Truckee Meadows Community College President Karin Hilgersom received a largely positive review Thursday during the Nevada Board of Regents meeting, but also agreed to obtain the services of a mentor to improve in some areas.
Hilgersom was evaluated on fundamental productivity, institutional well being, management effectiveness, and institutional relations with other agencies.
Examples of her success include creating a diversity and international student center office, being active in philanthropic endeavors that has allowed for an increase in student scholarships, and graduation rates being above average when compared to other community colleges, the evaluation said.
She’s credited for forming partnerships with Renown Health, Tesla, Panasonic, Washoe County School District, and University of Nevada, Reno, among others.
“President Hilgersom is well regarded, both at the college as well as within the community, as an advocate for TMCC,” Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly wrote in a memo to Regents. “Her passion for the college and its students is evident. She is quite visible as the college’s leader and chief advocate.”
Reilly also said the evaluation indicated Hilgersom had work to do when it came to communications, particularly campus morale, conflict resolution, and shared governance. This is where a mentor or coach can help, he said.
“There are recommendations on how to address those issues, particularly around the issue of communication,” Reilly told Regents attending the meeting at TMCC. “(There will be) lots of active listening and making some strides on some of the perceptions on campus on the issue of shared governance. To that end, most recently, the president and her staff, as well as the faculty and Nevada Faculty Association, participated in a 3-day, very-extensive mediation training on the issues of shared governance that I understood went very well and there were some agreed upon metrics and agreed upon ways to move forward.”
Shared governance refers to faculty and staff participating in decision-making processes in regards to educational policies and budget preparation, among other things.
Regent Rick Trachok cited concerns that include Hilgersom’s reported lack of listening, along with expenditure of funds, especially for international travel, and turmoil on campus.
“What I see from the self evaluation and from other conversations is primarily excuses rather than solutions,” Trachok said. “On one hand, it’s being recommended the president receive a substantial raise. On the other hand, it asks the services of a coach be put into place.”
Regent Jason Geddes said turmoil on campus can be expected when a new president has to fill the shoes of a predecessor who held the position for many years. He was referring to former TMCC President Maria Sheehan, who served from 2008 until her retirement in early 2016.
Nevada’s economy also plays a role in various factors at TMCC, Geddes added. A slight drop in enrollment may be related to near-full employment in the region, one section of the evaluation noted.
“I found it a positive that there were some negatives pointed out and that President Hilgersom discussed them with the chancellor and came up with a path on addressing the negatives,” Geddes said. “We’re always trying to make ourselves better and improve ourselves and we all have weaknesses. Being able to accept weaknesses and accept help in addressing those weaknesses while still celebrating our strengths, I find is a very positive thing.”
Regent Allison Stephens agreed.
“I really like the idea of a mentor or coach and it’s something we should be looking at more broadly,” Stephens said. “But again, I concur with vice chairman Geddes that it is important for us to go through with the evaluation process and then offer ways for people to engage in continuous improvement.”
Hilgersom took over as TMCC president in summer 2016, coming from the State University of New York-Sullivan County, where she served as its president. She’s also held leadership posts at Walla Walla (Washington) Community College and Central Oregon Community College.
A committee reviewed Hilgersom’s self evaluation, interviewed her and spoke with campus personnel, students and community members and considered a campus climate survey. It then asked Hilgersom for her feedback.
The 4-member evaluation committee consisted of Precious Hall, TMCC political science professor; Gigi Chisel, TMCC Foundation board chairwoman; Katy Simon Holland, president of the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees; and Brad Woodring, Institutional Advisory Council member.
Regents voted Friday on a 2-year contract extension for Hilgersom. She will earn a $250,000 base salary annually. She also gets an $8,000 annual vehicle allowance and $12,000 yearly housing allowance, along with a $5,000 host account. She had been earning $200,000. Vehicle, housing, and host account benefits from the previous 2 years would remain unchanged.