Board of Trustees Review Fall 2020 Plans

The Northwest State Community College Board of Trustees met in regular session on Friday, June 19 in a virtual meeting, using Zoom technology as the College operates remotely due to COVID-19. As part of the meeting, the Board heard a presentation from the NSCC Cabinet about the College’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and what the “new normal” will look like in fall 2020.


NSCC President Dr. Michael Thomson once again shared his admiration and appreciation for how the team at NSCC joined together in the face of tremendous adversity to quickly pivot from traditional in-class learning to fully-remote learning in one week. “It is a testament to faculty and staff who care for our learners and trust each other. Plans are nice, but it’s the wonderful work of good people that helped our learners complete spring classes,” he said.

Executive Vice President Todd Hernandez noted our phase two operations including plans for summer camps and a blood drive later this summer. Vice President Dan Burklo presented to the board what the fall 2020 term would look like as we return to more face-to-face classes using appropriate safety procedures.

Burklo noted that, “We want to assure all of our learners, faculty and staff that Northwest State is fully prepared and confident to safely offer in person classes and services this fall semester. We have protocols and practices in place to provide a safe environment for all and contingency plans prepared should we start to see any increase in cases.”

Vice President Lana Snider also described the many ways that we are serving learners at this time, including over $300,000 in emergency funding going directly to students. Most of those funds went to help students keep their connection to the College with digital technology and connectivity aids like hot spots.

Vice President Katy McKelvey stressed the importance of team self-care at this time as we all deal with numerous new life stressors. Finally, Jim Drewes described how Custom Training Solutions had little training in April and May, but that companies are now asking for more training, a good sign of economic recovery in the region.

Board Approves FY 20-21 Budget

In other action, the Board approved a $24.1 million operating budget. As Dr. Thomson noted, “While we have uncertainty in our budget, we have taken a conservative approach to this year’s budget. Our promise is to keep the Board updated regularly as we know more.”

Hernandez noted our strong summer 2020 term as the foundation for an enrollment projection of a slight increase for the coming year. He noted that, “The team has worked very hard customizing known best practices to Northwest Ohio.” He also reviewed our expanded partnerships with ODJFS and other organizations that are permitting us to reach those most in need at this time. Trustee Sue Derck spoke passionately encouraging NSCC in expanding access to those who need it the most. 

In other Board action:

  • Approved the promotions of Jennifer Thome to vice president-chief fiscal & administrative officer and Brittany Chamberlain to director-human resources & leadership development
  • Approved the employment of Jamilah Tucker, dean-Arts & Sciences Division; Andrea Mofield, talent management specialist-human resources; Matthew Kibler, training coordinator-JFS workforce opportunities; and Avery Miller, training coordinator-JFS workforce opportunities
  • Approved the 2020-2021 operating budget, set at approximately $24.1 million, about $200,000 more than the FY ’20 operating budget
  • Approved an update to the Non-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment/Sexual Misconduct Policy, which are now combined to provide one comprehensive policy governing protected class discrimination. This policy update complies with new state and federal regulations regarding minors.
  • Approved miscellaneous employment contracts, as well as one resignation

NSCC Produces #OhioLeads Summit

Northwest State Community College made a vital pivot when faced with the changing education landscape due to COVID-19, redirecting its face-to-face classes to virtual (online/distance) classes. The valuable lessons all two-year and four-year educational institutions learned as a result helped shape the new wave of education. NSCC lead faculty for visual communication/graphic design, Mike Vanderpool, sought to engage the education community in Ohio to share ideas and find ways that we can support each other as we move forward to an uncertain fall. Thus, the #OhioLeads Virtual Summit 2020 was born.


The four-day education summit was held via Zoom technology, which became a commonly-used connectivity tool for higher education during the initial COVID-19 pandemic wave. Of the motivation for creating the summit, Vanderpool said, “It was an opportunity for people in education to discuss what went right, what went wrong, and what we might do differently going forward to be better prepared for the next time a challenge like COVID-19 disrupts our traditional models.”


Over 20 colleges and 158 people registered to attend the virtual summit. In total, 16 sessions over a variety of topics were presented, with average per-session attendance ranging between 20 and 55, per Vanderpool. The summit also had an international attendee, with an English and math teacher from Indonesia joining the summit daily.

NSCC hosted the event and organized the content distribution, but there were contributions from Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Zane State College, Rhodes State College and others. The K-12 population was represented as well, with Hilltop and Liberty Center technology directors contributing.


When asked to describe the experience of the NSCC COVID-19 educational pivot to full virtual learning, Vanderpool remarked, “I learned that NSCC did an amazing job with the COVID-19 adjustments. I’m proud to have been a part of what NSCC did because I think what we did, while hard to measure, really can become guidance for how we might all be better able to connect and serve our communities in the future.”


NSCC representatives are currently getting the Summit content available for public viewing, and it will be shared via the College’s social media platforms using the hashtag #OhioLeads.

NSCC Foundation Awards $661,000 in Scholarships

The Northwest State Community College Foundation proudly awarded $661,000 in scholarships to 282 students from the region. The total dollars awarded surpasses last year’s record totals, offering needed financial help to students through the generosity of donors to the NSCC Foundation.

On Thursday, May 28, the College premiered a virtual reception, to celebrate the accomplishments of the students and offer gratitude for the support of local donors.

“COVID-19 may have kept us from meeting in person this year, but the Foundation was determined to put a great celebration together,” said Robbin Wilcox, executive director of development & the NSCC Foundation. “We wanted to make sure our learners knew how proud we are of their amazing accomplishments, and we wanted our generous donors to know how grateful we are for their support. It is through their generosity that these scholarships exist,” Wilcox noted.

Due to COVID-19, the Scholarship Awards Reception was held as a pre-recorded, virtual reception, which premiered May 28 on the College’s official YouTube channel. Elements of the video were filmed at the NSCC Archbold campus, as well as other locations throughout northwest Ohio. The event kicked off with opening remarks by NSCC President Dr. Michael Thomson and NSCC Foundation Board Chair Peter Beck, each providing congratulatory remarks to both students and gratitude to the donors who make the scholarships possible.

Adam Freels, NSCC Foundation board member, provided the donor perspective, noting, “It is truly inspiring to witness the great work of our community to make a difference in the lives of our students, who will then go on to make positive impacts with our local businesses and organizations.”

Ariel Weaks, a 2013 NSCC nursing graduate and nurse at BrightView Toledo Treatment Addiction Center in Maumee, provided the student perspective. Weaks was awarded the NSCC Presidential Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship. With an older brother and sister already in college, this scholarship helped pave the way for Weaks to receive a great college education. The family showed its gratitude by creating the Weaks Family Scholarship, available to residents of Swan Creek Township in Fulton County (or direct descendants of the Plymouth Pilgrims) pursuing a four-year or advanced degree in nursing, medical, accounting or law.

“I am very thankful and grateful for what Northwest State did for me. I am proud to be a Northwest State graduate,” Weaks said.

The NSCC Foundation was established in 1978 to provide support for the students, people and programs of NSCC. For nearly 40 years, the Foundation has remained true to its mission to enhance, expand and sustain Northwest State so that NSCC can continue to fulfill its mission of creating opportunities for transformational learning. The NSCC Foundation works diligently to raise much-needed funds for educational opportunities that directly and indirectly impact students.

“The NSCC Foundation continues to work hard each year to increase funding to support our students through both scholarships and efforts to provide state of the art training equipment,” noted Wilcox.  She added, “The NSCC Foundation is not only giving more scholarship dollars than ever before, they are also helping the College to develop and expand programs that will help both students and our business partners for generations to come.”

Additional information about the NSCC Foundation is available online.

Classroom Learning to Resume for Fall 2020

Face-to-face (classroom) learning will officially return for the fall 2020 semester, along with regularly-scheduled online and hybrid learning format courses. The College will adhere to local, state and federal protocols to ensure the safety of its learners, employees and guests. Processes such as single point of entry, visitor testing, the use of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), and social distancing have been in place since the College went to remote operations in March.

“As a community college with an emphasis on technical instruction, we faced an incredible challenge because of COVID-19,” said NSCC President Dr. Michael Thomson. “Our faculty and staff showed their amazing resilience and innovation, converting all face-to-face classes to remote learning in one week, without sacrificing the quality of the education. Our students were equally amazing, as 95% of spring students successfully completed the requirements of their coursework on time. That figure will jump to 99% once ongoing face-to-face work is completed,” Thomson continued.

Todd Hernandez, NSCC executive vice president, also noted the College’s dedicated work behind the scenes to ensure the school’s financial stability. “In these uncertain times, we want our learners to know that we are working to ensure Northwest State runs strong for generations to come. You can expect the same high-quality education, stay close to home, support the local economies, and save thousands on tuition,” Hernandez said.

The return of face-to-face learning on campus also means all facilities and operations will be fully functional when fall classes begin on August 19. Students coming to campus will be able to sit down with an advisor in the advising center; buy their books at the bookstore; head to the library or success center for study materials and support; get a snack at the NSCC Cafe; and even work out in the fitness center.

“We have already proven our ability to pivot when extreme circumstances arise, so while we are optimistic about returning to face-to-face learning in the fall, we are also prepared to provide a great remote learning opportunity again if necessary,” said Dr. Dan Burklo, NSCC vice president of academics. “The safety of our employees, our learners, and our community guests is a top priority, along with delivering the best-possible education,” Burklo noted.

Adults Can Earn a High School Diploma Through Free Online Program

Northwest State Community College is enrolling students in a free, online program to help adults earn a high school diploma. Limited spots are available for those who are at least 22 years old in Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Van Wert or Williams counties, where nearly 10 percent of adults do not have a high school diploma.

“We never stop looking for ways to make a difference in the lives of people in our community, and people who haven’t yet earned a diploma are a big part of our community,” said Dr. Michael Thomson, president of Northwest State. “The difference in earnings alone is substantial — we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars over a person’s lifetime. We can change that.”

The program has been offered at Northwest State since 2018, and many past graduates are not only first in their families to earn a high school diploma, but have also gone on to become college students, including at Northwest State.

“It’s so heartening to see that,” said Thomson, himself a first-generation college student. “It’s a true testament to the exponential power of educational opportunity.”

To qualify, students need to have completed at least some of the 10th grade, but not have earned a diploma or GED. After enrolling in the program, students will have their high school transcripts evaluated by a re-engagement counselor, who then helps map a course for graduation. At that point, the students are introduced to an academic coach, who will help them stay on pace toward their graduation goal.

“This can be a big challenge,” Thomson said, “but it is not a challenge our students will face alone. If you have a dream, this program offers tremendous support to help you achieve it.”

Find out more and apply online.

Commencement Ceremony Recognizes 270 Graduates

Northwest State Community College celebrated the 2020 graduating class at its 50th Commencement Ceremony on May 9. Due to the effects of COVID-19, the ceremony was presented as a pre-taped video on the College’s official YouTube channel.

The ceremony recognized 270 graduates who completed an associate degree or certificate program with the College during fall, spring or summer term, comprising a total of 280 awards (237 associate degrees and 43 short-term certificates). Three students graduated with associate degrees via College Credit Plus before they officially graduate from high school. Lana Snider, NSCC vice president of enrollment management & student affairs, noted that 87% of the graduating class lives in the six county service area of Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Van Wert and Williams counties.

Dr. Michael Thomson, NSCC president, noted the 50th Commencement in his congratulatory remarks, “Today marks not only an incredible set of educational achievements, it also marks the 50th anniversary of Northwest State Community College’s Commencement. In our wildest dreams, we never thought that the celebration would be done in this way.” Thomson assured students that the College will organize a larger in-person ceremony when it is safe to do so.

Chancellor Randy Gardner of the Ohio Department of Higher Education delivered the keynote address through a recorded video message. Gardner praised Northwest State for its ability to prepare graduates for workforce readiness, noting the College has graduated 3,400 medical professionals. He also noted the 94% passage rate for national nursing exams as a symbol of excellence. “No virus can diminish what this achievement truly means,” Gardner said. The chancellor’s remarks concluded with a heartfelt congratulations to graduates.

As part of the graduate listing at the conclusion of the event, NSCC recognized its 20 Award of Merit recipients. For over 25 years, Northwest State has recognized graduates within the degree programs for their academic achievements.  Award of Merit recipients are chosen by faculty from the respective divisions based on leadership involvement, special talents or abilities in their academic field, and significant contributions to Northwest State.

  • Kaitlin Chylinski, Criminal Justice
  • Fallon Radcliffe, Human Resource Management
  • Julie Eitniear, Paraprofessional
  • Rebecca Addington, Pre-Kindergarten
  • Ruth Baumgartner, Business Management
  • Randal Shaver, Business Management
  • Kristi Phillips, Human Resource Management
  • Kylee Bell, Medical Assisting
  • Laura Moore, LPN to RN
  • Katelyn Smith, Associate of Arts
  • Alexis Woods, Associate of Science
  • Anna Thomas, Graphic Design
  • Lee Waidelich, CAD-CAM
  • Spencer Sunderland, Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Autumn Scher, Computer Science Technology
  • Bradley Sampson, Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Matthew Siegel, Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Justin Westhove, Industrial Technology
  • Elliot Wannemacher, Computer Programming
  • Christian Pena, Network Administration

Virtual Commencement Ceremony: May 9, 2020

This year, we celebrate 147 students receiving 157 degrees and/or certificates. This pre-recorded video ceremony includes remarks from NSCC President Dr. Michael Thomson and feature guest speaker Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. While an in-person ceremony may possibly be scheduled for a later date, we wanted to ensure graduates received recognition this spring.

All graduates will also receive an NSCC care package that includes their cap and gown, diploma cover, a 2020 Graduate yard sign, and other NSCC items to commemorate the event.

NSCC Board Approves Strategic Plan

The Northwest State Community College Board of Trustees met in regular session on Friday, April 24 in a virtual meeting, using Zoom technology as the College operates remotely due to COVID-19. As part of the meeting, the Board approved the College’s 2020-2023 strategic plan. The new plan succeeds the 2016-2020 plan, which is set to expire June 30, 2020.

NSCC President Dr. Michael Thomson noted that the strategic planning committee has done extensive work to develop a new strategic plan, which includes representation from all College governance committees. As part of the process, an environmental scan was completed in the areas of demographics; political and social values; education and technology; and economics and labor markets to inform the creation of a new strategic plan.

Thomson noted, “Because of the strong work of our stakeholders, we have a very solid strategic plan. As we build our tactical plan, we will incorporate the impact of recent events into specific action steps that will serve our community well as we face the ‘new normal’ that lies ahead. NSCC is committed to listening to and serving the 77,000 families in Northwest Ohio to keep our communities strong.”

The next steps in the process are developing teams and activities to create and execute a tactical plan that will help the College realize these five strategic goals, which are represented by foundational pillars.

  • Pillar One: Life Changing Education (high-quality, transformative and safe educational environments)
  • Pillar Two: Learning for All (collaborative partnerships)
  • Pillar Three: Organizational Excellence (for a sustainable and high-performing organization)
  • Pillar Four: Empowered Team (sustained positive culture, fulfilling mission)
  • Pillar Five: Engaged Community (continue to strengthen stakeholder and community relationships)



Dr. Thomson also provided some updates on upcoming scheduled events at the College.

On commencement, Thomson noted, “We will celebrate the accomplishments of our learners on May 9, as scheduled. Instead of gathering personally, we will use the technological tools available to provide our learners with an experience that honors their hard work and achievements. I especially appreciate that ODHE Chancellor Randy Gardner is speaking to us as we celebrate the 50th Commencement anniversary. We would ask the communities to help us celebrate our learner’s accomplishments as you learn more in the days ahead.”

Robbin Wilcox, NSCC executive foundation director, noted the date of the virtual scholarship awards event is not yet determined, adding, “Our community is dedicated to education and it is demonstrated through their continuous outpouring of financial support. A BIG thanks to our area businesses, donors, alumni, faculty and staff.” Wilcox confirmed that over $650,000 in scholarship dollars are set to be awarded to approximately 300 students during the 2020 NSCC event.


Todd Hernandez, executive vice president at NSCC, shared an update with the Board regarding enrollment and accreditation. Hernandez said, “The College faculty, staff, and administration has performed wonderfully in regards to supporting our learners with advising, technology and flexibility during this crisis. In fact, the vast majority of our learners will complete classes this term and remain on their academic journey. The College is still projecting an enrollment increase this academic year.”

Hernandez also mentioned that the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Northwest State’s accrediting body, was scheduled to perform a comprehensive review as part of the College’s 10-year cycle in October 2020. Due to the College’s shifting mission in support of the public health crisis, the HLC approved a request to postpone the visit to February 2021.

In other Board action:

  • Approved the promotion of Jennifer Thome to interim chief fiscal and administrative officer
  • Approved the employment of Madline Fagan, assistant-financial aid; and Isaac Benner, resource counselor-financial aid
  • Approved the application process for NSCC to join the “Achieving the Dream” Network through the College’s Graduation Pathways to Success Initiative, using funding by the College’s Title III Strengthening Institutions Program Grant
  • Approved miscellaneous employment contracts, as well as three resignations and one termination of employment