TO: All VCCS Employees
FROM: Glenn DuBois
DATE: August 23, 2011
RE: VCCS reengineering latest

Dear colleague:

Welcome back from your summer and please accept my best wishes for a wonderful and successful academic year! Together, we are going to serve more than 400,000 people across Virginia. That is a staggering statistic and your work helps make that possible.

The Nation is Watching

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education explored a big part of our reengineering work: the redesign of developmental education.  You can find a link to the story on the Resources page on the rethink website.

As you know, there is a lot riding on our work to make developmental education more effective. This work will impact everyone from the growing population of first-time college students who are looking to us to be the on-ramp for opportunity to the larger public policy goal of increasing Virginia’s and America’s college graduation numbers.

One of the things that really sticks with me from the article is the way our work is being talked about by folks outside Virginia:

“There is growing recognition that the traditional semester-long course sequence used by many community colleges doesn’t work, says Michael Lawrence Collins, associate vice president for postsecondary state policy at Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based nonprofit that studies education and work-force issues. It’s inefficient to have students take up to a year and a half in remediation when many need just pieces of what they’re being taught.

“Because of its newness, there isn’t much research on the effectiveness of the modular approach being tried in Virginia, Mr. Collins says. ”But it is certainly promising, because it attacks the question of time.”…

“There is one certainty. The Virginia Community College system is not the only one anticipating the outcome. Equally curious are researchers and other colleges searching for successful ideas. “There is a risk,” Mr. Collins says, “but there is also power in being that bold.””

Planning Retreat

Developmental education was only one of the topics discussed at the Annual Planning Retreat held earlier this month with leadership teams from each of our 23 community colleges.

This year, we wanted to go the extra mile and bring the discussions that occur at the retreat through a number of multimedia tools right to you. We did that on the rethink website and you can learn more by visiting Planning Retreat 2011 section. You will find there articles written about practically all of the sessions, podcast audio from our plenary session speakers and many of the presentations that were used to foster discussion in the breakout sessions.

I would particularly invite you to listen to two outstanding speeches. Or, you can check out the report on those sessions, found adjacent to the audio.

The first is from Tony Carnevale, the director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, who does an incredible job talking about the intersection of education and employability in the 21st century.

The second is from Hilary Pennington, the director of education, postsecondary success and special initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who talks about the need to accelerate degree completion and the way our reengineering work fits into that.

I am grateful to them and to all the retreat participants who made this year’s gathering so successful.

A sampling of updates

There are more than two dozen reengineering task force work groups now at work. You can track the progress of every single one of them through the dashboard at

Here are updates on just a few of the issues I am often asked about during my campus visits. (The numbers contained in the parentheses correspond to the workgroup numbers on the dashboard.)

(25.) Expand the Teaching Faculty Employment Spectrum
Click here to keep up with the latest work being done on this topic.

The Faculty Employment Spectrum workgroup has had several discussions in the past month. The major accomplishments have been:

  1. Human Resources will be gathering data related to full-time and adjunct faculty workload within the VCCS and will have a report to share with the workgroup at their September meeting.
  2. Financial information is being gathered to show the impact of these new positions on both the VCCS’ overall budget as well as an example of how they could impact individual college budgets.
  3. Several members of the workgroup have volunteered to work in a smaller subgroup to develop initial proposals for the contracted adjunct, part-time faculty, and 10/11 month faculty positions.

The full workgroup is scheduled to meet again, face-to-face, on September 9, 2011, when the workgroup will review the HR and Financial data that has been gathered and discuss both the lecturer role and any other proposals the subgroups have completed. Once these proposals are finalized by the full workgroup they will be sent to the faculty, deans and vice presidents for input.  A separate break-out discussion on this topic will be held at the Chancellor’s Annual Planning Retreat on August 9-10, 2011.

(17.) Articulate Learning Outcomes for Courses
Click here to keep up with the latest work being done on this topic.

In anticipation of fiscal year 2012 funding support, the goals, activities, outcomes, deliverables, timeline and budget for the Articulate Learning Outcomes project have been revised and are currently under review.

(6.) Pilot Shared Services Distance Learning Systems
Click here to keep up with the latest work being done on this topic.

The Shared Services Distance Learning pilot received the “Go Live” signal on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.  All active partner colleges added their 52 shared courses to production SIS. The student enrollment began immediately and on July 25, 2011 was at 200 (unduplicated headcount) in 25 different courses. The enrollment and selection of courses continue to increase daily.  All reports, queries, and enrollment processes are proceeding as expected.  The partner college liaisons are busy contacting the newly- enrolled students to ensure communication and eliminate any confusion over the delivery of course content.  The outcome measurements for the project continue to be fine-tuned with the assistance of the J. Sargeant Reynolds liaison and the Institutional Research metrics workgroup.

(19.) Reinvesting in Our People (Faculty Evaluation)
Click here to keep up with the latest work being done on this topic.

The Faculty Evaluation workgroup met via conference call on July 7, 2011.  There were fewer participants than in earlier conference calls – most likely due to the call being near the Fourth of July holiday and summer vacations.  Click here to see an agenda of the items discussed.

The meeting was adjourned with agreement to get reports and to review materials from each group concerning the fall rollout at our face-to-face meeting in August.  A separate break-out discussion on this topic will be held at the Chancellor’s Annual Planning Retreat on August 9-10, 2011. Click here to read a story about that break-out session.

Stay engaged

These are, again, just a few of the updates available to you on the dashboard at the rethink website.

Should you have comments or questions that are specific to the efforts of an individual workgroup, I would encourage you to email the leads of those groups. The names and email addresses of the leads are included for your convenience on the individual workgroup pages.

Of course, please feel free to send me any thoughts related to the reengineering process at I look forward to reading those emails personally and passing them along to the taskforce.


Glenn DuBois

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