The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 12, 2014

Crowder presidential finalist pushes for ‘intentional’ strategic planning

NEOSHO, Mo. — Jennifer Methvin, one of three finalists for president of Crowder College, said she thinks it’s time for the college to consider where it wants to go in the future.

“I think we may be at a time where Crowder College could catch its breath and think about strategic planning,” she said. “If the college is going to sustain (its growth), I think we’re going to have to be very intentional about our strategic direction.”

Methvin, vice chancellor for academics at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, addressed a crowd of Crowder faculty, staff and board members during a public forum Wednesday, and answered questions about how she would serve if she were to be selected as the college’s next president.

Public forums already have been put on with the other two finalists: Brent Bates, vice president of education and student support services at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, and Jim Cummins, vice president of finance at Crowder College.

In both her presentation at the forum and in answering questions, Methvin repeatedly said the college would need to be “intentional” in handling its rapid growth and enrollment boom. Enrollment has nearly doubled in the past half-dozen years across the college’s multiple locations.

She said external pressures that urge growth likely won’t fade over the next few years, but the college should focus on sustaining the types of growth that lead to positive outcomes, such as enhancing the lives of students and putting them in better employment situations.

In answering a question about the retention of students, Methvin said the college should also be intentional in efforts to keep students who enroll and see them through their degree programs. She said part of that is keeping students engaged in their studies, but Crowder would ultimately have to find a model that works for its campuses.

“The model is out there,” she said. “We just have to find the time and the resources to do it.”

James Tatum, former longtime member of the board of trustees, asked Methvin — as he had asked the first two candidates — how she would work to attract nontraditional students, or those who have dropped out of the public school system.

Methvin said the college needs to tap into the people, employers, schools or social service agencies that serve those individuals to begin to reach out to them and build their trust in the community college system.

“It’s about relationships to those folks, so I think we have to start with the entities that already have those relationships and work with them,” she said.

Methvin said that in her current and previous positions, she gained experience in decision-making across college departments, such as academics, student services and business or financial affairs. She acknowledged that she has little to no direct experience with residential life or athletic programs.

Methvin previously was a division chairwoman at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, and she taught English at various universities. She has a doctoral degree in community college leadership from Walden University.

Planned meeting

THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES hopes to offer the position to one of the candidates by March, with the new president beginning his or her duties no later than July 1. The board has scheduled a closed meeting, as allowed under state law, for Friday afternoon to discuss personnel matters related to the presidential search.

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