CWC Trustee Pedersen resigns unexpectedly; process to fill the seat has begun

Trustee Judy Pedersen's seat sat vacant following her resignation from the CWC Board of Trustees last night. (Joshua Scheer photo)

Trustee Judy Pedersen’s seat sat vacant following her resignation from the CWC Board of Trustees last night. (Joshua Scheer photo)

By Joshua Scheer, reporter,

(Riverton, Wyo.) – In what Central Wyoming College President Jo Anne McFarland later called an “unexpected” moment, college Trustee Judy Pedersen announced her resignation effective immediately at the start of last night’s board meeting.

“I have an apology to make to the 4,500 people who voted for me,” Pedersen began in a brief statement, adding that they voted for her because they liked the way she did business. “However, I feel my time on the board has come to the end. I feel this board would be better served with … someone other than me.”

She then stated she was resigning as of that moment, got up from the board table, put on her coat and left the room.

Last night’s meeting was preceded by an executive session to address the board code of conduct and personnel issues, including administrative contracts.

In November 2012 following Pedersen’s re-election, she allegedly told a local newspaper, “I don’t really look forward to another four years of being the only person that really looks at the issues.”

Most trustees during the November meeting raised concerns about the comments. Pedersen refused to speak publicly on the issue at the time, saying she had been advised by legal council not speak.

The CWC board’s code of conduct states, “Never criticize the College President, CWC staff, or board members in public.”

Discussion on the issue was tabled at the December meeting and pushed to the January meeting. Pedersen was not in attendance in December.

Last night prior to Pedersen’s announcement, Board Chair Charlie Krebs read a written statement on the code of conduct issue.

“The board discussed the election night comments attributed to Judy Pedersen,” Krebs said of the executive session. “We also now recognize the comments may have been taken out of context and no offense was intended.”

Krebs went on to say it was “time to move forward” and focus on issues facing the college. It was after his remarks that Pedersen asked to make a statement.

After she left the room, the board added action items to address the newly created vacancy.

“The resignation was unexpected,” McFarland said. Krebs nodded in agreement.

Trustee Heather Christensen was named to the Secretary position previously held by Pedersen. Christensen will also serve for one meeting as a voting delegate at the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees.

Much discussion surrounded how to fill the board vacancy and on what time frame. Attorney Frank Watkins said per the board’s policy the seat needed to be filled within 30 days of it becoming vacant. CWC’s next board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 20, more than 30 days from last night. Ultimately it was decided by unanimous vote to hold a special meeting via teleconference at 6 p.m. on Jan. 23 to formally accept Pedersen’s resignation.

McFarland believed the college would have enough time to advertise for and fill the position between the two regular board meetings. Trustee Roger Gose reminded the board that there were other “very worthy candidates” who had challenged Pedersen in the November election. Pedersen represented Subdistrict 2, which represents portions of Riverton and Shoshoni.

Exact details on the application and interview process were not discussed. As they become available, will publish the information.

Other items from last night’s meeting:

-Contracts with Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Services Jason Wood and Executive Vice President for Administrative Services Ron Granger were extended to June 30, 2015. Salary details will be determined in April during budget discussions.

-Granger told the board that the veneer on the health and science center could be done by the end of the month. Painting has begun on the interior of the first floor and drywall is going up on the second floor. Glass in the windows will be installed next week. Granger said he hoped to be able to give the board a tour of the progress by April.

-Brief discussion on the State Legislative Session were had. McFarland said the formal budget from the Joint Appropriations Committee had not yet ben released. Bills regarding free remedial courses and a state-run GED-like program were also talked about.

-The board watched an active shooter video produced by the Department of Homeland Security to help address how citizens in those situations should act. The film has been shown to several groups around campus.