Downey Discusses Role as Administrative Assistant to President Utterback
: Mechell Downey (far right) stands with her husband Mike (far left), daughter Jessica (inside left) and son Stephen (inside right).
She may work behind the scenes, but she plays an essential role at Seminole State College.
For the past 15 years, she has served as administrative assistant to Dr. James Utterback, President of Seminole State College.
Downey worked at First United Bank in Seminole for seven years as a loan assistant before joining the SSC team.
“I enjoy my position at Seminole State College because of the variety of duties I have. There’s never a dull moment,” she said.
Elaborating on her responsibilities, she explained, “I serve as the secretary for the SSC Board of Regents – coordinating meetings, handling their correspondence and scheduling their professional development training. If they need anything, I am there to help them.”
Downey is active in the national Association of Community College Trustees. She is currently president of the ACCT Professional Board Staff Network, a group closely associated with the Trustees organization. She will host her group this this Fall when they meet in San Diego, California in conjunction with ACCT.
“Seminole State has the best Board of Regents. They are very supportive of the College and the things we do here.” she said, in comparing them to other Trustees across the nation.
Downey was reared on a small acreage in Saint Louis, attending school there through the eighth grade. She went to high school in Maud where she graduated because her hometown school was only grades K-8.
After graduating in 1984, she attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater for two years before returning home and taking classes at SSC where she earned her Associate Degree.
Recently, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Technology from Rogers State University in Claremore.
Downey said what’s most challenging about her job is “juggling tasks that need to be done.”
She added, “Handling upset parents can be a touchy thing because of Federal laws. Often, by the time they call the President’s office they are thoroughly upset. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them. I am glad to be that person.”
Downey said what she enjoys most about her job “are the people across campus.”
“Seminole State College has such a family-oriented atmosphere. I also enjoy working with students by helping them achieve their educational goals. My job is very rewarding and I thank Dr. Utterback for the opportunity to be employed by SSC,” she continued.
She works closely with Cindy Guinn, Administrative Assistant to Lana Reynolds, Executive Vice President of Institutional Advancement at SSC.
Because of their positions, Downey and Guinn are also involved with the Presidential Leadership Class at the College. She coordinates the scholarship program and often serves as a sponsor for their educational off-campus trips.
She acknowledges she works behind the scenes a lot, and that is fine with her. So many people have no idea what all she really does, but she likes it that way.
Downey and her husband Mike have been married for 29 years. They reside on 20 acres near Bowlegs in Seminole County.
He owns Central Sheet Metal in Seminole and their 26-year-old son Stephen works with his dad.
Their daughter Jessica, 24, is a second lieutenant in the Air Force stationed at Tinker Air Force Base. She graduated one year ago from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
They also have a granddaughter Nora, who is 18 months old. Downey said, “She is so much fun. I enjoy every minute I have with her.”
In her spare time, Downey said, “I enjoy running, biking, swimming, spending time with my family and riding horses.”
June 30, 2015
Shatswell Awarded Seminole Medical Center Scholarship
(front l-r) Veva Simmons, volunteer; Pat Atyia, volunteer; Jan Lewis, volunteer; Kathryn Shatswell, SSC MLT student; (back l-r) Ray North, lab manager; and Benjamin Heath, Seminole Medical Center CFO and Interim CEO
Seminole State College Medical Laboratory Technology student Kathryn Shatswell of Wetumka was recently awarded a scholarship from Seminole Medical Center Volunteer Services. Shatswell is completing requirements for an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Medical Laboratory Technology.
Shatswell is currently participating in a clinical internship at the Seminole Medical Center laboratory under the supervision of lab manager, and SSC MLT Program graduate, Ray North. The scholarship is presented through the generosity of the volunteers at Seminole Medical Center.
For more information about the Medical Laboratory Technology Program at Seminole State College, contact Malinda Browning, MLT Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 382-9286.
June 25, 2015
College Hires SHS Ag Instructor
Former Seminole High School agriculture education teacher Dara Campbell has been hired by Seminole State College as a student recruiter and assistant professor. In addition to working in the College’s admissions office, she will be teaching several ag education offerings this Fall and work on developing a proposal for an ag degree program.
SSC President Dr. Jim Utterback said the College has been exploring starting ag education for almost a decade. “As we have looked for ways to grow the college and increase enrollment, starting an agriculture program has consistently been suggested. We have had numerous strategic planning sessions over the years where this has been discussed and ultimately recommended. We have realized what a great addition it would be to our curriculum, but we have not had access to personnel to develop and run the program,” Utterback said.
He continued, “Ms. Campbell’s availability became a great opportunity for us to fill our vacant recruiter positon and explore starting an ag program. We are excited about the experience with ag education and the national FFA organization that she will bring to the College, as well as her enthusiastic support of higher education.”
Campbell was hired at Seminole High School in July, 2013 to develop an ag program. Over the past two years, over 60 students became involved in the program – taking classes and competing in ag education, leadership, public speaking, livestock showing and animal care.
Campbell said she is excited about the chance to work at Seminole State College and to develop a program on the collegiate level. “I love the students I had at Seminole High School and want them to have the best opportunities available through their program. I wish the best for the person hired to work with them. I will offer my help, in any way that I can, to make that person successful.
“I have often heard my students at Seminole say that they wished they could continue with ag ed at SSC. I love this community and have family ties to Seminole for several generations. I am thankful to be able to stay and help develop this exciting program at the College,” she said.
Campbell said several area schools have very active ag programs and FFA chapters, with Strother, Konawa and Tecumseh having some of the largest.
Campbell received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education, with a Minor in Animal Science from North Carolina State University and a Master of Science from North Carolina A&T State University in Agriculture Education. She is pursuing a second Master’s degree and plans to continue her education to receive a doctorate.
After doing her student teaching at North Davidson High School in Lexington, North Carolina, she was hired by the school as their agriculture education teacher. She worked for that system from 2004 to 2011. Just prior to “coming home” to Seminole, she taught Biotechnology at Knox Middle School in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Campbell received certification from the National Archery in the Schools Program as an archery instructor and is an Oklahoma-certified Hunter Education instructor. This past Spring, she served as a test item bank writer for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. In June, 2015 she participated in the DuPont National Agriscience Ambassador Program – being one of only nine Oklahoma teachers ever selected to participate in the program.
Campbell is a member of the Oklahoma Education Association and the Oklahoma Agriculture Teachers Association. She received an honorary FFA degree from the North Carolina FFA Association in 2011.
She and her husband make their home in Seminole.
June 25, 2015
Thanks for Your Service
Incoming Chair of the Seminole State College Educational Foundation Jeramy Rich (left) presents outgoing Chair Ray McQuiston (right) with a plaque of appreciation for his service during the June 24 meeting of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. McQuiston was recently appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin to serve as a Regent for Seminole State College, and will begin his seven-year term in July.
June 24, 2015
SSC Regents Convene for June Meeting
Seminole State College President Dr. Jim Utterback (left) presents Chair Marilyn Bradford (right) with a plaque at her final meeting as a member of the SSC Board of Regents.
The Seminole State College Board of Regents convened Tuesday afternoon for their monthly meeting. At their June meeting, the Board approved a recent internal audit as well as changes to a policy concerning employment grievances. Also approved were increases in tuition and fees for the fall term along with the College’s Educational and General Fund Budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
During the President’s Report, Dr. Jim Utterback updated the Board on current campus activities. He presented information about summer federal Upward Bound program activities for high school students and about a variety of classes being conducted as part of a summer “Kids Camp” program on campus.
In updating the Board about personnel matters, President Utterback said that Lynette Gomez has been hired as a Mathematics Instructor and Dara Campbell has been hired as an Assistant Professor/Recruiter. He also announced that Associate Professor of Sociology Tracy Jacomo will retire in September.
As the first item of business, the Board approved the recent FY 2014 Audit Report conducted by BKD CPA’s and Advisors. The internal audit covered the campus bookstore, athletics and miscellaneous claims.
Under the next item of business, Board members approved an increase of 4.92% in tuition and fees for the upcoming fall term. Resident tuition and fees increased from $121.00 per credit hour to $126.95 per credit hour. Non-resident tuition and fees increased from $285.00 to $298.95 per credit hour.
The Board then reviewed and approved the College’s Educational and General Budget for FY 2016. The President told the Board that higher education has taken major cuts in state funding and mandatory costs have continued to increase. He said that some very difficult decisions were made in order to balance the institution’s budget and he applauded Vice President for Fiscal Affairs Katherine Benton and her staff on their diligent efforts in constructing the budget.
Projected Tuition and Fees Chart for Rural Two-Year Institutions for FY 2016.
As the last item of business, Board members approved a change in Board Policy II-4-11 regarding employment grievances. The slight change in policy was made to conform to the recommendations made from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On the Consent Agenda, several contractual agreements were approved including agreements for services, leases and maintenance. Also approved on the consent agenda were two program modifications, the 2015-2016 events and holiday schedule and the FY 2016 Campus Master Plan Projects.
A special presentation was made to SSC Board Chair Marilyn Bradford, whose seven-year term expires June 30, 2013. Dr. Utterback expressed his appreciation for her leadership and service, and said that he hoped Bradford took pride in the many accomplishments and growth of Seminole State College during her tenure.
In addition to Bradford, Board members present at the meeting included: Karen James, Bryan Cain, Marci Donaho and Curtis Morgan.
The next SSC Board of Regents meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 16.
June 23, 2015
Family and friends gathered together Monday afternoon to celebrate the retirement of two long-time Seminole State College employees, Campus Police Coordinator Dan Factor and Director of Sponsored Programs Kathy Hoover. Factor began his career at the College in 1994 and Hoover has served SSC for 31 years.
June 18, 2015
Kids Camp Fun
Photo 0065: Faith Anson (left) of Bowlegs and Victoria Clantos (right) of Okemah paint their ceramic projects during Clay Camp, one of several summer camps offered for kids this summer at Seminole State College.
Photo 0084: Beckham Schell (left) of Seminole and Carson Atwood (right) of Seminole attend Lego Camp this summer at Seminole State College where they work on constructing Lego helicopters.
June 10, 2015
MLT Students Visit State Leaders
Seminole State College Medical Laboratory Technology students recently traveled to the Oklahoma State Capitol to meet with state representatives in observance and appreciation of the MLT Program. Back row (left to right): Micah Dearen of Seminole; Amy Hickerson of Holdenville; Lake Hall of Shawnee; Sandra Childress of Okemah; Meggin Pangle of Okemah. Second row (left to right): Perthena Latchaw of Shawnee; Melina Baldwin of Shawnee; Blakeley Franz of Ada; Jared Harrison of Davenport; Ruth Thomas of Ada. Front row (left to right): Brianna Hilton of Shawnee; Kassidy Sparks of Shawnee; Kathryn Shatswell of Wetumka; Senator Jason Smalley (R); Governor Mary Fallon; Laci Reichert of Wewoka; Sierra O’Dell of Seminole; Nicole Ferrell of Prague; SSC MLT Director Malinda Browning.
June 10, 2015
Guinn Explains Role as Administrative Assistant at SSC
Seminole State College Administrative Assistant Cindy Guinn (left) with Lana Reynolds, Executive Vice President of Institutional Advancement.
She says it’s hard to put into words what all she does, because “there is something new every day.”
Cindy Guinn is the Administrative Assistant to Lana Reynolds, Executive Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Seminole State College. This November will mark 15 years since she took her position at the College.
“I assist Lana and the president (Dr. James Utterback). I am also the secretary for the College’s Educational Foundation. I help plan all the annual events, the golf tournament, the Spring Recognition Banquet and the Holiday fundraiser. I help with all of those and anything else that Lana needs,” Guinn said, in describing some of her duties.
“I like what I do because I never get bored,” she explained.
Guinn noted that the Educational Foundation holds quarterly breakfasts, so she prepares all of the packets for the Trustees and organizes things needed for the meetings.
Guinn came to SSC after spending five years at Oklahoma Baptist University where she served as secretary to Dean Dr. Debbie Blue. Previous to OBU, she spent eight years working as a secretary in the Maud School District, the town where she grew up.
She explained that her job can be challenging but “that is one of the things I like about it the most. You never know what might happen. We’re working on the fly and that makes it fun.”
“Lana is involved in everything. She is so civic-minded,” Guinn added.
Guinn is a member of the Classified Association at SSC, having served as president of the group. “Our organization did disaster relief in May of 2013 for the Bethel area tornado. We try to do things for students and the surrounding community. We raise money for scholarships each year and we adopt 30 or 40 angels at Christmas annually in Seminole and in Shawnee,” she said.
She said what she enjoys most at the College, “are the people. The campus is so family- oriented.”
“Most of the time when we send something through the mail, we sign it from ‘your friends at Seminole State College,’” Guinn said.
Guinn and Mechell Downey, who is Administrative Assistant to the President, are both closely involved with the SSC Presidential Leadership Program at the College. “All these students are on scholarships and we have about 20 each from the freshman and sophomore classes,” she explained.
Guinn acknowledges since she was hired 15 years ago, “I’ve had opportunities to go other places. But I’ve turned them down because of the environment here.”
“It’s nice to wake up and want to come to work every morning. I have the best bosses ever,” she said, referring to Lana Reynolds and Dr. Utterback.
“I like telling people that I work here,” she continued.
Guinn works a lot behind the scenes and she likes it that way. “Our job is to make Lana and Dr. Utterback look good and bring the best light to the College,” Guinn stressed.
Guinn explained other reasons she enjoys SSC. “We as a Classified Staff Association have a voice here. Other places I’ve been, we are just secretaries. Here, we’re part of the family,” she said.
Guinn and her husband of nearly 37 years, B.J. Guinn, both grew up in Maud. Her husband recently retired from Central Plastics, having worked at Barton Valve in Shawnee before moving to Central.
Guinn and her husband reside in Shawnee. Both graduated from Maud High School as did their two kids. Their daughter Jessica Pospisil and her husband Jeremiah have two sons, Jett and Phoenix. Jessica works in the Admissions Office at SSC.
Their son Jarrett Guinn and his wife Ashley have three children, Drew, Asher and Emmy. Jarrett is a veteran and Army Recruiter based at Tinker Air Force Base.
In her spare time Guinn and her family enjoy going to Lake Eufaula. She also likes spending time with her five grandchildren and enjoys working in her flower garden.
June 4, 2015
Long Participates in N.E.W. Leadership Conference
Seminole State College student Alexis Long meets with the University of Oklahoma Head Women’s Basketball Coach Sherri Coale, the keynote speaker at the 2015 N.E.W. Leadership Institute in Norman.
Seminole State College sophomore Alexis Long of Seminole recently attended the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute in Norman.
The mission of the Women’s Leadership Program is to educate, inspire and empower women to become political leaders. To accomplish this mission, a series of educational initiatives are designed and offered specifically for women in Oklahoma. This includes the signature program, N.E.W. Leadership.
N.E.W. Leadership is a five-day institute that takes place each year on the University of Oklahoma campus and is designed specifically for undergraduate women from colleges and universities across the state of Oklahoma.
At the institute, Long – a nursing major– had the opportunity to network with top political, business and non-profit leaders. Throughout the week the participants engaged in panel discussions, action projects and examined current issues that affect women in the state of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has long ranked 49th in the nation in the number of women serving in the state Legislature and has been historically under-represented in all levels of public service and elective office in the state. N.E.W. Leadership attempts to change this by educating, encouraging and inspiring young women to consider careers in public service.
To date, the N.E.W. Leadership Institute has graduated over 460 young women leaders. Long is now among institute alumnae. Graduates of the N.E.W. Leadership Institute gain a powerful new network by spending time one-on-one with Oklahoma’s top women leaders in both the public and private sectors.
Visit the Women’s Leadership Initiative website for more information at www.ou.edu/wli or contact Lauren Schueler at 405-325-6372 (email@example.com
May 29, 2015
SSC Baseball Camps Set for Summer
Area youth interested in learning proper techniques and fundamentals of baseball are invited to sign up for Seminole State College Youth Baseball Camps scheduled in July. Also offered this summer are Prospect Camps for 2015-2019 high school graduates.
Fundamental Camp will be held on July 21. Prospect Camp, a one-day camp, will be held on J July 20.
SSC baseball camps will be held at Oiler Park and the Lloyd Simmons Baseball Facility in Seminole. Campers will get an inside look at the Seminole State College Trojan baseball program. Along with instruction from Trojan players and coaches, the camps also include a tour of the SSC baseball facilities.
Fundamental Camp held on July 21 will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and will be open to all ages. Cost for this one-day camp is $45. Registration will begin 30 minutes prior to each camp start time.
Goals for the camps are to teach each camper the basic fundamentals of baseball in a fun and energetic atmosphere. Emphasis will be on individual position play, hitting/pitching fundamentals and game play experience.
Prospect Camp registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the work-out will start at 10 a.m. Cost per player is $50. Players in groups of 8 or more will be charged $40 per person. Players must have proof of insurance and bring their own gear, bats, glove, cleats and turfs.
Players attending prospect camp will participate in a pro-style work-out including stretching, 60-yard dash, position throws, batting practice and bull pens.
To sign up for the camp, or for more information, contact SSC Assistant Coach James Martin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 405-382-9224.