WNC News: Familiar face fills new role as a vice president
Western Nevada College’s new vice president of finance and administrative services isn’t all that new. Chet Burton succeeds Dan Neverett, who retired this summer, in a job that oversees a wide variety of administrative services. But he previously worked at WNC as the controller and fiscal director from 2009-11.
“It’s great to reconnect with the WNC family and be back as part of the team,” Burton said. “There’s a great group of people who work here, and it feels good to come back.”
Burton’s diverse background includes 20 years as a supply officer in the Navy, including stints at the Pentagon and as a legislative liaison at Capitol Hill. He then launched a career in the corporate sector, working for nine years in a variety of roles including controller and finance director at International Game Technology (IGT), a global reaching gaming machine manufacturer that headquartered in Reno.
Following his initial time at WNC, he was the chief financial officer for a small consulting business in Arlington, Va., and most recently was the director of finance for Unwired Planet, a tech company that recently relocated from Silicon Valley to Reno.
“I bring a little different viewpoint,” Burton said. “I have higher education experience and have worked in corporate and private industry.”
Burton and Neverett worked closely together from 2009-11, so he learned from his predecessor and has perspective about many of his responsibilities.
“There are a lot of challenges, and obviously, following Dan Neverett, there are some large shoes to fill. He’s done a great job,” Burton said.
“My strength lies on the budget and accounting-finance side, but with the understanding that it’s a much bigger department now with marketing, facilities, IT and some of the ancillary support roles,” he said.
Burton and other leaders at WNC will begin with less state funding and the responsibility of providing the state with ready workers for an evolving economy.
“I look at it as the glass is half full, that the worst is behind us. Obviously, with the new funding formula and some of the other things that are out there, those are the things that will continue to be challenges and we will have to address them,” he said. “From an economic standpoint, I believe the state has turned the corner and we can be a catalyst to support the economic growth for the next wave.
“I’m really appreciative for the opportunity to take a significant role at the college, and look forward to rolling up the sleeves and supporting the institution any way I can.”
Burton and his wife, Amy, have two grown children. When he’s not crunching numbers, Burton can be found outdoors skiing, hiking, biking and boating.
NEW ACADEMICS VP IS SET FOR CHALLENGES
After serving as a dean at two colleges in the Southeast, Dr. Robert Wynegar didn’t hesitate to move nearly 3,000 miles away and take on a new professional role at Western Nevada College.
Wynegar, former associate dean of arts at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla., is WNC’s new vice president of academic and student affairs. He replaces Connie Capurro, who retired this summer after dedicating 25 years to WNC as an academic counselor and administrator.
“The opportunity to become a vice president and have a more significant voice at the college was appealing to me,” Wynegar said. “I saw WNC as a college with a solid academic base and a core of talented and caring faculty and staff. My goal now is to provide the type of leadership that will help WNC grow as a provider of quality higher education and as a partner to our regional employers.
Wynegar moved from a region where water is abundant — the Gulf of Mexico — to become a desert dweller in Carson City.
He also brings two key areas of expertise to WNC: grant writing and distance learning. He has produced more than $13 million of external funding in his higher education career, including a $4.35 million grant for Hispanic Serving Institutions, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and course development. That grant helped his college upgrade labs, redesign courses, develop online courses and provide student support services.
“Generating additional resources is a significant need for (WNC) at this point, given the state’s funding issues,” he said. “If we can supplement the decreased state funding with external funding, that’s a good thing for us.”
Wynegar also believes he can help enhance distance education at WNC, which serves many of the college’s 5,000 students who reside over 18,000 square miles of Northern Nevada.
“I learned a lot about distance education as a dean” at Darton State College in Georgia, Wynegar said. “As a result, I was able to bring a great deal of information to HCC and help them build their distance education program.”
Long before Wynegar joined college administration, he was assisting students in the classroom. In 1988, he taught mathematics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before becoming the director of developmental mathematics from 1996 to 2000.
“That’s where I saw the need,” he said. “I wanted to help the students who wanted to be successful but didn’t get the training they needed in high school.”
The university also introduced Wynegar to grant writing.
“The bulk of my focus at UTC was helping the local K-12 schools develop their programs so, hopefully, one day the developmental program wouldn’t be needed,” he said.
Wynegar received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Tennessee Technological University in 1986 and his Master of Science Degree in mathematics there in 1987. He also earned a Master of Science Degree in industrial engineering from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1992 and a Doctor of Education Degree in curriculum and instruction from Valdosta State University in 2010.
Outside of the office, he prefers to spend his free time outdoors.
“Backpacking. That was one of things that drew me to the area,” he said. Wynegar has hiked the southern half of the Appalachian Trail. He also enjoys kayaking, scuba diving and power kiting.
As he familiarizes himself with his new surroundings, Wynegar said he looks forward to gaining perspective from the community of people that make up WNC.
“I’m looking forward to working with the faculty and staff to enhance the college. I look forward to learning about their goals, desires and hopes, and seeing how we can make those mesh with where the college needs to be.”