August Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 10, Issue 2                                                                      August 2020

Inside this issue


Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation


Dennis Harden
 Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education


Paula Nissen
Acting Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges


NIACC awarded career academy competitive grant

Career Academy Incentive Fund

Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education announced that North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City won a $1 million competitive grant through the Career Academy Incentive Fund to prepare more high school students for success in college, postsecondary training and the workforce.

The proposal will expand access to career academy programs in some of the region’s most in-demand fields through a new regional center in Forest City. Career academies are programs of study in which students benefit from business and industry partnerships, earn high school and college credit, and gain technical and traditional academic skills offered through career and technical education (CTE) programs.

Contact Eric St Clair at or 515-326-0274 with comments or questions.

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Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund connectivity grants announced


Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education announced that $26.2 million is now available to districts, nonpublic schools, and colleges and universities primarily to increase internet connectivity for students for the 2020-21 school year.

Using the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, authorized under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, $6.9 million will be earmarked for public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities.

The Department is currently developing a process to distribute the $6.9 million of the GEER fund reserved for colleges and universities. This process is expected to be in place by the end of August, with an announcement inviting applications shortly after.  

Questions regarding GEER funds for colleges and universities may be directed to Eric St.Clair at or Kelly Friesleben at

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Guidance issued on proficiency for concurrent enrollment programs


New guidance released by the Iowa Department of Education strongly encourages community colleges and school districts to collaboratively establish alternative measures of proficiency for concurrent enrollment programs. 

Per statute, students must demonstrate proficiency on the statewide assessment in order to access concurrent enrollment and/or Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO).

However, primarily due to disruptions to statewide testing in the spring of 2020, many students will not have recent test scores available in the required fields of English language arts, mathematics, and science. It is anticipated that the lack of recent test scores will impede access to these opportunities to students who would otherwise be successful.

In response, the Department encourages a school district and postsecondary institution to establish mutually agreed upon alternative measures of proficiency for concurrent enrollment courses, utilizing the authority granted to institutions to establish such measures under Iowa Code. These measures should allow the student to demonstrate mastery of appropriate content knowledge and align to measures of college readiness used by the postsecondary institution during the admissions and placement process.

Contact Eric St Clair at or 515-326-0274 with comments or questions.

Iowa community colleges create new work-based learning courses

Iowa Work Based Learning

Over the past year, Iowa community colleges have worked together to put a new system of common work-based learning (WBL) courses into place within the college curriculum. This set of courses is in addition to the program internships and clinicals that students receive within their specific career and technical (CTE) programs of study.

The new courses all utilize the WBL prefix and include standardized content ranging from career awareness to career training.  Career awareness courses include the universal courses: WBL100 Exploring Careers and WBL110 Employability Skills. Career training courses include WBL140 Workplace Project Based Learning; WBL 200 Practicum/Field Experience; and WBL 300 Internship.  Each of these universal courses is also available in nine discipline-focused courses.  The focus within the discipline courses is to share more specific information to students interested in particular career areas such as health sciences, human services, agriculture, or information solutions.

Since 2019, 152 courses have been adopted across the colleges and made available for student enrollments starting in 2020-21.  The colleges are reviewing transfer and CTE programs where the WBL courses would make a good curricular fit.  A communication committee is meeting quarterly to share information about methods of WBL curriculum integration and this group has helped complete the Iowa Community College Work-based Learning Implementation Guide that can be accessed on the Iowa Department of Education website here.  

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant at or 515-725-2247, for more information. 

Temporary faculty overload waiver in place for 2020-21


On Friday, July 17th, in light of the ongoing worldwide pandemic, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the state's Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation included an action to temporarily waive the state code overload maximum above a teacher's usual maximum teaching load. 

Under current Iowa code, a full-time college instructor with assigned overload has a semester maximum of 22 credits hours of teaching. Those faculty may now teach more than 22 hours of load while the proclamation is in effect for the 2020-21 academic year.

Also under code, a career and technical instructor who is contracted via contact hour load has a maximum of 3 overload beyond a regular load maximum of 30 student contact hours per week. Those faculty may now teach beyond 33 contact hours a week for the duration of the proclamation.  The proclamation leaves in place the requirement that the instructor and the college must agree in writing to any overload instruction. As colleges work to cover class offerings with various modes of teaching flexibility, be that online, hybrid, hyflex or face-to-face, this waiver will allow additional course sections to be taught and will support the promotion of safety for all class participants. The exact text of the proclamation is shared below.

Pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(6) and Iowa Code § 135.144(3), and in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, I temporarily suspend the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code § 260C.48(2) and Iowa Admin. Code rule 281-24.5(2), providing a maximum teaching load for community college instructors, but only to the extent that a community college administration assigning an instructor a teaching load above the maximum credit load maintains written documentation that the instructor and community college administration mutually consented to the additional assignments.  

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant at or 515-725-2247, for more information.   

Guided pathways work continues in a virtual format


Work continued on the guided pathways initiative throughout the month of July.  The guided pathways work group met through a series of webinars coordinated by HCM Strategists. During these webinars, the group heard from Dr. Davis Jenkins and Hana Lahr from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) about program mapping best practices and lessons learned; from John Fink at CCRC and Erika Fenik at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) on examining equity with guided pathways and data reporting; and Dr. Joe Schaffer, President of LCCC on data and institutional buy-in for guided pathways.

The work group plans to continue its work into the fall semester with additional webinars during the month of October and November and continued work creating program maps for identified pathway programs.  In addition, the Iowa Community College Presidents will meet with Dr. Joe Schaffer from LCCC in September to hear about lessons learned during that college's guided pathways implementation process.  

Please contact Chris Russell at or 515-725-2247 or Kelly Friesleben at or 515-868-2847 for any questions or more information.  

Iowa community colleges join consortium for educational resources

OEN Border

Earlier this year, the Iowa community colleges joined with 40 other Iowa institutions of higher education in an Open Textbook Network (OTN) consortium.  The organization has changed their name to the Open Education Network (OEN)

OEN, which has 120 members encompassing over 1,100 campuses, provides institutions access to a repository of training materials and national experts to assist in identifying high quality, free alternatives to traditional textbooks. The partnership will also provide access to future training and faculty development opportunities to expand the use of open education resources in Iowa. The training date for colleges to participate is scheduled for October 13 at 11 am.

OEN also supports the Open Textbook Library, a searchable online catalog of textbooks. These books can be downloaded at no cost, or printed at low cost. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions, or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization. The library of more than 700 textbooks can be adapted to best meet the needs of individual courses, and additional books are being added regularly

This partnership is due in great part to the efforts of the Iowa Open Educational Resources Action Team (Iowa OER). Formed in 2018, Iowa OER works to support affordability of higher education for students across the state of Iowa and has goals to have training and OER quality resources available to every college in Iowa. Iowa OER currently has higher education membership from Iowa’s Regent universities, community colleges, and private colleges, in addition to the Iowa Department of Education, and other education partners. 

Community colleges are doing a better job of tracking OER use in their institutions. A spring survey found that 4,193 students at community colleges in Fall 2019 were in courses using OER. This number of students indicates a potential savings of $485,651 in textbook costs in Fall 2019 at Iowa’s community colleges from the use of OER. This savings number is calculated by multiplying the number of students by $116.94, an approximate average textbook cost published by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) in 2018

For more information about Iowa OER visit the state’s OER website: or please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant at or 515-725-2247, for more information. 

Divison takes leadership of new industry recognized apprenticeship program (IRAP)


The Department’s Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation has applied to play a lead role in the approval, oversight, and expansion of the US Department of Labor’s new Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP) in Iowa. This new type of apprenticeship is meant to complement the already successful Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) that has been in existence since the 1930’s in the US.

Employers will now have another option available to implement an earn-and-learn model for students and job seekers interested in pursuing a career, but do not have the time or resources to go back to school full-time. This new effort will also support the Future Ready Iowa initiative’s goal of 70% of Iowa’s workforce attaining education and training beyond high school by the year 2025.

The Department will learn in September if they have been approved for the role of Standards Recognition Entity (SRE) in Iowa. The primary industry of focus for this first application was identified as Information Technology. Specific occupations involving software development, network or database administration, web development, help desk support, and cybersecurity roles will be planned and developed in coordination with Iowa employers, community colleges, and other public and private support partners.

More information about this new program and the role the Department intends to play as an SRE can be found at Contact Joe Collins at for specific questions and plans relating to this exciting new opportunity in Iowa.

New tech careers highlighted in updated IT career pathway


In 2017, the Department provided basic, visually appealing career pathway documentation covering some of Iowa’s growing IT career opportunities. These materials were recently updated and expanded in July 2020 to further showcase new and exciting tech careers across a broader range of industries in Iowa. This project, in support of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, would not be possible without the support of the Technology Association of Iowa (TAI), the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), and the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

A brief employer survey was launched in February, a series of five virtual employer round tables were held in April, and a closing employer survey was offered in May to gather direct input from the many different types of industries and employers with a growing need for workers with advanced skills in computer science, information technology, and related products or services in Iowa. 

A new industry career pathways project is now being planned for the Business and Financial Services industry, which should be wrapped up by December 2020. Visit the Sector Partnerships website, or contact for additional information regarding these or future projects. 

New web management information system (WebMIS) launched July 6, 2020


For years, the Community College Management Information System (CC MIS) has been receiving data from colleges as a set of data files.  These were sent either via secure email attachments, or secure file transfer protocol servers. While assuring data transfer security, these data transfer arrangements continuously missed the critical components of data cleaning and validation. Specialists in both the Division and the Department had to apply validation either before or after data submission, which created unneeded delays and inconsistencies.  The Department of Education partnered with Iowa Workforce Development and received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in order to mitigate these problems.

The grant allowed the Departments to build a web-based automated secure system for data submission, cleaning, validation, and production of data confirmation reports.  All of these processes can be conducted in real time, with pin-pointed error reports provided by the system "on-the-fly". The system was named in order to  reflect its essence: WebMIS. The development of WebMIS took close to two years and was launched into active production on July 6, 2020.

The final version of WebMIS is a data submission, validation and approval system.  It was built to allow for both annual and seasonal data-secure exchanges between Iowa community colleges and the Iowa Department of Education. The system will provide real-time feedback, reporting, sophisticated user-management modules and workflow-related automatic notifications.  In addition to data the submission core, WebMIS contains a comprehensive live Non-Credit Course and Program Catalog (NCPGM) maintained entirely by colleges. It provides Iowa colleges with the opportunity to have a complete picture of offered non-credit content, and thus an ability to learn from other colleges and share best practices. WebMIS is also being used as a validation database for submitted non-credit enrollment. The system contains live dashboards to monitor data submission progress for any college system user, as well as built-in data submission summaries, both current and historical. It also includes an independent Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) module, configurable for exchanges of sensitive data files among any named internal or external users.

Contact Vladimir Bassis, Education Program Consultant, at with comments or questions.

Summer college credit program enrollment grows in second year


A total of 1,270 students enrolled in community college career and technical education (CTE) courses through the Summer College Credit Program (SCCP) in the academic year 2019-20, according to a fact sheet released by the Iowa Department of Education. This represents a 66 percent increase from the previous summer.

As with last year, all 15 of Iowa’s community colleges participated in the program, providing access to coursework within 40 programs aligned to high-demand CTE fields. The top two CTE fields include healthcare and advanced manufacturing.

Authorized in 2018 as part of the Future Ready Iowa Act and supported by a $600,000 state appropriation, the SCCP expands student access to college-level coursework during the summer and promotes participation in high-quality CTE programs that align to state and regional in-demand occupations. This work supports Iowa’s statewide CTE improvement efforts and is in line with the Future Ready Iowa goal that calls for 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce to have education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.

Contact Eric St Clair at or 515-326-0274 with comments or questions.

Tuition and fees report now available

FY21 TF Report

The Department recently released the fiscal year 2021 Tuition and Fees Report, which provides information about the tuition and fees charged at each of Iowa's 15 community colleges. This report also provides trends in tuition and fees among Iowa’s community colleges, sources of general operating revenue, and comparisons among states and institutions.

According to the report, average in-state tuition for students attending Iowa’s community colleges is $179.38 per credit hour, a 3.3 percent increase from last year, and average mandatory fees are $15.10per credit hour, up 1.2 percent from last year. Therefore, the average total in-state cost of enrollment (tuition plus fees) is $194.48 per credit hour, which represents a 3.1 percent increase from last year.

Contact Dan Li, Education Program Consultant, at 515-281-3503, or with comments or questions.

Division welcomes new education program consultant

Friesleben Head Shot

The Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation is pleased to welcome Dr. Kelly Friesleben to the Bureau of Community Colleges. She started her new role as education program consultant on June 29th.

Prior to joining the division, Friesleben served as Associate Registrar for Transfer Pathways and Student Success at Iowa State University.  In that role, she provided leadership for articulation efforts and served on the Liaison Advisory Committee for Transfer Students, Reverse Credit Transfer Advisory Committee, Transfer Major Steering Committee as well as many institution level efforts to improve transfer student success.  She previously served as Director of the Grand View University Johnston Campus at Camp Dodge and Director of Student Services at Saint Mary's University.  Kelly has a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Iowa State University. 

Within the division, Friesleben will be responsible for leading community college student success efforts.

Division welcomes new executive officer

Jepsen Head Shot 2

The Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation is pleased to announce Alison Jepsen will join the division on Tuesday, September 1 as executive officer. 

Prior to joining the division, Alison served as an educational specialist with the Office of the State Court Administrator within the Colorado Department of Justice, where she administered education programs, organized and led committees, and coordinated events.  She previously served as an editor managing publications from conception to completion, a community college writing and rhetoric instructor, and in marketing.  Alison has a master's degree in English and Education from the University of Colorado - Boulder and a bachelor's degree in English from Simpson College with minors in Spanish and Journalism. 

Within the division, she will be responsible for project management, supporting the Community College Council, and serving as assistant to the division administrator.

The Bureau of Career and Technical Education announces staff updates


The Bureau of Career and Technical Education is pleased to announce the following staff changes:

Katy Blatnick-Gagne has transitioned to Education Program Consultant for Family Consumer Sciences and Human Services effective July 1, 2020.  Katy replaces Lisa Stange who retired from the Department of Education in June.  

Jane Bradley, Administrative Consultant, will oversee Health Sciences programs.

Kristy Volesky, Education Program Consultant for Work-Based Learning and Business, Marketing and Information Solutions, will oversee work-based learning programs on a full-time basis as the Bureau is seeking an Education Consultant for Business, Marketing and Information Solutions.  Until the new consultant is onboard, please continue to contact Kristy for both Work-Based Learning and Business, Marketing and Information Solutions.

Career opportunities within the division

join our team

We are seeking talented individuals who are passionate about excellence in education to fill several positions over the next few months within the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation.

We don't just talk about inclusion; it's how we do business. Our team is globally diverse and we seek candidates whose differences will challenge our ideas, spur innovation and ultimately help build stronger programs serving the people of Iowa.

The division is in the process of reviewing and interviewing applicants for the community college finance consultant, community college communications consultant, community college bureau chief, career and technical student organizations consultant, career and technical business/IT consultant, and a career academies/senior year plus consultant. Decisions on these positions will be made in the coming weeks.

To learn more about opportunities within the division, please contact Jeremy Varner, Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation, at, or at 515-281-8260.