2021-22 Presidential Search

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Board of Trustees Announces Lisa Watson as President of Northwest College

The NWC Board of Trustees Announces Lisa Watson as next President of Northwest College

Posted March 10, 2022

The Northwest College Board of Trustees is proud to announce Ms. Lisa Watson as the ninth President of Northwest College. Watson had been serving as Interim President since November 19, 2020, and is in her eighth year of service at the College. She previously served as the College’s Vice President of Administrative Services and Finance.

“After a strong recommendation from the Presidential Search Committee, the Board further deliberated and unanimously voted to retain Lisa Watson as President of Northwest College,” said Dr. Mark Wurzel, President of the NWC Board of Trustees.


The Finalists

Note: bios below provided as submitted by the candidates.

Michelle K. Schutt, Ph.D. (Feb. 23-24)

On-campus visit itinerary
Watch the video of Dr. Schutt's Campus Address and Q&A

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.

Lisa M. Watson, MBA (March 2-3)

On-campus visit itinerary
Watch the video of Lisa Watson's Campus Address and Q&A

Lisa Watson was appointed Interim President of Northwest College on November 19, 2020, where she currently serves. She previously held the position of Vice President for Administrative Services and Finance at the College and is in her eighth year of service there.

Lisa has spent close to twelve years in higher education, previously serving as the Interim President and Vice President for Administration at Miles Community College. She has led and supported various initiatives and efforts designed to move these institutions and their students forward for success. Under her leadership, she has led transformational work, developed facility master planning, improved budgeting, and financial operations, and developed a strong understanding of the Wyoming Community College system and legislative process.

Before working in higher education, Lisa held various positions in finance and has extensive experience in private industry. As a CPA, she has worked with various businesses, including family-held ag operators, downtown business owners, and fortune 500 companies with international operations. Regardless of her work, Lisa leads with a servant's heart and works aside those she leads.

She has been involved in numerous activities related to her work and personal life during her career. As a Vice President, she served on the National Association of College and University Business Officers sustainability board for chief business officers. She is a proud member of the Leadership Wyoming's class of 2018 and has served as a tutor at her son's school. Before living in Wyoming, she served as a member of the Miles City Rotary Club, Holy Rosary hospital audit, Holy Rosary endowment, and Leadership Miles City. She was also the Treasurer of the Custer County Republican Women for ten years.

Lisa holds a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in international business from the University of Miami, having graduated Summa Cum Laude honors. She is a certified public accountant, earning her bachelor's in Accounting from the University of Colorado - Boulder. Currently, Lisa is a doctoral student in the higher education administration program at the University of Wyoming. Lisa grew up in Colorado but spent her summers and free time in Riverton, Wyoming, and Wibaux, Montana, where her family hails, and she considered home. She is married to Thomas Watson, a certified public accountant, and has one son in elementary school.


Located 70 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Northwest College is a comprehensive community college with a historical emphasis on diverse transfer programs, select technical programs featuring strong general education components, and total-student development services. General and developmental education are institutional strengths. Top quality education and exceptional student services — Northwest College hallmarks — are delivered by a devoted faculty and support staff. Northwest College is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission.

The Northwest College experience features personal attention from faculty in small class settings and extraordinary learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom — international study/travel; student produced literary art magazine, webcast, numerous internships; and independent study options. Solid residential life, student development programs, a large international student population and intercultural center, competitive intercollegiate athletics with six NJCAA Division I and two NIRA teams, and more than 60 clubs and organizations close the circle for a lively, truly collegiate atmosphere.

Northwest College offers a competitive compensation and benefits package. Wyoming does not have a state income tax.

Northwest College is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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