The Garden City Telegram
10/23/2013
SOUTHWEST LIFE

GCCC Board of Trustees provides vision, guidance

In light of the current budget battle taking place in Washington and the ongoing query over congressional accountability, I think this is an appropriate time to reiterate to Garden City Community College's stakeholders the measures GCCC employs to ensure transparency and quality assurance.

First and foremost, the college's mission is to produce positive contributors to the economic and social well-being of society. Furthermore, GCCC is a public institution serving the public good through efficiency, accountability and equality. These impressive goals can only be accomplished with consistent guidance and direction, two invaluable commodities provided by the GCCC Board of Trustees, and channeled through an innovative system of institutional governance.

The taxpayers of Finney County are the owners of this institution, and they are represented by an elected group of six trustees. The current trustees are Chairwoman Merilyn Douglass, Dr. Bill Clifford, Jeff Crist, Ron Schwartz, Steve Sterling and Terri Worf.

The board employs a system of policy governance as a means to maintain accountability for the mission and heritage of the college. Simply put, this system allows the board, on behalf of the people it represents, to ensure that the college achieves what it should and avoids what is unacceptable.

This is accomplished through a specific methodology called "Policy Governance." First, the board determines the goals that GCCC should meet as a comprehensive community college and public entity. This is done by connecting with the owners, or taxpayers, in order to understand their values and assess the needs of the community. Second, the board sets the overall parameters that college employees must adhere to in meeting these goals. Rather than getting directly involved in the means themselves, the board simply sets limitations as to what to do and what not to do in the process of meeting these objectives. The trustees then empower the president and those of us who make up the faculty, staff and administration to work toward attaining those goals.

The ends — or objectives — that have been set by the board are:

* Essential skills — students will possess essential skill

* Academic advancement — students desiring academic advancement will be prepared for successful transfer to other colleges and universities.

* Work preparedness — students will be prepared for success in the workplace

* Personal enrichment — recipients pursuing individual interests will be personally enriched.

* Workforce development — workforce development will be responsive to community economic development and employer needs.

Finally, the trustees monitor the progress of these objectives through a series of monthly reports presented at each board meeting. This is a mechanism intended to enable the board to judge how well its directives are being met and to ensure accountability of public resources. All meetings of the governing body are open to the public and are on the second Tuesday of each month in the Endowment Room located in the Beth Tedrow Student Center.

One major advantage and key component of the policy governance system is responsibility. The staff and faculty are responsible to the president, and in turn, the president is responsible to the board. The board, quite clearly, is responsible to the public. In fact, it is the main responsibility of the Board of Trustees to be responsive to the ever-changing environment and needs of the community. Additional advantages of this governing model are that it enables the board to remain future-focused, encourages diversity in viewpoints, emphasizes an outward vision rather than an internal preoccupation, provides clarity about roles and responsibilities, and most importantly, ensures accountability for the use of public resources.

Our community can be proud of the standards and systems the Board of Trustees maintain and be assured that GCCC is well positioned to face future challenges and to achieve the board's vision of being a model for community colleges across the nation.