Dear Colleagues,

I hope your semester is going well!

I am writing to update you on a few items related to our reengineering efforts focused on enhancing student success.

General Assembly Update

The General Assembly has been, and continues to be, our greatest partner in pursuing our mission – ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened.

Our community colleges have enrolled an additional 48,000 people over the last four years while absorbing $105 million in cuts of our annual operating funds.

While the budget the General Assembly passed does not restore those cuts, it represents a substantial commitment to higher education and community colleges in particular.

The budget includes additional funds to: enhance our noncredit course offerings; improve financial aid and expand the Two-year College Transfer Grant Program; improve our full-time faculty ratio; and operate many of our newest buildings.

As you probably know, the budget includes a five percent pay raise for employees who participate in the VRS plan to offset the five percent those employees will now be made to contribute toward their retirement. Those who participate in the Optional Retirement Plans (ORP) should know that the budget maintains the state’s contributions at 10.4 percent of your salary.

Reengineering Taskforce Update

The Reengineering Taskforce is focused on implementation. While the panel will continue to seek new ideas for doing what our colleges can do better, the focus turns to enacting the ideas contained in the report received last fall by the state board.

You can find a copy of those recommendations at our dedicated website: www.rethink.vccs.edu.

Further, the panel continues to seek ways to maximize your engagement and participation in this process. To that end, you will soon receive another e-mail with further information on the workgroups that are implementing the taskforce recommendations and ways that you can track their work and engage with it.

Faculty Evaluations

One of the outgrowths of the reengineering work has been a desire to put more meaning into the way VCCS faculty members are evaluated. The current evaluation system serves neither our instructors nor our colleges well.

The faculty evaluations workgroup is comprised almost entirely of faculty members. Terry Whisnant, from Southside Virginia Community College and Patrick Tompkins, from John Tyler Community College, are leading the panel.

“The input of the six faculty representatives to the workgroup and the many comments submitted by faculty across the VCCS are helping to shape an evaluation process that reaffirms instructional excellence and respects teaching faculty as professionals,” said Patrick Tompkins, who also chairs the Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Committee.

At this stage, the workgroup is finding perhaps more questions than answers. Its progress is shared through groups like CFAC, ASAC and others.

The thrust of this effort comes down to three broad questions:

  1. Can we make the evaluation process simpler?
  2. Are the expectations appropriate and rigorous enough to truly determine how well a new instructor fits with his or her students, department and college?
  3. Can we change the focus from evaluation to professional development and growth for experienced faculty members?

There remain many details to explore on reforming faculty evaluations. Some of that will occur at this year’s New Horizons Conference, where Terry and Patrick will lead a discussion on this topic.

We can do better with faculty evaluations and bring meaning and value to a process that is lacking those qualities.

I appreciate the time you took to read this message and for the ideas, suggestions and reactions you have offered to enrich our reengineering process. Please remember that you can provide feedback to me on any issues related to reengineering by sending me an e-mail at rethink@vccs.edu.

Thank you further for the passion and hard work you bring to our community colleges and the people we serve everyday.

Sincerely,

Signature

Glenn DuBois
Chancellor

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