Central Wyoming College President Dr. Jo Ann McFarland addressed the college staff and some students from the basketball court in Rustler Gym Thursday morning. (Ernie Over photo)
(Riverton, Wyo.) – Central Wyoming College President Dr. Jo Ann McFarland only choked up once when addressing the college staff this morning officially announcing her resignation to them. After warming up the crowd in Rustler Gymnasium and waiting for everyone to be seated, McFarland began her remarks by announcing her retirement “from this wonderful place.” That’s when her voice choked and she took a moment to recompose herself. It was smooth sailing the rest of the way.
“It’s been an honor and I did okay with the board and the staff, and you, you are amazing,” she said. “The real great thing about being a college president is to get really good people who share our very compelling mission. My role is like a video of herding cats, but that’s our strength.” She noted the faculty has a degree of autonomy to carry out the policies that come down from the board. “We get to decide how to do that.” She said the ability to have autonomy and connect with a position at the college “and do it your way while making it better, is what matters most.” She said salary is secondary to that, according to a recent national poll.
“We’ve had huge successes in programs and learning spaces, our Lander Center is coming on and we’re about to rollout some co-curricular initiatives,” she said. “The seeds have been planted, they will be nurtured here and burst into bloom because of you. We have a culture that prizes innovation, creativity and excellence. We value our human resources.”
McFarland, who has been at the college for 41 years, the last 25 of which as it’s president, said her replacement would be chosen by the college’s board of directors and she said they indicated they would start to develop the formal process to do that on January 30th in an executive session on campus in AW 138. In answer to a question, she said the board offered no hint nor suggestion that an interim president would be named. “It’s my belief the search can be accomplished within the next six months.”
To that, Wyoming PBS Manager Ruby Calvert asked McFarland if she could urge the board to have an open process. “Unlike that which they just had at Wyoming.” McFarland said she could only advise the board, but said she would take that suggestion to them.
Todd Guenther asked if the board was of the thinking to hire an outside search firm. “At our summer board retreat this past summer, during a discussion on board and administrative succession planning, the board indicated then that they would consider a variety of search models,” she said, “Which would welcome internal candidates.” Guenther opined that outside experts usually create chaos. “And we should look in Wyoming for someone who knows us.”
In answer to another question, McFarland said she had no health problem which resulted in her resignation decision. “It’s a good time to do this, there are other things I want to do, which could include taking some classes up here, like photography from Lonnie (Slack).”
On a more serious note, she also said the college is now at the top of its game with some big successes and good programs in place. “Leaving is bittersweet, yes, but this should be a time of celebration. We’ve gotten so far but there’s so much further to go.”