Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs will host trainings and listening sessions in the coming months, in response to a study by a consultant that found dissatisfaction among employee groups.
The Arbinger Institute found that employees are frustrated with communication and leadership at the school. Focus groups of about 80 employees spoke to Arbinger, and some reported feeling disconnected from decisions that affect their jobs, and fear retaliation.
College President Karla Leach says she hired the consulting firm to lead a focus group after hearing concerns about communication from faculty and staff. She says she was saddened by the results. Employees will have the opportunity to express their concerns at upcoming town hall meetings with Leach and other college leaders.
“I think we do need to better understand that, and of course that is dependent on people taking the risk of telling us what they’re thinking,” Leach said. “I don’t see that as being any risk at all, but they may perceive that as being a risk.”
According to the firm’s report, many of the concerns were expressed by long-term employees who said they’d become more frustrated in recent years.
Leach says some of this could be about the ways community colleges, broadly, are changing.
“Those of us that are baby boomers have seen the most drastic change in community college education over the years,” Leach said, “and it is a lot different than what it was in the 70s and the 80s. I mean, it’s undeniable: the difference in what we do; the amount of regulation we’re under; the amount of scrutiny, accountability; the loss of funding.”
Most community colleges participate in third-party surveys like this one, which cost about $6500. The first town hall meeting to discuss the study’s results, as well as two Arbinger trainings will be held before the end of the semester.