Interim President of Cowley College Dr. Michelle Schoon says she’s ready to steady the ship after a tumultuous few weeks that saw the college’s Board of Trustees terminate the contract of former president Dr. Randy Smith.
Revelations about Smith’s personal financial troubles and complaints from employees regarding his management style led the board to unanimously fire Smith from the position during a special board meeting on Feb. 2.
Smith was hired by the board in July.
Schoon, who was the Vice President of Academic Affairs for the college before her selection as interim president, said in a news release from the college Friday she understands the challenges ahead but has faith in the school’s successes.
The full news release on Schoon from Cowley can be read below:
Moving beyond the events of the last couple of weeks, Cowley College interim president Dr. Michelle Schoon has been looking at organizational structure and processes and evaluating the state of the college.
“The College will be challenged with a reduction in state funding next year, making it imperative that we start looking for ways to be more efficient with our resources and explore other sources of revenue. We have been able to do some innovative things with grant dollars over the past year. The college received a congressional direct grant for $225,000 in September to fund the Tiger Learning Center (TLC) to provide academic support for our students. A department of commerce grant for $50,000 helped to fund the Tiger Tech Trailer project to provide on-the-go technical training. Grant dollars have also been used to launch academic programing at the Winfield Correctional Facility, where we have provided work-ready technical training to over 49 students.
The college was awarded a four million dollar ARPA grant with matching funds to finance a new CTE facility which will provide needed instructional space for welding, criminal justice, and cosmetology and provide an area for new program expansion. Groundbreaking for the new building is targeted for spring.
There are some exciting things happening in the academic area. Cowley College is honored to have two teams qualify to participate in the National Quiz Bowl tournament in Chicago.
Although Fall enrollment was short of our expectation, enrollment Fall to Fall retention rates were strong at 62%, compared 58% median of our peer group.
The College was recognized by the state for the work done in Adult Education, with five programs approved for AO-K pathways. This allow for students to enroll in select technical programs and concurrently enroll in the adult education program to work on a high school diploma. The adult education program started providing classes in Winfield in January.
Cowley College athletics teams have continued the rich tradition of success. Celebrating its 100th year of Tiger athletics, Cowley College continues to strive for excellence on the playing fields, evidenced by the school finishing fourth in the 2022 Daktronics NATYCAA Cup Standings.
In the fall, the Cowley College men and women’s cross country teams each placed sixth at the NJCAA Division II National Championships. While the Tiger men’s soccer team repeated as district champions and advanced to the semifinals of the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in Melbourne, FL.
The Lady Tiger volleyball team finished 40-5 in the fall and placed fifth at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.
While, the Tiger men’s and women’s tennis teams are coming off tremendous 2022 seasons as the Cowley men finished as the national runner-up at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament and the Lady Tigers placed fifth. The Tiger men’s tennis team is ranked No. 1 in the preseason national rankings, and the Cowley women are ranked second.
The Tiger baseball team, fresh off its national runner-up finish at the 2022 JUCO World Series, is ranked seventh in the preseason poll and is picked to win a sixth straight Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division title.
The Lady Tiger softball team is also ranked 15th in the preseason poll and picked first in the Jayhawk Conference (Division II).
The Tiger men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams are nationally ranked and eager to do even bigger things in the outdoor season. The Cowley women are ranked 10th,d the men are ranked 11th nationally.
Cowley’s wrestling team is also performing well, as they recently went 3-1 at the Jayhawk Duals and placed fourth in the Jayhawk Conference.
Cowley’s cheer and dance teams also continue to shine and are the defending region champions.
Dr. Schoon looks forward to serving the college and the community in this role as interim president.
“I know that Cowley College will continue the long-standing tradition of providing a quality academic experience to our students,” Dr. Schoon said.