EWC Announces Three Finalists for President

Mar 21, 2022 | Featured, Regional News

Torrington, Wyo. (RELEASE from EWC) March 21, 2022 — The Board of Trustees at Eastern Wyoming College has announced that the Presidential Search committee has selected three finalists. Finalists will be invited to campus for in-person interviews and open forums.

The three finalists are Dr. Randy Smith, Seminole, OK, Dr. James Taylor, Vernal, UT, and Dr. Michelle Schutt, Kimberly, ID. Open forums will be held as follows:

Dr. Smith           
March 28th, 1:30-2:45 pm, EWC Fine Arts Auditorium, Torrington Campus
March 29th, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, Douglas Campus

Dr. Taylor
March 31st, 1:30 – 2:45 pm, EWC Fine Arts Auditorium, Torrington Campus
April 1st, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, Douglas Campus

Dr. Schutt            
April 4th, 1:30 – 2:45 pm, EWC Fine Arts Auditorium, Torrington Campus
April 5th, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, Douglas Campus

The forums are free and open to the public and input from these events will be solicited. All are welcome to attend.

Biographical information on each of the finalists can be found below.

Dr. Randy Smith is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma. He has been involved in higher education for over twenty-five years. He currently serves as the Director of Program Development / Emergency Management and special advisor to the Chief for the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. He served as the president of the largest organization of rural colleges in the United States including policy work in DC and countless on the ground trainings and consulting for rural colleges. He has years of experience as a college president and as a chief academic officer and VP of student services and as a faculty member. Randy is a regular presenter at state and national conferences on the topics of leadership in higher education and student recruitment and retention at rural colleges, and workforce and economic development in rural communities. He has testified in front of committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate as an expert on issues regarding rural higher education. He was an invited participant to the White House Summit on Community Colleges. He served as a member of the 21st Century Community College Commission that was charged with developing a long-term strategic plan for community colleges nationally. He also facilitated the first ever Memorandum of Understanding between a higher education organization and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He facilitated the inclusion of rural community, technical and tribal colleges in the Federal Farm Bill, the first-time rural colleges have been specifically included in federal legislation. Randy received a three-year appointment to the America’s College Promise Advisory Board. His true passion is helping colleges retain students to completion and he has developed training programs to assist colleges in all aspects of enrollment management. This includes a special program assisting colleges with Native American Male student retention. Randy also developed a Board Training Program entitled Roles and Responsibilities for Boards of Trustees at Rural Colleges and he teaches this program across the Nation.
Randy enjoys serving in the community and has held several positions including board chairman for a rural county hospital district, volunteer fire fighter and paramedic, member of a municipal police commission, and board member for a Regional Chapter of the American Red Cross. He is currently a certified law enforcement officer and has been for more than 14 years. He has provided service as a police officer to his rural community for many years. He served as a judge for the Miss Rodeo America Pageant in Las Vegas and he coaches rodeo queens and contestants from across the Nation. Daughter Emily was a Miss Rodeo Oklahoma State Titleholder.
Randy holds a B.A. in Political Science, an M.S. in Emergency Health Services Administration, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership. He also completed the Educators’ Leadership Academy at the University of Central Oklahoma. He is a recipient of the USDA Lincoln Honor Award, (for his work with rural colleges and communities) the highest award presented by the US Department of Agriculture.
Randy and Dora have horses and cattle near Seminole, Oklahoma. Daughter Emily is a student athlete at Northwestern Oklahoma State University (sophomore) where she is majoring in music education. Emily is an accomplished Track athlete and is a member of the NWOSU Track and Cross-Country Teams. Randy enjoys rodeo, ranching, working with horses, playing and coaching basketball, powerlifting, golf, community service as a law enforcement officer, and all outdoor activities. His favorite activity is simply being outdoors on his horse.

Dr. James Y. Taylor is the Chief Executive and Associate Vice President of Utah State University in Eastern Utah and leads two campuses and multiple centers in the Uintah Basin. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. His academic and professional passions include sustainable rural and mountain communities, relationships that bind people and place, and effective and authentic leadership. His publications address natural resources, authentic and sustainable leadership, and effective mentoring and student support. He has a Bachelor’s degree in biogeography from the University of Utah, a Master’s in earth science from Montana State, and a Doctorate in leadership and organizational development from Grand Canyon University.

Prior to Utah State University he was a Dean and Vice President for Colorado Mountain College in the Rocky Mountains. He has also been a college president of a successful healthcare college with two campuses and a strong online presence with national enrollment. He has nearly three decades of executive level leadership in academic settings in multiple intermountain states. His professional work has taken him around the globe working with the world’s most isolated and underserved communities and people. Within the United States, he has extensive field and backcountry research experience in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Rocky Mountains.

His servant and collaborative leadership style comes from his academic background and his experience as an international alpine climbing guide. He has been a member of specialized and nationally recognized search and rescue teams. In his spare time, he has run nearly a hundred marathons and many ultra-marathons and loves spending time with his family.

Dr. Michelle K. Schutt
In her current role as Vice President of Community and Learner Services at the HSI designated College of Southern Idaho, Dr. Schutt brings a unique combination of experience, skills, and recognition about students, their lived experiences, and what matters most for their academic success. She has a proven track record for orchestrating student success initiatives in collaboration with diverse faculty and staff college-wide.

Her focus on holistic services and her strong social justice conscience has led to several transformative and highly impactful college-wide initiatives. Standard services such as student orientation, advising, and the campus food bank, have all been redesigned to better benefit underserved students in cooperation with faculty and staff. In recognition of her passion to address societal inequities, she has been appointed to lead the first faculty and staff Equity and Inclusion committee. With a deep sensitivity to equity, her accomplishments include securing bilingual staff in all student affairs areas, employment of a full-time multicultural coordinator, full-time veterans’ coordinator, and establishment of a Gay-Straight Student Alliance. She also leads a cross-campus group to provide a college pipeline for young adults aging out of foster care.

As an educator first and foremost, Dr. Schutt recognizes the power of teaching and learning and believes that what goes on in the classroom personifies the heart and soul of the collegiate enterprise. She seeks opportunities to interact with faculty and regularly teaches courses in English and social justice as well as serving on the college’s Instructional Council and Curriculum Committee. Moreover, she is an active contributor to the field through her presentations at national conferences and mentorship of Ph.D. student practicums.

As an administrative leader, Dr. Schutt’s experience with a variety of funding sources and budgeting models enables her to maximize resources to best serve students. She currently administers a budget of $9 million and has overseen the additional distribution of $7 million to students through CARES/HEERF funding. As part of her commitment to community service, her lobbying on behalf of a local school district resulted in the passage of a supplemental $800,000 levy. She recently wrote a successful $240,000 grant proposal to the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, and a federal Charter School Program grant for $405,000, which funded the opening of a charter school in fall 2021.

Dr. Schutt’s credentials strengthen her as an educator and administrator to a diverse campus community. She leads students and staff toward the future using modern ideas and solutions. Dr. Schutt holds a B.A. from Upper Iowa University in English Education, a Master Teacher M.S. from Emporia State University, an M.S. in Social Responsibility from St. Cloud State University, and a Ph.D. in Education and Human Resources from Colorado State University. Dr. Schutt is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2021-2022 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selective leadership program preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.

For more information about the presidential search, please contact the College at 307.532.8303.