August 2002: NCA awards continued accreditation
At the turn of the century, Northwest College was deep into the rigorous self examination associated with a comprehensive accreditation evaluation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools scheduled in 2000-01. The NCA evaluation team visited campus in the spring of 2001. The following August, NCA notified the college it received continued accreditation for 10 years, the maximum period. While the next comprehensive evaluation is scheduled for 2010-11, NCA asked Northwest to provide a progress report on the institutional strategic plan in June 2002, and a monitoring report on the institutional assessment plan and evidence of implementation in June 2003.
July 2003: Miles LaRowe steps into presidency
After President Frances Feinerman's resignation on July 26, 2002, NWC trustees chose Dr. Elise Schneider, retired president of Oxnard College in California, to serve in a one-year interim position during a nationwide presidential search. That search ended when Miles LaRowe, the president of Eastern Idaho Technical College in Idaho Falls, accepted the presidency of Northwest. LaRowe oversaw more than $5 million in campus renovations in five years. Several buildings were updated, including Lewis and Clark Hall, which had been closed for two years. The NWC Cody and Worland centers were both expanded, and a facilities master plan was developed. Also under LaRowe’s watch, the college’s financial integrity and health were improved. The NWC Foundation’s “Toward New Vistas,” a successful $8 million endowment campaign was conducted. In addition, the institution became the first “Disaster Resistant University” in Wyoming, a designation granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
March 2004: Bridger Hall lost to fire
A fire broke out March 30, 2004, in a second-floor residential room of Bridger Hall, one of the college's oldest residence halls. Fire departments from Powell, Cody, Lovell and Deaver-Frannie responded. All students living in Bridger Hall were evacuated safely and as a safety precaution, residents of nearby Colter Hall were also evacuated for one night. All students displaced by the fire were assigned alternative residential housing on campus through the end of the semester. An unprecedented outpouring of community support raised over $66,000 in cash, chamber bucks, local coupons and more for the Bridger Hall residents. Cause of the fire was determined by a Wyoming Fire Marshal to be an accidental failure of an electric device in a student's room.
September 2006: Simpson Hall introduces suite-style residence options
The proceeds from a $4.1 million Bridger Hall insurance settlement were used to build Simpson Hall, located on the north end of campus and completed just in time for fall semester 2006 classes. The 80-bed hall introduced suite-style living arrangements to the list of residential options available at Northwest. The building was named in honor of former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson and his wife, Ann. Both honorees were raised in Northwest College's service area and expanded their spheres of influence from the Big Horn Basin to Washington, D.C., and the nation. Sen. Simpson initiated a long career in public service serving as a Northwest College trustee from 1968-76, a pivotal time in the college's history. Simpson was instrumental in a successful campaign to expand NWC's tax district to include all of Park County. Ann focuses much of her energy on family, the arts and mental health issues. In Washington, she co-chaired the Congressional Wives Mental Health Committee and now serves on the Yellowstone Behavioral Health Center Board of Directors.
June 2008: Prestwich named NWC’s seventh president
After Miles LaRowe’s announcement in summer 2007 that he would retire after the 2007-08 academic year, a national search resulted in the hiring of Paul B. Prestwich as NWC’s new president. Raised in Colorado, Prestwich had most recently been vice president of academic affairs at Sussex County Community College in New Jersey. Before moving to the East, he spent six years at North¬eastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., where he held progressively responsible administrative positions. He took the Northwest College helm June 2, charged by the Board of Trustees to help ensure NWC’s continued accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, implement a campus facilities master plan, contribute to the state’s funding formula revisions and track work of a Community College Task Force Planning Study impaneled by the Wyoming State Legislature earlier that same year.
November 2012: NCA awards continuing accreditation
In awarding continuing accreditation to Northwest College on Nov. 17, 2012, the Higher Learning Commission cited four areas of positive observations: NWC’s strong commitment to student learning, responsiveness and good working relationship with the community, dynamic residential life program, and well-resourced creativeness in making sure students continue their education. Areas for improvement, which the HLC visiting team said were no surprise because they all “came across in your honest self-study evaluation,” included shared governance, development of planning, integration and implementation in various planning processes, and better data utilization in decision making. The visit culminated four years of research, information gathering, analysis and writing of a lengthy self-study report. The HLC will follow up in 2013 with a focused campus visit on planning and budget. During that visit, NWC will present a monitoring report on progress in student learning assessment.
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