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McFarland to retire from CWC
Jo Anne McFarland addressed faculty and staff Thursday morning at Central Wyoming College Rustler Gym. The longtime CWC president announced her retirement, effective in June. Photo by Wayne Nicholls

McFarland to retire from CWC

Dec 12, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

She's been the college's president for 25 years

Central Wyoming College president Jo Anne McFarland has announced her retirement, effective June 30, 2014.

She has spent more than 41 years at CWC as an instructor and administrator.

McFarland notified the CWC Board of Trustees of her plans Wednesday evening, and on Thursday morning she met with staff to discuss her departure.

She has been CWC's president for 25 years.

"I've had marvelous opportunities and wonderful joys and celebrations, and defeats and heartaches," McFarland said of her time at CWC. "We've gone through all of that together. ... It's been an honor."

She was on the verge of tears several times Thursday as she looked out at her employees gathered in the CWC gym. McFarland said it is the staff that made her presidency a success.

"The trick is to get really good people," she said. "I've always known, really, that I bask in what you've done."

In her letter to the board, McFarland said she is proud of CWC's accomplishments during her presidency. Recent visible successes include the construction of the Intertribal Education and Community Center and the Health and Science Center on the Riverton campus, but McFarland also pointed to internal progress in the areas of program development and strategic planning.

"You've made remarkable gains forward in terms of access and success," she said.

She feels confident that she is leaving the college in a position from which the institution can continue to improve and better serve the needs of students.

"The reason I know that is we have you," she told her staff. "We really do prize innovation and excellence, (and) we trust in and value our human resources. If there's a time you can withstand and transition from a president who's been here for 25 years, it's now."

Several people have asked her if her departure is related to a health problem or other personal issues, but McFarland said that isn't the case.

"I'm leaving because it's a good time to do that, and it makes sense for me, and it makes sense for you," she said. "I'm going to be as OK and satisfied and active as I choose to be."

She hinted that she may enroll in some classes at CWC, and she said she will continue to support the school as a private citizen.

One employee asked if she would run for elected office.

"I wouldn't necessarily rule that out, but it hasn't been prominent in my mind at all," McFarland said. "I try to be apolitical."

Another person suggested she apply for the president's position at the University of Wyoming, but McFarland laughed at the comment.

"I really wouldn't even make the first cut, but that's fine - that would not ever be my choice," she said, noting the many differences between CWC and the larger university. "At community colleges our size ... it's so rewarding to be able to be close to the community you serve."

She said she would consider teaching again, depending on the field.

"Maybe on a volunteer basis," she said.

McFarland's first job at CWC was as an adjunct faculty member in 1970. She served as an instructor, a professor, a division chair and a college dean before being named Wyoming's first female college president in March 1989.

The CWC board in November voted to extend her contract for three years, through June 30, 2016.

"But we understood at some point she would announce her plans for retirement," board chair Charlie Krebs said.

Trustee Scott Phister agreed.

"We knew this day would come," he said Wednesday. "I was afraid it would've come a long time ago; I've feared having to go through the process of replacing her."

The board has already begun making plans to search for a new president. The trustees will meet in executive session Jan. 30 to develop the process, and Krebs pledged to keep the public informed of the board's progress.

So far, McFarland said Thursday, no one has suggested naming an interim president.

"It is my belief that a search can be accomplished and a wonderful fit for the institution can be named within the next six months," she said. "I don't see this as a long, drawn-out process. ... The person (chosen) would begin July 1 or shortly thereafter."

She doesn't have a formal role in the selection, but she said she will offer her advice if asked, and she will help ensure the transition in leadership goes smoothly. She also hopes staff and faculty will have opportunities to give input during the search.

"I would encourage you to pass on any thoughts you have about the process (to) me, and I can forward them on to the board," she said. "The process is important."

McFarland has been honored for both her professional and academic affiliations. In 1997, she was the recipient of the Pacesetter of the Year from District IV of the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations.

In 1991, she received the "Distinguished Alumna Citation" by Cottey College, and she was recognized that same year at home by receiving the Fremont County "Women Making History Award." She was selected by students as CWC's Outstanding Teacher in 1978, and she is a member of the women's education honorary Delta Kappa Gamma and Phi Delta Kappa.

At the University of Wyoming, where she earned her bachelor's degree, she was named to Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi. At Cottey College, she was president of Phi Theta Kappa and was inducted into Delta Psi Omega and Mu Sigma Epsilon.

She was also recognized by the local community with the John L. "Jack" Larsen Fremont County Leadership Award in 2008, and she was the recipient of the Riverton Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. McFarland was selected as the recipient of the Association of Community College Trustees 2010 Western Regional Chief Executive Officer Award.

She served a three-year term on the American Association of Community College's Commission on Publications and Public Relations and completed two one-year terms on AACC's Commission on Public Policy/Government Relations. She also served as chair of AACC's Commission on International/Intercultural Services.

In 1998, she was elected to a three-year term to the AACC Board of Directors before being elected to a three-year term on AACC Presidents Academy Executive Committee where she made numerous presentations at national conferences. She was also appointed to two different two-year terms on Association of Community College Trustee's Advisory Committee of Presidents and was on AACC's Commission on Minority Resources. Since 1993, she has been a consultant/evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission and is on the HLC's Accreditation Review Committee. She was also the associate editor for the Michigan Community College Journal.

In Wyoming, she was a member of the Wyoming Workforce State Youth Council, the Wyoming Area Health Education Center Advisory Council, was chair of the Wyoming Community College Presidents Council, past president of the Wyoming Community College Deans Council, the Wyoming Coordinating Committee of the National Identification Program, the Community College Computer Consortium and was appointed to the Wyoming Economics and Education Task Force.

She also chaired the CWC American Indian Education Advisory Committee and the Wyoming Community College Commission Ad Hoc Task Force on Districting and Finance.

McFarland also has served on many local and state committees, including the Riverton Hospital Board. She also participates in community organizations such as Rotary and P.E.O.

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