President John Masterson is ready to ride into the sunset.
Masterson recently announced his retirement to ACC faculty and staff via email, saying he’d “thought long and hard about this decision.”
Masterson added that he “loved and still loves” his position as Allen Community College, but decided he was ready to step down after serving as president just shy of 30 years.
ACC board members discussed the transition at Tuesday night’s meeting. The hunt for a new president will likely be performed in-house rather than hire a consulting firm.
The new president is scheduled to take the helm in summer 2022.
IN OTHER news, the college is faring much better this semester in relation to COVID-19.
According to vice president Cynthia Jacobson, only one student is currently in quarantine, and they are at the Burlingame campus.
There are no current cases or quarantines at the Iola campus, and only one staff member has gone for testing after showing symptoms.
More than two dozen employees received their COVID vaccinations last week, and a similar number are scheduled to receive the vaccine this week.
Following the lead of other colleges, Allen is easing its COVID restrictions in the dining hall, by allowing self-serve salads/drinks, and transitioning back to regular plates.
And speaking of easing restrictions, nearly 40 new international students plan on attending the college in fall, now that increased travel is possible, and there may be another 20 more moving forward. (At least 30 international students plan to return.)
Another piece of positive virus news is that no ACC sporting events have been canceled this semester due to virus cases.
During financial discussions, it became apparent that ACC is going to receive significant federal funds for COVID and economic relief, via the 2.0 CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan.
The college is therefore beginning to develop spending plans as well as devising ways to share with the community how relief/stimulus funds are being spent.
The goal is to allay concerns by answering the question: “What are you doing with all that money out at the college?”
Whether it can be covered by the above funds is unclear, but one item ACC is going to have to pay for moving forward are repairs and replacements for plumbing in classrooms B19 and B20 that were damaged during the recent cold snap.
“I’m a college president, not a plumber,” said Masterson, “but that’s going to be a major project,” especially since the pipes date back to 1969.
Another, perhaps less daunting project involves work at the sports fields. If all goes to plan, the softball diamond will soon have a new fence and the team will have a new clubhouse. Both the baseball and softball fields will soon have new turf.
In partnership with Thrive Allen County, the college is also beginning the process of building a trail around the perimeter of campus that will link up with other area trails.
During his report, vice president Jon Marshall discussed the “achievement gap,” that is, differences in student performance between minority and general populations, (e.g., Black and white students).
He averred that “we’re not seeing an achievement gap at Allen and we’re thrilled about that. Our students of color are attaining their degrees, and their credits transfer on at the same rate.”
He also discussed how the college is beginning to successfully transition away from the Blackboard course system to Canvas, which means that all student course websites will soon have a new look and feel.
Marshall also said that the library has begun doing information literacy sessions with students. This teaches them how to become critical recipients of information, say, by being able to spot false information online, and may soon become a state-wide requirement.
The college’s renewed search for an anatomy and physiology instructor has been more successful than the previous attempt, and candidates will be touring campus this week.
Marshall further noted that ACC is looking to expand telemedical services to all students, after successfully being used by those needing psychological and English-as-second-language services.
The summer session is scheduled to begin June 7.
A number of student activities are also planned moving forward.
On Wednesday, students raised money by throwing pies at various ACC personalities, including president Masterson and Iola mayor/ACC instructor Jon Wells.
The college’s homecoming is March 24, with the coronation ceremony at halftime of the mens’ game (approximately 8:45 p.m.).
Decisions regarding commencement will come following spring break.
The library’s BINGO nights have been wildly popular with students, often drawing more than 30 participants at a time.
A number of prospective students have been visiting campus, and taking advantage of ACC’s virtual touring options.
Students will also get to enjoy some new furniture soon. The board of trustees approved just short of $20,000 in amenities from Contract Supply, Inc.