New WSCC president looking to continue moving college forward

SCOTTVILLE — In the past eight years that he has been employed by West Shore Community College, Scott Ward has watched the college take many positive steps in a variety of areas around the campus and throughout the college district.

Ward

Ward

When Ward was named as the fifth president of the college on Nov. 19 after serving as vice president of administrative services during the rest of his tenure at WSCC, he didn’t look at it as much as a job promotion as he did an honor to lead a great college and staff.

“I am very honored and very excited for the college as we have many exciting opportunities and prospects,” said Ward. “I know many of the issues and now have full ownership of many of them, but we are such a well situated college with such broad community support just generally from our donors, working with the school districts, business and industry that we have a lot of opportunities.”

Ward said his time as WSCC has gone very well and he enjoys the college and the district.

“When I came here eight years ago it was after being very selective, as I was happily employed, but I thought this was a good fit as a institution and community,” he said. “I think it has been a great fit and this institution fits very well with who I am and the community fits me and my family.”

The new president has been employed at the college since August 2009, serving as the vice president of administrative services. Prior to coming to the college, Ward was at the University of Wisconsin Marinette for eight years. From February 1993 to August 2001, he served in various positions at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

In December 1991, Ward earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Michigan University where he graduated magna cum laude. His Master of Business Administration degree (1996) is from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree from Liberty University.

“I expect it will be three to four years to get my doctorate degree and it will be a doctorate in business administration and leadership emphasis,” he said. “With the coursework I have seen so far I think it is very fitting for the leadership role of a college president.”

Ward served as acting/interim president from September 2014 to July 2015, following the retirement of former president Charles Dillon and again as interim president, since June 2017, following the resignation of Dr. Kenneth Urban.

West Shore Community College president Scott Ward (left) interacts with board chair Bruce Smith (center) and James Jensen (right) at a recent college board meeting. Ward said he is very honored to be only the fifth college president in the past 50 years.

West Shore Community College president Scott Ward (left) interacts with board chair Bruce Smith (center) and James Jensen (right) at a recent college board meeting. Ward said he is very honored to be only the fifth college president in the past 50 years.

After Urban resigned, Ward felt it was time for him to apply for the position.

“It was basically my last experience that made me want to apply, as I actually encouraged the board to find a different interim last time,” said Ward. “As they struggled to find someone I told them I would step in and do it. I felt I did a good job and had a lot of positive feedback. Looking at what the college needs makes me feel I can fill that role very well and move the college forward.”

He said the college has the resources internally and their external support from the community overall is well positioned.

The two times he served as interim president for a total of 18 months also convinced him the time was right to apply for the president position.

“If I didn’t have those opportunities I wouldn’t have applied,” said Ward. “This isn’t about me, it’s about the college. My feelings were I would only apply if I could move the college along and it wasn’t to just get a promotion. I think those two times as interim gave me the confidence that I can move the college forward and meet the challenges we have at West Shore.”

Ward also comes in with the perspective of knowing the staff, faculty, board of trustees, college focus and many citizens from the district that he garnered over the past eight years. He said that allowed him from day one as president to have an edge on someone who came in new to the area.

“Certainly it gives me the chance to hit the ground running and moving on those opportunities,” he said. “I think that would have been one of the disadvantages the college would have faced going outside because then you also have the person getting to know the college, the community and possibly the whole dynamics of the Michigan education system.”

Ward said his former position also brings something to the table.

“It gives me the opportunity to know how we can leverage our financial resources and take advantage of those to move the college forward,” he said. “It would be a learning curve for someone coming in and even a longer one if they are not coming from that financial background and perspective.”

The college currently has two vice president positions open that Ward must attend to filling. There was a vacancy in the vice president of academics and student services since Lisa Stich resigned from that position on April 7, 2016, and the vice president of administrative services position he held.

“I believe the vice president of academics and student services is vital as we have suffered somewhat as a college by not having that filled for more than a year and a half,” he said. “As people filled that void that takes attention from all the other work those individuals should be doing.”

He said that position is crucial to be filled, but his former position is not so urgent because he has the staff in place with his oversight to see that area gets covered at the present time.

Other challenges he sees coming down the road are

“The two biggest ones we have to look at are our enrollment and funding,” he said. “Those two sort of come hand-in-hand and we need to keep work on and keep supporting.”

Ward said that dual enrollment with the area K-12 school districts will also play a key role at the college.

“During my first interim as president I pushed that heavily and I think we have seen a lot of growth in that area,” he said. “School districts are seeing the benefit of it and we are trying to make it a win-win for all parties. We are trying to look at how we can get more credits for students and how does that save parents money and how can we make sure it is not taking resources away from our school districts (who have to pay the tuition).”

Ward said they are looking at other educational opportunities they are pursuing.

“We are actively looking at opportunities in the outlying areas,” said Ward. “We are also working with the Wexford-Missaukee ISD about offering some coursework over there for their program. With Brethren and Bear Lake sending their students over there we are looking at ways we might offer them some opportunities.”

He said it also includes working with chamber of commerces as well in offering job training opportunities in other areas beyond the campus.

“To meet some of those challenges we need to collaborate better, whether it is workforce, our support agencies like the chambers and K-12 districts as everyone is struggling with resources, so the more we can partner the better,” he said. “I think partnerships like we have with the West Shore ESD is a good example and many kids from Manistee take (vocational education) classes out here.”

Ward said he looks forward to all the challenges and moving the college forward in a positive manner.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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