Northwest College

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Annual Report


Great Workplace

Institutional Priority: Great Workplace
Institutional Imperative #2:

Northwest College shall be a great place to work.

Strategic Goals:

-Employee satisfaction with Shared Governance and Senior Leadership exceeds national benchmark levels of the "Great Colleges to Work For" annual survey.

-Employee satisfaction with communications and Faculty, Administration, and Staff Relations exceeds national benchmark levels of the "Great Colleges to Work For" annual survey.

    Employees were encouraged to participate in the "Great Colleges to Work For" survey and to share personal observations about the "perks, benefits or practices" that make NWC's culture great. Observations fell into four major categories: strong institutional focus on family priorities, plentiful opportunities for student-community interactions, campus pride and a working climate that values employees. Overall participation in the survey was up slightly over 2012; results will be available for analysis during the fall 2014 semester.
    Stefani Hicswa immediately demonstrated her strong commitment to open communication and transparency in leadership after assuming NWC's presidency in July 2013. She scheduled regular meetings with constituency group presidents and instituted monthly all-employee meetings to share information and encourage inquiries. She starts each semester with a State of the College address and provides regular reviews of national, state and local college trends, news and reports. After a few months in the presidency, she also launched a blog where she shares personal and professional insights and photos, as well as media appearances.
    Employee input helped update Northwest's comprehensive Facilities Master Plan. A team led by A&E Architects of Billings, Montana, worked with a steering committee of campus representatives to evaluate and update the college's 2008 Facilities Master Plan. The expanded document also addresses the office and programming moves that will happen after several programs are relocated to the Yellowstone Building. Employees were provided multiple opportunities for input and reaction as the plan took shape. The three-month process began in early December and was completed in March 2014.
    College leaders partnered with NWC Foundation leadership to develop a creative funding model for underwriting construction of the new Yellowstone Building. Combining legislative funding, college budget reserves, a new student facilities fee and a flexible-loan option, the funding plan allowed Northwest to build the facility without asking taxpayers to increase property taxes. The 47,000-square-foot instructional building is on track to be ready for fall 2014 classes.
    An NWC Foundation Resource Collaboration Group was established to create a strategic process for identifying fundraising opportunities in support of the college mission. Comprised of NWC trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and Foundation board members, the group developed a preliminary list of projects that will be refined before the end of the year. The final list will direct the Foundation's major fundraising initiatives beginning in 2015.
    NWC's Emergency Management Team received comprehensive training which was put to the test during two mock emergencies staged during spring semester. Team members learned the parameters of their individual roles and responsibilities when collaborating with other public entities in an emergency response situation. The college's Crisis Communication Team also participated, establishing a protocol and support materials for communicating during and after an emergency.
    NWC employees threw rocks, big rocks, at new President Stefani Hicswa after her first all-employee presentation. She asked for it when she filled a large jar with different-sized rocks to illustrate the importance of first identifying and addressing the college's highest priorities (big rocks). Employees obliged by submitting what they believed are the college's biggest challenges. Hicswa and a "Rock Band" of employees divided the rocks into four buckets—pride in student experience, pride in place, pride in college community and pride in fiscal integrity—that will be used to direct activities and inform future strategic plans.
Institutional Priority: Great Workplace photo 1

A fall campaign (with a little good-natured arm wrestling) bumped employee gifts to the NWC Foundation over the $71,000 mark. The Foundation's total assets rank 43rd among the country's top 100 two-year college foundations.

Institutional Priority: Great Workplace photo 2

NWC employees showed new President Stefani Hicswa their appreciation with a spontaneous standing ovation during the end-of-year Employee Awards Banquet, marking the first presidential ovation in the history of the banquet.

Institutional Priority: Great Workplace photo 3

Employees celebrated a successful semester by wearing pajamas the last working day of 2013. Students weren't around, but the camaraderie built during the day was still warming the halls when students returned in January.