(Riverton, Wyo.) – Former Central Wyoming College President Dr. Jo Anne McFarland often said during her career that there would be “dancing in the streets” when she left the college. A street dance was actually planned to fulfill her prophecy, but Thursday afternoon’s deluge convinced planners to move the dance and picnic inside. Rustler Gym on campus was the venue for the college’s farewell to it’s 25 year-long president who had been at the college a total of 41 years, starting as an adjunct professor.
“This is overwhelming,” McFarland said at the conclusion of a short program during the picnic and dance. “All of us here celebrating are demonstrating compelling power and inspiration of our mission. I was somehow lucky to attract the smartest and most dedicated people, a staff who is invested in the college. We are all joyfully involved.”
McFarland noted the importance of the college’s mission and the people it serves. “We have had classes for all ages, all mixes of ethnicity and cultures from little tots to senior citizens,” she said. “If we were not here, people would not have the opportunity we had. We are linked together by shared vision.” The long-time president then looked back in time and credited the late Robert A. Peck with his vision “for a college on the hill” that he first discussed in 1950. It took 16 years, but the college he had dreamed of was finally established.
“I have no doubt about the future of this college,” McFarland said. In her final remarks to the over 100 attendees, Jo Anne quoted Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Other speakers at the event included Professor Robert Hussa, St. Sen. Cale Case, Mayor Ron Warpness, former board of trustees member Dennis Christensen, CWC Foundation President Joyce Dauler and Professor Emeritus Barbara Gose.
“Colleges lift people and you have lifted this college,” Case told McFarland. “You’ve lifted this campus, you’ve lifted people in the community, you’ve lifted the faculty and students here and lifted the system of colleges in this state.”
Warpness thanked McFarland for her years of dedicated service to the college, and he recalled the days of his youth when the campus was a sagebrush flat that he would cross going to Griffey Hill to collect agates. “The growth of this college has been steady and high quality. You’ve made massive improvements to this campus.”
Recalling a seminar he once attended while on a national community college commission, Christensen noted that “the Eagle won’t soar without support,” and he said the faculty and administration that McFarland brought together, “raised the FTE count from 1,000 students to 2,200 today,” which he said was an outstanding accomplishment.
Dauler said McFarland’s tenue reflected “promises kept” and Gose said McFarland had “never stopped teaching.”
The CWC Food Service provided hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and chips for the indoor picnic and String Theory, a band from Lander, provided the dance music.