While attending Panhandle State University near Guymon, Okla., in the mid-1960s, Dodge City Community College’s new interim president, Don Woodburn, traveled to Dodge City every few weeks to purchase cattle for his father.
“When I came to Dodge, I felt very comfortable,” he said Wednesday. “And see, I grew up in a feedlot. My dad was a cattle feeder.”
And he just feels good about Dodge.
But Woodburn’s wife is still in Coffeyville, where he was president of Coffeyville Community College for six years.
“We struggled a little bit finding housing,” Woodburn said.
So he’s here on an interim basis with a six-month contract.
“I’m here for six months to find a house or to find a place to build a house,” he said.
One reason he accepted the job is he thinks the faculty, staff and trustees are good people who know what they’re doing.
“You have a fine community college,” he said. “And I’ll do what I can to make it better.”
Happy to be here
Woodburn said he’s very happy to be at DCCC and thinks it’s a good fit for him.
“I know the things that I am good at are things that we need to do here,” he said.
DCCC needs to strengthen its foundation, turn its sports teams into winning programs, expand and improve recruitment, develop the agriculture department and make sincere efforts at working with Dodge City’s Hispanic population, Woodburn said.
“We really need to work with the Hispanic community here,” he said. “They are a tremendous resource for this community, and this college really needs to work at that.”
Woodburn said Hispanics are critical to Dodge City’s prosperity.
“What we really need to develop here at this college — and we will be doing it — is a Hispanic leadership program,” he said. “We just need to move in that direction.”
At Coffeyville Community College, Woodburn said his team developed a successful Native American leadership program.
He said CCC boosted scholarships and instituted leadership, acclimation and honors courses for Native Americans.
“Of the Native Americans traditionally, Native Americans had only about a 30 percent retention rate, 35 percent,” Woodburn said. “We had as high as 85 percent retention. We had as high as 70 percent graduation rate.”
He said it was done through intense efforts.
“We need a Hispanic leadership program here with an intense effort to serve those students,” he said.
Part of that aim includes recruitment.
“I see opportunities here for us to expand and improve certain areas, certain activities and recruit additional students,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Those opportunities include starting a Hispanic leadership program, improving athletics and developing the agriculture and fine arts departments.
“Right now we don’t have a theater program, and I see that as a real potential that we need to get started again,” Woodburn said. “Those fine arts programs are very important to your college and we need to pursue that.”
The bottom line is, Woodburn wants to help make DCCC as good as it can be, he said.
“I’m very happy to be here, and I’m really looking forward to helping this college — maybe using some of the skills I’ve acquired over the years — to make this an even better college than it is,” he said. “Because it’s really a nice college.”