Central Wyoming College
|Central Wyoming College (CWC)|
|Type||Public Community College|
|Undergraduates||2 year available|
|Location||Riverton, Wyoming, Fremont County, Wyoming, United States|
Central Wyoming College (CWC) is a comprehensive American community college located in Riverton, Wyoming. The college includes off-campus sites in Wyoming at Jackson, Lander, Thermopolis, Dubois and the Wind River Indian Reservation. It also provides internet classes. The institution offers 2-year associates degrees.
The college is best known for an Associate Degree Nursing program. Additionally, the campus houses Wyoming's only public television network, Wyoming PBS, as well as a student-operated FM radio station, KCWC-FM.
CWC was founded in 1966 by a county-wide vote, though community leaders originally conceived the idea of a community college in the county in 1950. The idea of the college took a long time to solidify over a disagreement on its proposed locations, Lander and Riverton. district boundary conflicts further postponed the college planning until 1960. The Wyoming Community College Commission in 1964 informed the planning groups in Fremont County the location dispute must be resolved before the proposed college would receive its serious consideration.
A June 1965 poll showed Fremont County people favored a college by a 5-1 majority and a 3-2 majority favored Riverton as the site. But Lander supporters were persistent and returned once more to the commission, proposing the college be located in the county seat. The college commission heeded the results of the survey, however, and gave its approval to the Riverton proposal.
CWC sits near the confluence of the Big and Little Wind Rivers in Fremont County. CWC was founded in 1966 by a county-wide vote, though community leaders originally conceived the idea of a community college in the county in 1950. Though the main campus was located in Riverton, Lander School District officials immediately made classrooms available for classes and over the years Central Wyoming College became a true community college by extending the campus to Lander, and later to other locations in Fremont County. Eventually the college’s service area grew to also include Hot Springs and Teton counties.
A year after the college was established, the University of Wyoming leased its Sinks Canyon experimental farm to CWC and the college’s Field Station was established. In the beginning, the 210-acre (0.85 km2) farm south of Lander had a few small houses and a barn, but today it has a classroom building, a caretaker’s residence and facilities for picnics and other recreational uses. Over the years, many couples were united in marriage at the beautiful site along the Popo Agie River until recently, when the college agreed it should be used more for educational purposes rather than for large social activities.
Before campus buildings were constructed, the first classes at the college were held in the basement of a downtown bank. Three facilities, a library, science and utility buildings, opened September 23, 1968. The college’s newly formed Foundation also dedicated a portion of the campus property to a Technical Park with a philosophy the community would attract industry to Riverton oriented toward education.
With the first full-time students enrolled, CWC officials appealed to the people of Riverton for suitable housing. A local contractor built a girls dormitory housing 14 students in 1968.
CWC was truly able to recruit from beyond its commuter area when a Residence Hall was constructed in 1976. An apartment complex, later named the East Apartments, was constructed in 1978 and was utilized by students with families as well as single students. In 1979, the West Apartments were built. Also in the ‘70s, the campus grew with the construction of a student activities building in 1972 and a vocational-technical building in 1978. The college’s programs and services expanded with the campus and the community’s needs as well. Programs, such as construction trades, diesel mechanics, drafting and electronics, came about as the community flourished with a minerals industry. With the times, and a change in the college service area’s economy, those programs went away and others, such as nursing, broadcasting, equine studies and computer networking were established. Being a comprehensive community college, CWC was also offering non-credit community services courses and adult basic skills classes as well.
In the early years, CWC had intercollegiate athletics – and even won regional titles in basketball, volleyball and tennis. But budget woes in the early 1990s forced the college to eliminate round ball sports. In the early years, the College team and mascot was known as the Shaman before changing its name to the Rustler. CWC converted the scholarships offered to athletes and beefed up its academic scholarships. Activity awards for visual and performing art students were also added because CWC had established itself as the cultural center of the region with the construction of the Arts Center in 1983.
In the early ‘90s, the college was faced with a huge decline in local tax revenue and a new problematic state funding formula. The institution was forced to take severe cuts in its budget. At the same time, the college was serving a severely economically depressed population, and these dismal factors were reflected in the college’s student body, which was primarily educationally disadvantaged, low-income and older than average. The combination of limited resources, changing technology, traditional curricula, and a diverse, rural and disadvantaged student population with a high attrition rate presented the college's administration enormous challenges.
The college staff became aggressive in pursuing outside resources, and stepped up grant writing activities to help get the college back on track. As a result, CWC has secured millions of dollars in grants to assure the college was responsive to the educational needs of its community. CWC is the only Wyoming community college with a federally supported Student Support Services Program, which supplies tutorial support, counseling and transfer advisement free of charge to students. In 1996, CWC secured a $1.75 million Title III grant, which has had a major positive impact on the college in terms of curriculum development, computer-aided instruction and student retention. In 1997, the college was awarded a $10 million grant to implement distance education technology to improve access to education for rural and isolated schools, and to provide teacher training in the use of high tech multimedia and curriculum development.
In 2006, CWC re-initiated an intercollegiate women’s volleyball program that was followed by a men’s and women’s basketball program in 2008. CWC's Rustler Rodeo team competes in the Central Rocky Mountain Region and consistently places highly at the College National Finals Rodeo. The college's aggressive technology plan not only focuses on technology in education, but also includes agreements with private entities, boosting cooperation and sharing of resources. Through agreements with the software giant Microsoft and networking king Cisco Systems, an innovative degree program in Computer Networking Technologies has been developed.
In 1983, Wyoming’s first public television station, KCWC-TV, went on the air. At the time, the college was awarded the largest single federal grant to operate the PBS station, and with the studios located on the CWC campus, it opened the doors for an instructional laboratory for the college’s broadcasting program. In the late 60's and early 70's before KCWC actually hit the air, the station broadcast on the local cable outlet on channel 4. CWC often videotaped high school basketball and football games in Lander and Riverton for later playback along with selected PBS programming licensed through KUED in Salt Lake City and programing from University of Wyoming. They also aired a large variety of educational films. All the programming at that time was in Black and White with the exception of the PBS video tapes. Intern radio broadcasting training before KCWC FM signed on was done through the two radio stations in Riverton and Lander, KVOW and KOVE.
Two years before the station went on the air and before the term “distance education” was coined, the college developed a plan to deliver telecourses to students in the region. Courses were also created for delivery on the college's student-operated FM radio station, and many on-campus classes were videotaped and delivered to students in the college's outreach centers. In 1982, before the advent of the personal computer, courses were offered that incorporated computers.
CWC continues to offer telecourses, and is also delivering courses on CD-ROM, videotape, online and via a state-of-the-art fully interactive distance technology network. CWC has firmly established itself in Wyoming as a leader in technology and distance learning; very important qualities to offer students who reside in this geographically isolated state.
Recognition and Funding
The college was also awarded federal Gear Up, Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search grants, ensuring pre-college age students in CWC’s service area have more opportunities to enter into higher education.
Today, the college offers a wide variety of programs and services to students, businesses and community members of all ages. The college has credentials and associate degrees in career-technical (applied) programs specifically for students looking to immediately enter the job market and numerous academic transfer programs for students planning to continue on for bachelor and advanced degrees.
Additionally, the college offers a wide assortment of non-credit professional and personal development courses for all ages. The Workforce and Community Education department at CWC provides the training and services businesses in CWC’s service area need, as well as employment training to assist constituents of the of area to become more self-sufficient. The college also provides a variety of community services classes throughout the service area.
CWC formed a Board of Cooperative Higher Educational Services that provides prepared high school students to earn college credit through a dual and concurrent enrollment program. The college has also been awarded millions of dollars in federal grants to assist pre-college age and college students succeed in higher education.
The college has developed a number of new academic programs, including Western American Studies, Outdoor Education, Fire Science, International Studies, Environment, Health and Safety, which capitalize on the college’s historic and geographic location.
In recent years, the college has had rapid enrollment growth. In the past three years, the college has witnessed a 40 percent increase in the number of students.
The college’s main campus is made up of modern buildings and facilities, which include a library and Food Court constructed in 1994 and a new student residence hall completed in 2002 and the Intertribal Education and Community Center, which opened in the fall of 2010. Most of the campus was remodeled during the 1994 construction project and every nook and cranny was wired to establish a robust computer network. The college also owns a Main Street center in Lander where courses taught on campus are delivered to a new electronic classroom there.