Get involved with NWC’s future before it’s too late

Submitted by Karl Bear
Posted 3/5/20

To all concerned constituents:

I am writing this letter not as a person who dislikes anyone or holds any personal grudges, but as a concerned citizen who loves Northwest College and what it brings …

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Get involved with NWC’s future before it’s too late


To all concerned constituents:

I am writing this letter not as a person who dislikes anyone or holds any personal grudges, but as a concerned citizen who loves Northwest College and what it brings to this community. Thus said, I am going to ask a series of questions to get you to think, hopefully investigate on your own, and prompt you to get involved before it is too late (write letters, attend board meetings, ask NWC personnel how you can support them). Note also, that all the facts I am listing can be found in public.

Did you know that …

  • The current enrollment at NWC is what it was back in 1979? Did you know that it has dropped from its enrollment of 2,198 in 2009 to, in the fall of 2019, 1,440 (-758 students)? That is a drop of 34.5% — a 40-year low.
  • If Cody High School (approximately 600) lost the full-time enrollment that NWC has lost over the past 10 years (655), that it would be empty?
  • Many of our “sister” colleges’ enrollment increased in 2019? MSU-Billings (+2.3%), MSU-Northern, MSU-Bozeman, Gallatin College two-year program (+12%), NWCC — Sheridan/Gillette (+7%), Miles City Community College (+6.5%), Dawson (+6%); University of Wyoming (largest freshman class for the last two years)?
  • Both Billings and Bozeman have added new high schools because the others were overcrowded? Bozeman’s new high school is the largest in the state.
  • In the 1990s, the scholarships available to students were over $300,000? Now over $6 million in grants and scholarships according to the NWC website.
  • When they built the Yellowstone Building in 2012 (1,973 enrollment) to Fall 2019 (1,440 enrollment) dropped off 27%. What if they build a new $20 million dollar student union building and the enrollment does not increase? Who pays the bills then? What if more stores and restaurants shutter because of less students? Why pay millions to tear down a building and instead put that money into renovating it? Did you also know that they want to rename it from the DeWitt Student Center to Trapper Center? John DeWitt was one of the biggest advocates of NWC.
  • Blaming unemployment trends for the decline is a misnomer? When I worked for Wyoming Workforce Services in Powell and Cody from 2014-17, the Bakken field let thousands of employees go. We had lines of people coming into the office for any work. Still the enrollment declined. Other trends also support this fact.
  • I have heard that the NWC faculty has been told they cannot talk to the Board of Trustees as a faculty member? I have also heard that they are also trying to take away the faculty voice at the Board of Trustees meetings?
  • The support staff at NWC is so depleted that the faculty is having to empty their own trash and vacuum their own offices? Not the support staff’s fault — they are just spread too thin and write notes to the faculty saying they are sorry, but they will not be able to get to their building. Who is going to take care of a new building?
  • Since they shuttered the NWC Journalism program that they have also closed an outlet for the students to voice their concerns? Did you know that the journalism and television program gave such great practical experience in photography (NWC program), graphic design (NWC program), and English (education, journalism, etc. — NWC programs); and it was also an extra-curricular activity? Did you know that in 2010 University of Montana Missoula said that the NWC students were some of the best they had?
  • Students prefer “apartment” style living over dorm living? This is the type of living currently allowed at Trapper Village West. Did you know that the non-traditional students that they are wanting to increase enrollment need affordable family units as well? Did you know that Trapper Village West offered a great place for new faculty to stay until they could find their own homes? Did you know that the former U.S. Air Force Housing was bought by NWC for $1? Did you know that we used to fill all of the campus housing and all of NWC Trapper Village West? How does tearing down buildings and having less capacity equate to a “73% capacity” as stated in the newspaper previously?
  • That Cody Labs asked for three years for a support program to help train people for some of their positions with no program implemented?

If this letter to the editor has prompted you in any way, please get involved now, before it is too late. Attend the Board of Trustees’ public forum at the NWC Center at the Cody Complex on Monday at approximately 5 p.m.


For NWC and the Powell community, 

Karl Bear