Name: Jonathan R. Hansen
Position you are running for: Cowley College Board of Trustees
Family members (e.g. spouse, children, grandchildren): Married to Sarah Kate Reilly and we have four children: daughter, Maley, a seventh-grader; son, Arri, a fifth-grader; daughter, Alola, a third-grader; and daughter, Zadie, a first-grader. Maley attends ACMS and the other three attend Jefferson Elementary. We also foster athletes for Cowley College women’s soccer and track — too many to name, but you know who you are! Dogs: Bacon and Phog.
How long have you lived in Arkansas City?
Have you served on any boards previously?
No, but I’m looking forward to the present opportunity.
Why did you choose to run for this position?
It is extremely important to me and my family that we live in a community that has access to and values higher education. I have a wide variety of higher education experience in both community colleges and large and small universities as a student, athlete, resident, researcher, and teacher. I believe quality education should not be costly, and community colleges are essential to the educational and cultural enrichment of the communities they are in. I believe my experience in education, as well as my role in the community, would bring a unique perspective to the Cowley College Board of Trustees.
What do you think of the plans for the new Sumner County campus and how its construction will be financed?
I’m very excited for the growth of Cowley College and I’m excited for the Sumner County residents. I recently attended the groundbreaking ceremony, and it was a truly historic and inspiring day. Sumner County voters have approved a half-cent county sales tax for a period of 10 years, which will be used to construct the campus, and the land has been generously donated. Cowley College and the residents of Sumner County have worked very hard to make the Sumner campus a reality and I’m fully confident in its success.
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?
I believe that Cowley should focus on connecting with future students in new and innovative ways, in addition to employing traditional recruitment techniques.
Through expansion of social media and other technologies, Cowley has the opportunity to not only draw in new students, but to create a unique culture. Student life on campus should be a focus. Cowley College should continue to offer relevant courses, and expansion of housing and other student facilities to accommodate and draw new students should be a priority.
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?
During the 2017-2018 academic year, the college will engage in the master planning process for its campuses, which will represent a phased approach that will improve existing structures, facilitate growth, anticipate the program needs and flexibility of evolving curriculum, serve the lifestyle needs of students, and better serve the broader service area of Cowley College.
I would assist in this process as the college sees fit and ideally, the college would take many voices into consideration. The planning process should include Cowley employees and students, business leaders, and community members/taxpayers. The master plan can be seen as the business plan of the college, and as such it will continually be updated as things change and time passes. That said, those parts of the current master plan that are still deemed relevant to the vision of the college should be retained.
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?
According to current Kansas statutes governing community colleges, when a vacancy occurs, the board shall publish a notice one time in a newspaper having general circulation in the community college district, stating that the vacancy has occurred and that it will be filled by appointment by the board not sooner than 15 days after such publication. One proposal has been that the board nominates the person with the next largest amount of votes in this upcoming election.
Whatever the decision, I’m confident in the Board of Trustees ability to nominate an additional board member.
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?
I would encourage the board to create a policy to fill future vacancies that would include a time limit.
If the college were to add one curriculum or program of study, what would you like it to be?
I would like to see Cowley add a web development certificate program that could eventually transition into an Associate of Applied Science in Web Development.
Web Development certification has the breadth to attract first-time students, current professionals wanting to build their résumé and local businesses wanting to keep up in a digital world. I think that this type of program would be perfect for community collaboration, as well, pairing students with local businesses to help them create and maintain a relevant digital experience.
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 not be interested in adding additional sports at this time. I feel it is more important to focus on the success of Cowley’s newest program (wrestling) while strengthening all other existing programs with a goal of increased community support.
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?
I have met with Dr. Rittle several times and I am very impressed. He has been courteous with his time and has always made me feel as if my comments/concerns are valid. I can see that he is very passionate about his role in Cowley’s success and I believe in his vision for the college. He is as rockin’ as his kicks and I dig the bow tie.
Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you or why you are seeking this position?
Cowley College is a great place and it would be an honor to work with them to continue offering quality affordable education and valuable community enrichment.
I would appreciate your consideration in voting for me on November 7.
This information was provided by Jonathan Hansen, candidate for the Cowley College Board of Trustees.