The Cowley College Board of Trustees voted 5-0 on Dec. 11 to appoint Nancy Burger, of Winfield, to fill Sid Regnier’s vacant seat. The seat was empty for 274 days following Regnier’s resignation in March, when the board decided to leave it open until after the November election.

Short family, Burger deed land to Cowley College

Courtesy photo

Newly appointed Cowley College trustee Nancy Burger, second from right, was present Dec. 21, 2016, for the signing of a deeded property worth $1.76 million from the Short family to the college to construct the Sumner County campus. With her were, from left, Bob Juden, former chair of the Cowley College Board of Trustees; Cowley College President Dennis Rittle; and Burger’s mother, Marjorie Short, owner of Short Land Company LLC.

Burger was one of two applicants to apply for the position, along with Parkerfield Mayor Michael Bergagnini, who ran in the recent election.

Burger is a former principal of Country View Elementary School in Winfield and also served as elementary curriculum director for the Winfield Public School District. She currently is employed as an administrative manager at W.D. Short Oil Company.

The company formerly was owned by Burger’s father, the late William D. Short, who died in 2004.

Burger’s mother, Marjorie Short, is the owner of Short Land Company LLC and the donor of 18 acres of property just east of Walmart in Wellington, along U.S. 160, that will be the site of the new Sumner County campus.

In exchange for the land, the family received naming rights to the first building. The Short General Education Center is set to open in 2018.

Burger was present last December when her mother deeded over the property, worth $1.76 million, for the Sumner County campus.

“The gratitude of Mr. (Bob) Juden, Dr. (Dennis) Rittle and Dr. (Gloria) Walker made the experience ever more fulfilling,” Burger said then. “I know under their leadership that the college will flourish.”

Her educational background includes a bachelor of general studies degree from the University of Kansas, a bachelor of science degree from Newman University in Wichita and a master of education degree from Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

“The board wishes to thank all of the citizens of Cowley County for their interest in this vacant seat and wish to welcome Mrs. Burger to the Cowley College Board of Trustees beginning January 8, 2018,” said newly appointed board chair JoLynn Foster.

Burger appointment process

The only other person to apply for the vacancy was Bergagnini, the fifth-highest vote-getter in the November election with 1,115 votes.

Letters to the editor have been written by Bergagnini and others, advocating that he be appointed to the vacant position.

Bergagnini has been attending the college’s board meetings since September. Burger was not present at Monday night’s meeting.

The decision to appoint Burger was made without any discussion of either applicant or any attempt to interview either candidate. The appointment of a new trustee was not listed on the agenda provided to media prior to the meeting.

This process differed from the precedent set when the board appointed Jill Long to serve the remainder of former trustee Jim Ramirez’s term. The process used for that appointment included interviews in front of the board and a public vote of the board of trustees.

Burger will serve on the board of trustees for the remainder of Regnier’s term, which concludes Jan. 13, 2020.

Former trustees sound off

Former college trustees Albert Bacastow and Mark Paton each expressed concerns about Burger’s appointment in interviews Dec. 12.

Paton said he thought certain facts about Burger should have been presented to the public prior to her appointment, especially her relationship to the “very generous” Short family.

“I feel like that’s something that should have been disclosed,” he said. “(They) should have been open about the relationship.”

Bacastow said the more appropriate decision would have been to listen to the voters in the recent election and appoint Bergagnini.

“If I’d have been a member of the board, I would have gone with the next highest vote-getter,” he said. “It’s just common sense.”