’s recommendation, Dr. Esters respectfully requested that his compensation not be increased at any higher rate than other employees of the College—i.e., 1%. He expressed the belief that, at this time, this was the right decision for the overall benefit of the College. Upon discussion with Dr. Esters, and in respect to his concerns, Trustee Evans moved to award Dr. Esters a 1% raise in holding with the raise planned for all employees, and to extend his contract by one year. Trustee Cheri seconded the motion. Chair Lovell called for a Roll Call Vote; the Board voted unanimously for a 1% raise and 1-year contract extension. Chair Lovell added that while Dr. Esters does not want to upset anyone, the Board hired him with the understanding that once he had proven himself his compensation would be increased to be more in line with that of his peers.

 

New Business

FY2019-2020 Budget—Don Sugg noted that the Trustees had been provided with information on the proposed FY2019-2020 budget. The proposed budget is comprised of two main operating funds (Education & General and Auxiliary) and a Capital & Debt component, with a total overall projected income of $17,132,651 and total overall expenditures and net transfers of $17,012,114, resulting in a projected overall net gain of $120,537. Chair Lovell noted that the Trustees had the opportunity to study the budget materials at the Board Study Session and asked for a motion to approve the proposed budget. Trustee Newman made a motion to approve, which was seconded by Trustee Earnest and approved unanimously.

FY2019-2020 Tuition, Mandatory Fees, and Miscellaneous Fees—Don Sugg noted that the Trustees were provided with information on the proposed tuition and fees changes for the 2019-2020 year. The only change is a $3 per course credit hour (CCH) increase in tuition for In-District, In-State, and Out-of-State/Contiguous residency categories. The new tuition rates would be $74.00 per CCH In-District, $99.00 per CCH In-State, and $124.00 per CCH Out-of-State/Contiguous. The Out-of-State rate remains unchanged at $169.00 per CCH. Chair Lovell thanked Don Sugg for all the work he had put into both the Budget and Tuition, and called for a motion to approve the proposed tuition change. Trustee Tomlinson made the motion, which was seconded by Trustee Cheri and unanimously approved.

Center Campus Recommendation—Dr. Esters reminded everyone that in December 2018 the Board had recommended that the College be open to proposals about the future of the Center Campus for 120 days, which ended on April 5th, 2019. He noted that although there had been some interest, no one had found it economically feasible to save the tower. There have been many considerations, from converting the building into a parking garage to removing the top stories and saving the bottom, but none have proven viable.

He said that this reminded him of a float trip he had taken with Dr. Rodney Arnold when they saw people jumping off a cliff into the river. He recalled climbing to the top of the cliff but being too scared to jump and returning to the water, saying that moving forward with plans for the Center Campus reminded him of that trip. He told the Board that we are standing on that cliff, scared to move forward, but that we don’t have the choice of climbing back down. He stressed that we want to do what is best for the College and the community, and therefore asked the Board to allow his committee the time to entertain any viable options, but to give permission to move forward with plans to transfer ownership of the Durand Center to the city of Harrison and to obtain bids for the demolition of the tower. He reminded the Board that they will still decide on each step moving forward and that this just gives permission to move forward as planned. A motion to allow Dr. Esters and his team to keep all options open as long as they believe it is logical, to negotiate for a transfer of ownership of the Durand Center, and to proceed with developing a plan for the adjoined parking lot and to demolish the tower side of the Center Campus was made by Trustee Miller, seconded by Trustee Tomlinson, and unanimously approved.

 

Recommendation of Awards Committee—Chair Lovell asked for a report of the recipients of this year’s commencement awards. Dr. Esters said he would like to present Jane Adair with the President’s Award this year, both for her long-time support of and service to the College and for her personal support of his family when they moved to the area. Trustee Tomlinson shared that his committee (with Trustees Fendley and McNew) looked for an individual who had started a program at the College that was ongoing. As a result, the committee chose Bill Blevins, the founder of the Heavy Equipment program, who had served the College for 30.5 years. Trustee Earnest made a motion to approve the recommendations of the committee, which was seconded by Trustee Fendley and approved unanimously.

 

Board Comments

Chair Lovell thanked everyone for supporting the NJCAA tournament, noting that Trustee Cheri had attended all but one game this year. There being no further business, Chair Lovell asked for a motion to adjourn. A motion was made by Trustee Tomlinson and unanimously seconded and approved. The meeting adjourned at 5 p.m.