TORRINGTON – With just one month on the job, Dr. Lesley Travers sees forward motion at Eastern Wyoming College.
“We’ve added a few new horses to the corral,” said Travers, the newest president of the college in Torrington. “We’re moving at a really good pace.”
That was her message Monday when she addressed Torrington Rotarians during the groups regular weekly meeting at Cottonwood at Torrington golf club here. Changes are in the works, she said, some already made and more are coming in the future.
And those changes are being welcomed by the faculty and staff, the folks in the trenches at the college, she said.
“Most of the people I’ve talked to on campus are pretty happy campers,” she said. “They like the direction we’re headed.”
At a recent Board of Trustees, for example, several policies were addressed, clarified or introduced to help clarify the direction the college is taking and codify how it gets there, she said. The goal is to increase student success, increasing graduation and transfer rates and EWC eventually finding employment.
“Student success is important, especially with the way the state is going,” Travers said. “The only reason we’re here is for the students.”
From little things – such as showing pride in the college by installing a flag pole in front of the new Career and Technical Education Center and flying the Lancer flag on days of home games – to widening leadership opportunities within the college, retaining students, staff and faculty are key to success at EWC. Research shows that 25 to 50 percent of students who seek a first year of post-secondary education, be it community college of four-year institution, don’t return or graduate, she said.
Giving students what they need to succeed is one way to address that statistic. One way to accomplish that goal is make sure students can access academic assistance when they need it.
“We need to improve our gateway classes … for students who were not quite prepared for college,” Travers said. “We need to ensure those students are successful.”
Along with student success, staff and faculty growth is vitas as well, she said. Travers talked of the importance of “growing our own leaders” at EWC and giving those who receive promotion to heads of department the tools and time needed to become effective leaders
“We want to help our supervisors become successful supervisors,” she said.
Academics, as important as they are, are only part of the overall college experience. Travers pointed out a program she worked with about six years ago while employed at Casper College, traveling with a group of students to Kenya to build a dining hall for a center working with orphans and other at-risk youth, as part of an overall mentoring program at the school.
“That’s a valuable, important aspect of service learning,” Travers said. “We need to teach students to do well in the classroom and in the community. We need to make sure our students, when they leave, have the tools they need for success.”