I attended the fall District Boards Association (DBA) quarterly meeting and appreciated the opportunity to participate in person. I have attended a past meeting virtually and I have to say that attending in person is a tremendously better way to engage in the presentations and the only way to engage with the other participants.
Steve Tenpas, the assistant director of the District Boards Association, has sent you all a link to the highlights of the meeting. While it may be difficult to see the presenters in those videos, you can easily see the presentations and clearly hear the audio.
I won’t go into detail on any of the presentations, but the first one on Parliamentary Procedures/Rules of Order by a professional on the subject, was outstanding. Not only was Angie there for this presentation, but she was also able to attend the follow up session for the Executive Assistants where I’m sure they were able to go into more detail.
Layla Merrifield, the DBA Executive Director, did her usual great job giving us an update on legislative affairs highlighting the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) budget request that was sent to the Governor and that we will have an opportunity to support with our own legislators during the January Legislative Meeting in conjunction with the next DBA quarterly meeting from January 11th – 13th. Our funding request is a BIG one: more than $75 million of funding more than the $103 million approved in the last biennium. She gave us details on that request and more will be provided the morning of our meeting with our legislators. The DBA asked us once again to schedule our own visits with our legislators for that visit. I plan to attend that session and urge other board members to join Mid-State’s contingent.
Jee Hang Lee, the relatively new CEO of the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) gave us an update on what our national association is doing. This is the organization that publishes the Trustee Quarterly that all board members receive. They are the national association comparable to our state District Boards Association in that they provide educational opportunities and lobbying on behalf of the Technical and Community colleges. I have been under the impression that since this was an association for “Community Colleges” that as a Technical College we have been treated as a poor cousin. While that appears to have been shared by other Wisconsin Technical College trustees, from what Mr. Lee demonstrated and said, this has changed, and his statement was supported by several trustees in the audience.
Another eye-opening presentation for me was that of Jim Zylstra, the Executive Vice President of the Wisconsin Technical College System. He shared details about how the organization is structured and the work that various departments perform on our behalf. It is astounding how much they are responsible for with a relatively small group of 52 people, one of, if not the smallest Agencies of our State Government. We were then able to tour one of two aspects of Chippewa Valley Technical College which hosted this meeting in Eau Claire. I chose the Transportation area and saw their new $30 million expansion on their Energy Center Campus. It was an awesome tour of an amazing facility that they were able to build because of a successful referendum in which the community supported more than $50 million in improvements across their system.
We then boarded the bus to return to the hotel where I attended the Bylaws, Policies and Procedures Committee meeting. Two of the attendees there had undertaken a review of the District Boards Association’s bylaws. This was initiated earlier in the year due to a very confusing meeting where the officers of the DBA were up for election. One of the two committee members who undertook this review is an attorney, and it’s a good thing. He did a great job explaining that our bylaws need a significant rewrite and offered to lead that process. The committee will have a Zoom meeting the first week of November and probably one or two follow up Zoom meetings to continue as necessary. It was suggested that each college board put an agenda item on our next two meetings to discuss the proposed changes as they become available so that at the January meeting the District Board Association board of directors can consider the proposed changes.
There was a banquet later where two people were recognized, one was the Student Ambassador from Chippewa Valley, and the other was the Distinguished Alumni Award which was given to Kricket Koehn, from Nicolet College. She is an amazing young woman who started at Nicolet, went on to become a dentist, returned to her community to serve the dental needs of their communities and do so much more.
The next morning consisted of more reports and discussions, specifically highlighting the efforts of the Bylaws, Policies, and Procedures Committee meeting of the day before and the action plan recommended.
I strongly encourage other board members to attend future quarterly meetings of the DBA and to get involved in the committee you have been assigned to.