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Build Our Future: Darrell and Jeff Shumway

07 May 2019

Over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges are governed by more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees in the United States. Out of the 6,500+ trustees, there is only one father and son duo who serve on the same board – Pratt Community College trustees Darrell and Jeff Shumway.

Darrell grew up in Pratt County and became involved with PCC in 1981 as a booster club member. In 1986, he wanted to make a bigger impact. He ran for a position on the Board of Trustees in which he was elected. He remained on the board until 2008, when he took a short hiatus before returning in 2011. During his tenure, he served as chairman of the board twice. In addition to serving on PCC’s Board of Trustees, he also served on the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees (KACCT) executive board for 20 years, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), a national board, for six years, and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) for three years. He served as chairman on the KACCT board twice and once on the ACCT board.
His son, Jeff, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and joined the PCC Board of Trustees to fill in Darrell’s vacant position in 2008. He has remained on the board ever since. He currently serves as the board chairman – a position he has held for the past year and a half.

“When I was asked to run for the board, I really didn’t know how I felt about it at the time,” said Jeff. “I agreed to go ahead and put my name in. I’ve been on the board now for 11 years and am currently the chairman.”

The role of the chairman is to set the agenda and oversee meetings. They also have a direct line of communication with the president and the authority to spend budgeted money in the event of an emergency. They do not vote on any issues unless there is a tie. The job of the board as a whole is to set the budgets, hire the president, and set board policy – all of which both Shumways believe are huge responsibilities.

“The voting public, the citizens, put the college’s trust in our hands,” said Darrell. “Someone has to kind of be the guide, so to speak.”

All decisions, with the exception of an emergency, must be made during the board’s monthly meetings. Darrell describes the organization as a hands-off board, meaning that trustees have no authority to make decisions outside of the meetings and without a consensus of the rest of the board.

“Trustees can meet with the president and make suggestions, but any major decisions have to be a board decision,” said Darrell. “Many people believe they can join the board and make immediate changes. There has to be a consensus of the board before any changes are made – one member can’t make the changes themselves.”

“Not everybody can do this,” Jeff adds. “Some people might want to be too involved with things they shouldn’t, such as personnel or student issues. We let the president tend to all of that. He can report to us if something happens, but it’s not our responsibility to get involved with that part.”

Between all of the meetings, budget hearings, study sessions, and weekend retreats, both Shumways spend a lot of time at and working for PCC for what is considered an unpaid position. Both, however, believe there’s not a price that can be put on the feeling they receive to be involved with the college.

“Serving on the board is more time consuming than people might think,” said Jeff. “However it is fun. It makes me feel like I am doing my part to help the community.”

“Some of the guys I played golf with would ask me why I spent so much time at PCC,” said Darrell. “I always told them maybe I can make a difference in someone’s life. So I said that for years and years. When I got ready to get off the AACC board, I had two minutes to explain how community colleges affected me. I told the story that always said that maybe I could make a difference in someone’s life. I then realized, it made a difference in my life. You got to have a passion to come out here and sit through meetings in a non-paid position.”

Among their favorite projects they have been a part of so far are the track and field project, which has been a topic of discussion for five years now, as well as the Sports Performance and Fitness Center update that took place last year. While being involved in large scale efforts to enhance the college is an exciting part of their position, both agreed the best aspect of serving on the board is sitting on stage at graduation.

“You sit there on the stage and you see those kids walk across with visions of the future. You see those single moms and dads walking across to get their pin for nursing. You know they will become wage earners and support their families,” said Darrell. “It’s a feeling you can’t explain. That’s the reason why I’ve done it for 30 years.”
“That one day is a culmination of everybody’s hard work,” adds Jeff. “It’s why we are there.”

As for serving on the same board, the Shumways treat each other as any other trustee.

“Jeff doesn’t call me dad during the meetings,” said Darrell. “He calls me by my first name or Trustee Shumway.”
“It doesn’t have any advantages or disadvantages,” adds Jeff. “We don’t always share the same opinions. However if he is annoying me at a meeting, I will definitely let him know!”

This year, Pratt Community College is honoring those who choose to help build the futures of our students. Each month during 2019, PCC is proud to feature those alumni, community members, board members and faculty who have done their part to build the future of the lives of students as well as the growth of the institution. If you would like to be considered for one of our monthly features, contact Jessica Ward at 620-450-2192, jessicaw@prattcc.edu.