After 42 years of service to Cottey College, Neal Swarnes, director of the physical plant, will retire his position effective June 30, 2019. Swarnes joined Cottey in 1977 as a carpenter, holding positions of plant foreman and assistant physical plant superintendent before becoming director of the physical plant in 1985. During that same year, he received the State of Missouri energy award and the National Department of Energy Award for Energy Innovation and has been dedicated to energy conservation throughout his career. Neal is quoted as saying, “I came to campus when we were heating with three old converted coal-burning boilers and now we are getting electrical power from solar and running the systems with pocket computers and the systems are programed by in-house staff.”

In fact, under Swarnes’ leadership, the College has added square footage and reduced its energy use. The Judy and Glenn Rogers Fine Arts Building construction and the Neale Hall renovation project added just over 35,000 square feet of space to be heated and air-conditioned. With the use of high efficiency products and equipment and solar photovoltaics producing some of the electrical power, Cottey now uses less electrical power on the north side of campus than before the new construction. Last year, Cottey renovated P.E.O. Hall parlor and added air conditioning in that space. Still, Cottey uses less electrical energy supplied by the utility company.

“Cottey has been so fortunate to have had Neal as a part of our team for 42 years,” said Dr. Jann Weitzel, president of Cottey College. “We wish him the best in retirement and know that he will enjoy time with family and friends.”

Swarnes earned his Associate of Applied Science degree from Fort Scott Community College and his Bachelor of Science degree in Management Technology from Missouri Southern State University.

Swarnes served the Nevada community as a member of the Nevada Board of Variance for six years (serving as chair for four years); the Nevada Planning Commission also for six years (two years as chair); and the Nevada City Library Board for four years (one year as chair.) The Association of Physical Plant Administrators presented Swarnes with the Leadership in Educational Facilities (APPA) Pacesetter Award; the APPA Certificate of Appreciation; the CAPPA (Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators) Meritorious Service award; the CAPPA Distinguished Member Award; and the CAPPA Certificate of Appreciation. He has also served as an officer of CAPPA and member of various state, regional, and national plant administrator committees.

When asked for a statement of his time at Cottey, Neal stated that he has seen, “so many changes. I am one lucky man to have had the privilege to be associated with Cottey College.”