The good news for Cowley College is that things are really busy on many fronts for them as they get set for their August 14th opening of their new campus in Sumner County.  The ribbon-cutting for Cowley College’s Sumner Campus Technology and Innovation Center will take place August 9 at 2 p.m.
Along with the opening of the Sumner Campus Technology and Innovation Center, the Short General Education Center will open in the fall of 2019.
Cowley College will serve as a sponsor for Wellington Heat baseball games on June 3, June 27, and July 11. The College will also serve as the premier sponsor of the 2018 Kansas Wheat Festival July 11-15 in Wellington.
The first Cowley College Sumner Campus Parent/Student Information Night will be held Monday, June 25 from 4:30-6 p.m. at Conway Springs High School.
The next Sumner Campus Parent/Information Night will be held Wednesday, June 27 from 6-8 p.m. at Wellington High School, and the final event will take place Wednesday, August 1 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Oxford High School.
Cowley College admissions representatives and Sumner Campus instructors (agriculture, computer science, technical and manufacturing programs) will be on hand to answer questions at the Parent/Information Night events.
The bad news is that some questions have been raised in some circles about how this campus has been handled.  Some have expressed concerns about the amount of money the college spent to hire a furniture consultant for their new buildings.  Dr. Gloria Walker, Vice President of Finance and Administration, responded to those complaints by saying, “Yes, it is normal in new construction to have a furniture consultant, and often the services falls under the architectural services as a sub-contractor at an additional cost. Furniture consultants actually design the furniture needs, and do the furniture architectural services. In this project the furniture consultant not only designed and performed the furniture architect piece: identify all the furniture needs and furniture layout, but also provided the procurement services part since the college does not have a procurement services department to handle that volume of bid/quotes, etc.
In the past when the college had a procurement department, he also contracted out purchasing services due to volume, etc.; i.e., he outsourced the procurement services. What the college is doing with the Sumner Campus is no different than what it did with the new construction of the other buildings of the Ark City campus.
The college did a Request for Information then Request for Participation to solicit all vendors interested in the furniture phase of the construction and how they wanted to participate. Once the college got that information, the board approved all the furniture vendors in November 2017. Subsequent, each piece of furniture was solicited for bid/quoted to ensure the college got best value and prices. Additionally, furniture consultants can get bigger discounts than furniture dealers because furniture consultants have direct access to manufacturers, and they normally buy more furniture directly from manufacturers (cuts out the middle-man mark-up) than small furniture vendors.”
Finally, according to the report from the Kansas Board of Regents, came word that Cowley College enrollment has been steadily dropping for the past five years, suffering the steepest decline of any junior college in the state.  To be fair, only two other community colleges in the state saw an increase during that same time period.  
Cowley also ranks low in addition to enrollment trends. Graduation rates, student success and spending on instruction also lag behind most schools, according to the report.
Cowley ranks toward the bottom in graduation rates in the Board of Regents’ report.
The graduation rate for first-time, full-time freshmen was 21.2 percent for the 2013 cohort of students, the latest figures provided.
That put Cowley 14 out of 19 among all Kansas community colleges.
The retention rate for first-time students — those who entered in the fall of 2015 and were still there fall of 2016 — ranks seventh from the bottom.
Cowley does somewhat better when it comes to issuing degrees and certificates, with an award-to-student ratio that falls in the middle of the pack.
The report can be found online at www. kansasregents.org.
When asked to comment on this report, Rama Peroo, Cowley College said the college had no comment, but wanted to add that “in regards to current enrollment numbers at the Sumner Campus, “we are currently enrolling students weekly, and as of to date, we have students represented in all programs being offered.”
On Friday afternoon, Rama Peroo responded with more news on the fall enrollment with this press release.  
One year into her position as executive director of enrollment management, Kristi Shaw and her team of 21 employees has enrollment at Cowley College soaring.
“The college has seen a tremendous increase in enrollment in the past year. As of May 31, 2018, fall enrollment at Cowley College stands at 1,215 compared to 1,047 on the same date a year ago. Full time equivalency for the fall is 976.4 compared to 642.9 at this time last year, while students are enrolled in 5,000 more credit hours (14646 compared to 9,644).
“Having been in this position for one year now, I feel the word is starting to get out about how great Cowley is whether it be academically or socially,” Shaw said. “Students at Cowley are telling other students how great their experience at Cowley has been.”
Madison Law, a sophomore pre-veterinary medicine student at Cowley College, is an example of a student that the Cowley personnel saw as a person and not just a number as Law struggled academically in her first semester at the school and as a result lost her financial aid.
“I reached out to Kristi (Shaw) and Stefani (Jones) and they stepped up and made a plan to get me back on the right track,” Law said. “I was ready to throw in the towel on my education. If it was not for them I would have likely dropped out.”
Law, who graduated from Winfield High School in 2016, is now excelling in her academics and enjoying her experience at Cowley.
“Cowley has helped me a lot,” Law said. “I would advise other students to look into going to school at Cowley and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.”
Shaw smiles when speaking of Law and says students like Madison are one of the many reasons she loves doing what she does at Cowley.
“I look forward to watching Madison be successful and get to do something she loves, which is working with animals. She is definitely a success story.”