Name: Michael A. Bergagnini

Cowley College logoPosition you are running for: Cowley College Trustee

Family members (e.g. spouse, children, grandchildren): Wife, daughter, 17 grandchildren, seven great-grands to-date. Daughter and several grands attended Cowley College; some of the greats probably will, too.

How long have you lived in Cowley County?

35 years. I was a General Electric transplant who found a pleasant community in which my wife and I raised two children, and are doing our best to spoil 17 grands and seven greats.

Have you served on any boards previously?

Mayor of Parkerfield since 2004.

Why did you choose to run for this position?

To further understand the operations of this constantly expanding enterprise, to provide the value of my education and financial/planning expertise, and to help guide the wise use of Cowley taxpayer funds.

What do you think of the plans for the new Sumner County campus and how its construction will be financed?

The cost of the plan has not been fully disclosed. While the land has been donated and the initial building(s) will be financed by Sumner County, the extent to which Cowley County taxpayers pay for the setup and ongoing expenses has not been disclosed.

Cowley College had a slight increase in enrollment this fall after years of decline. What would you like to see done to try to continue this increase in future semesters?

Enrollment totals are not the best measure of a college success. Success is measured by retention (enrollment through completion of a program), credit transfers (acceptability of courses to higher-level colleges), and the number of students who complete programs and pass tests for technical licenses or flow into the workforce.

What input would you like to have on the college’s new master plan and what sorts of stakeholders should be part of that process? How much of the current master plan, which is less than five years old, should be retained as part of the new plan?

There is no “master plan.” The so-called “master plan” is an extreme, pie-in-the-sky, Field of Dreams, facilities and land-use wish list, which proposes a facility for which there never would be enough students, would greatly increase debt and would continually increase Cowley taxes.

As much as we like Cowley College and the area, a rural Kansas community college never will attract the 5,000+ students this master plan is designed for.

There currently is a vacant trustee position available that will be filled by the other trustees after this election. How do you think this replacement should proceed?

When notified of any expected vacancy, the board should immediately publish a request for candidates, evaluate candidates and fill the position. Kansas Statute 71-201(15) states they must publish, but does not state they must fill promptly.

In general, do you think it is appropriate to leave a trustee position vacant for an indefinite period of time, or should the board of trustees adopt some sort of time limit or deadline to fill future vacancies?

Response provided above

If the college were to add one curriculum or program of study, what would you like it to be?

Prior to consideration of the addition of programs, the college needs to look at the value of current programs.

The college begins competing in wrestling this year. Are there any other sports you would like to see Cowley participate in, and if so, how would you propose to finance them?

I would prefer an examination of the value of current sports to determine their value to the students and community before considering new sports.

What is your opinion of the job done so far by Cowley College President Dennis Rittle and his administrative staff? What changes, if any, would you like to see in their approach and/or the college’s direction?

Board criteria for evaluation of the performance of a college president and his administration should include the quality of the education provided, not the number of students enrolled, and keeping the dormitories filled. Annual quality measurements should include the percentage of students who either complete their program and move on to senior schools, those who obtain certificates or licenses, and those who secure good positions in their field of study.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you or why you are seeking this position?

I would like to help guide the board in providing a quality education within the parameters of a community college’s mission. The key responsibilities are quality of education provided, responsibility in management of taxpayer funds and transparency in operations.

This information was provided by Michael Bergagnini, candidate for the Cowley College Board of Trustees.